Huron-Wendat Ancestors

An exciting development in archaeology is the engagement of descendant communities with the study of their ancestors. Professor Susan Pfeiffer does research that is designed to reconstruct information about past lives. She studies human bones and teeth using methods that inform us about past diets, diseases, and behaviors. Since 2011, when a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between U of T and the Huron-Wendat Nation, she and colleagues have focused on studying Huron-Wendat ancestors. The skeletal remains of over 1700 Huron-Wendat ancestors were reburied in 2013, but tiny bone and tooth samples were retained so that everyone could learn more about the ancestors, as a way to honor them and connect with their world. Pfeiffer involves students in isotopic studies that can answer questions about diet, infant care, and population mobility. There are also studies underway that focus on ancient DNA and on past diseases.


The Great Hall, Hart House, University of Toronto on Friday, September 13, 2013, “Celebrating the Huron-Wendat Nation in Ontario: Exploring New Approaches to Learn about the Past.” (photo courtesy of Archaeological Services Inc.)



Selected Publications:


Pfeiffer, S., Lesage, L. 2014 The Repatriation of Wendat Ancestors / Le rapatriement des ancêtres Wendat, 2013. Canadian Journal of Archaeology 38ᅠ:1-22..


Pfeiffer, S., Williamson, R.F., Sealy, J., Smith, D.G., Snow, M. 2014. Stable isotopes and mtDNA from Woodland period southern Ontario people: results from a tooth sampling protocol. Journal of Archaeological Science 42:334-345.

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