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ISCAWG Members: Scott Martin, Adrianne Xavier, Andy Roddick, Greg Braun, Shalen Prado, Rylan Godbout, Selby Westbrook, Tanya Hill-Montour

Collaborative Archaeologies, Decolonized Foodways Workshop and Dinner

The Indigenous-Settler Collaborative Archaeology Working Group (ISCAWG) comprises a small group of students, professional archaeologists, Six Nations archaeologists and professors in Indigenous Studies, Anthropology and Science. All share an interest in new approaches to Ontario archaeology. Founding members include Dr. Andrew Roddick (Anthropology), Dr. Adrianne Lickers Xavier (Anthropology/Indigenous Studies Department), Dr. Scott Martin (Sustainable Archaeology McMaster) and Tanya Hill-Montour (Six Nations of the Grand River Archaeology Department). The group hosted a workshop and dinner with interested parties at the Gathering Place by the Grand catered by Clint Atkins, acclaimed Six Nations chef.

Dec 12, 2022

The Project

The team’s first project is exploring foodways and new collaborative archaeologies that bridge communities and disciplines. Archaeology has too long been driven by settler interests. Indigenous history without Indigenous voices is not an equitable way to know the past. Simply put: Archaeology needs Indigenous archaeologists. We assembled a broad, interdisciplinary team to explore the foods embedded in Neutral Iroquoian ceramics from the early 1600s, a period of sociopolitical 'turbulence' in southern Ontario. Using a variety of techniques - including starch grain analysis and lipid (fat) analysis - we are teasing out the kinds of meats and plants that may have been stored, cooked, and served in these clay vessels. We hope to understand the changes and maintenance of Indigenous food practices across long periods of time! Our pilot project is finding residues of plants and meat in almost all ceramics, despite being stored for decades.


Some of this analysis is minimally destructive. What do we mean by destructive? This means, for instance, taking a layer of encrusted food from the surface, removing a small area and thin-sectioning an artifact. Some kinds of archaeological questions cannot be answered without destructive techniques. But we can be very precise in this work. For instance, Dr. Chakraborty is developing a technique to limit (to ≤2 grams) the destruction in lipid analysis (see before and after images above), a concern raised by Indigenous colleagues in ISCAWG.

Questions or comments?

This pilot project explores some of these techniques but also the collaborative process. We are excited about the possibility of future work, but not without community feedback. Do you have questions or comments? Would you have additional ideas for what and how we ought to research pottery, food, or any other archaeological materials? Feel free to reach out to: Dr. Andy Roddick (, Dr. Adrianne Xavier (, Dr. Scott Martin ( and Tanya Hill-Montour (

We were very happy with the first gathering and are excited to share more progress with interested communities.