Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Anthropology

Committee Chair

Anna Marie Prentiss

Commitee Members

John Douglas, Dave Dyer


Bridge River Village, dual-processual theory, geographic information systems, household archaeology, housesits, Mid-Fraser Canyon


University of Montana


Households are fundamental units of society that possess powerful explanatory potential; however, few studies have approached household organization during the critical contact period within the Mid-Fraser Canyon. The 2012 excavation of Bridge River’s Housepit 54 (HP 54) offers a rare opportunity to investigate such socioeconomic relationships and their spatial manifestations. Hypotheses structured with a household archaeology theoretical framework emphasize household socioeconomic strategies. The first hypothesis outlines a network strategy characterized by greater centralization of power, hierarchical complexity, and material-wealth that is reflected in residential units with individual features and disparate accumulations of prestige goods and high utility resources. Such floor plans have been ethnographically observed among the Thompson and Lower Lillooet. The second hypothesis proposes a corporate household strategy that lacks the centralization of power seen within the household in the network strategy. Such a strategy could be reflected by two spatial arrangements: 1) a collectivist approach with multiple residential units that lack significant wealth-based differences and 2) a communalist approach with a central hearth and shared activity areas. Housepits divided by activity areas or “rooms” predicted by the communalist approach have been described in ethnographies of the Shuswap and the Upper Lillooet as well archaeological reports of the Keatley Creek site. To identify HP 54’s floor plan, this analysis employs GIS mapping techniques to reveal different distributions and clusters of lithic, historic, and faunal data in relation to features. This thesis will examine the relationship between ethnographic and archaeological records as well as indigenous life during the Fur Trade Era, while also contributing to an enhanced understanding of household relationships.



© Copyright 2013 Alexandra Christine Williams