Dr. Ives' research interests are closely connected with the Institute of Prairie Archaeology, which promotes archaeological, anthropological and interdisciplinary research in the northern Plains region of western Canada and the northern United States. Its work is intended to enhance public, First Nations and rural engagement with the University of Alberta in these research areas, and particularly, to provide leadership in the training of archaeologists through field schools and other professional work, while cultivating a strong intellectual presence in the Plains region of North America.
Current research at the Institute involves several programs. One SSHRC funded program investigates how Navajo and Apache ancestors left Subarctic Canada a little over 1,000 years ago, making their way to the American Southwest and southern Plains. This work focuses on the Promontory Caves of Utah, where extraordinary preservation conditions left a wealth of normally perishable material culture (including hundreds of moccasins), some of it typical of the Canadian North.
Our Apachean Origins work has for more than a decade had close ties with the work of Professor Sally Rice (Linguistics) and her students, involving the Pan-Athapaskan Comparative Lexicon. Dr. Ives looks forward to continued collaborative work as a co-investigator in their recent KIAS Cluster Grant award, Documenting the Dene Diaspora: Towards a Living Digital Archive of Dene Language and Culture.
The Institute works with avocational collections from all time periods, but especially from western Canada’s terminal Pleistocene and early Holocene, 9,000 to 13,000 years ago, and the biological and human implications of the deglaciating corridor that opened between eastern Beringia (Alaska and the Yukon) and interior North America at the end of the Ice Age. We also maintain interests in the prehistory of the Boreal Forest in northern Alberta, particularly with respect to the greater Oil Sands region.
Another program concerns the Besant and Sonota eras on the northern Plains, extending from the Dakotas to Alberta. Between roughly 1,500 and 2,500 the northern Plains inhabitants of western Canada were in contact with Eastern Woodlands populations of the United States, sharing ideas and exotic toolstones.
Finally, the Institute has offered field schools at sites ranging from the 10,000 year old Ahai Mneh site near Lake Wabamun to the tipi rings on the Mattheis Ranch in southern Alberta. The Institute of Prairie Archaeology offers the Department of Anthropology archaeological Field School (ANTHR 396 Archaeological Field Methods) every second year. We work closely with the Rangeland Research Institute, Faculty of Agriculture, Life and Environmental Sciences, providing students the opportunity to learn field survey and excavation methods in undisturbed prairie at the Mattheis Ranch (near Brooks, Alberta) and the Kinsella Ranch (near Viking, Alberta), and to work with Treaty 6 and 7 ceremonialists. In field school work on the Mattheis Ranch during 2016, we will explore the fascinating transition from the Avonlea to Old Women's Phase at the Mattheis Ranch, a time range when the Blackfoot cultural identity becomes clear in the archaeological record.