chapter  Chapter 7
Toward Northern Athapaskan Prehistory
WithJohn W. Ives
Pages 47

Arctic Drainage Athapaskan societies each reached toward distinctive tendencies in local group developmental processes for the solution of problems in socioeconomic reproduction. The historical instances tell about the ability of Athapaskans to wed the developmental processes arising from variations upon the Dravidian theme to the exigencies of strikingly different political and physical environments. Some Northern Athapaskans were boreal forest foragers, some were communal caribou or bison hunters, and some lived in relatively sedentary villages with intensive exploitation and storage of salmon. An explanation for the tremendous diversification of economies is the premier issue before archaeologists interested in Athapaskan prehistory. Drainage Athapaskans moving in the direction of increased communal hunting should begin to generate archaeological assemblages with an increasingly coarse-grained character. The true dynamic of Arctic Drainage Athapaskan range occupancy characteristics went well beyond ecological variability, however. Intriguingly, some suspect that the Gitksan themselves might be “Tsimshianized” Athapaskans, or, at least an admixture of coastal and interior Athapaskan peoples.