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A state of change : an historical archaeology of Doukhobor identity at Kirilovka village site (FcNs-1)



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A migration of over seven thousand Russian immigrants belonging to the Christian sect known as the Doukhobors arrived in western Canada beginning in early 1899. Three colonies of at least 61 villages in total were established in the Districts of Saskatchewan and Assiniboia in the Northwest Territories. Due to internal tensions in the sect and conflicts with the Department of the Interior, most of these villages were abandoned by 1920. Although the Doukhobors in Saskatchewan are an integral part of the province's agricultural and settlement history, no substantial archaeological investigation of village sites took place until the site of Kirilovka (FcNs-I) was excavated in August and September of 1996. Kirilovka village was located along the North Saskatchewan River, west of the community of Langham, and was occupied by 30-35 families at the peak of its population. An archaeological sample representing the locations of four households is investigated in this thesis. Historical characterizations of the Doukhobors in Saskatchewan tend to be uncertain as to whether the Doukhobors were an ethnic group and/or religious sect, and to the degree of internal cohesion and homogeneity at the community level. Combined archaeological and historical investigations here suggest that the Doukhobor identity in Saskatchewan cannot be defined simply in terms of Russian ethnicity, but involves a combination of philosophical, ethnic, economic, and geographical factors. Further, the Doukhobor identity is characterized by the constant change brought about through repeated mass migrations spanning two centuries. One of the material implication of this identity was a tendency to readily adopt certain new technologies and styles into Doukhobor activities. This thesis examines the possible social implication of such material acquisitions. Only further archaeological investigation of Saskatchewan Doukhobor village sites may contribute to or contradict the findings of this research. It is hoped, however, that this thesis provides a necessary contribution to the growing field of Settlement Period Archaeology in western Canada.





Master of Arts (M.A.)


Anthropology and Archaeology


Anthropology and Archaeology


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