10. Landscapes of Memory and Presence in the Canadian Shield - John Norder
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10 Landscapes of Memory and Presence in the Canadian Shield John Norder In the study of rock art sites in archaeology, a substantial portion of research has emphasized symbolic and iconographic understandings. In other words, research has typically revolved around the following question: What did the images placed at a rock art site mean to the people who created them (e.g., Fig­ ure 10.1)? In pursuing these issues,one aspect of these sites that researchers have come to focus on is that part of their symbolic capital,in addition to the composition(s) present, is the location. Within this more inclusive perspective , the notion of “place”becomes part of how these sites are conceived. Subsequently, rock art sites have increasingly been studied as part of sacred landscapes, where rock art serves to mark locations of religious and cos­ mo­ logi­ cal significance of a given community (Arsenault 2004a, 2004b; Lewis-­ Williams 1977; Whitley 1998, 2000, 2001). In contextualizing rock art sites within a sacred landscape,these places become part of a geography structured by spiritual and cos­ mo­ logi­ cal perceptions of the world that are grounded in a culture’s religious belief and practice .Rock art sites in their image composition represent the unseen universe that is hidden from, but coexistent with, daily experience, and their placement on the landscape represents bridges between these worlds. However, the concept of a sacred landscape is also one that is only part of the equation of what rock art sites have the potential to represent.They are also part of a landscape of memory that embodies a community’s identity and serves to guide human experience and action in manners that bridge these visible and invisible worlds. They also mark the presence of a community on the landscape. In this framework, the memory of a community may fail, and the stories of particular places may be forgotten, but the physical presence of rock art sites may endure for hundreds,if not thousands,of years.Thus these 236 John Norder places serve as discursive points on the landscape where subsequent generations may encounter, rediscover, and redefine them as a means of maintaining or creating presence. This chapter examines these issues of memory in presence not just as part of the sacred landscape but also as part of the broader social landscape,which embodies not just the sacred but also the everyday.Within this frame of reference , rock art is a visible manifestation that is encountered both as a religious object and as a social one, engaged with in ways that serve to guide human social interactions with each other as well as with the spirits that are seen to inhabit these places. Landscape becomes multidimensional, also, existing not as a space defined and redefined by human actions and imagination ,but as one that serves as a source of direction for human actions (Harkin 2000). By focusing on both ar­ chaeo­ logi­ cal and contemporary ethnographic research done in the Lake of the Woods region of northwest­ ern Ontario, Fig­ ure 10.1. Annie Island pictograph. Landscapes of Memory and Presence in the Canadian Shield 237 I will outline how these two concepts of landscape, memory and presence, serve to promote a more holistic understanding of the position of rock art not only at the time of its production and primary use but also in its role among contemporary Ojibwa communities within the region. Rock Art Forms in the Lake of the Woods Region The study area outlined here (Fig­ ure 10.2), located at the intersection between Minnesota and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba, is, in terms of rock art style,considered to be part of the larger Canadian Shield Rock Art Tradition (Dewdney and Kidd 1967), which stretches from Saskatchewan in the west through Quebec, dipping down through Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. In regard to geographic coverage, it forms one of the largest contiguous rock art styles in the world and conforms more or less to the geographic distribution of north­ ern Algonquian Indian cultures, to which this tradition has been attributed (Dewdney and Kidd 1967; Rajnovich 1994). Rock art within the region comes in four types: pictographs, petro­ glyphs, petroforms, and lichenographs. Pictographs, which are the focus of this study, are the most numerous type found in the region. They are produced by an application of red ochre pigments to rock faces. Stylistically they are also Fig­ ure 10.2. General study area along the west­ ern...