“As archeologists, I believe we can unlock the answers to so many mysteries of human culture and people who walked this earth before we did,” says Holly Krause, MA candidate in Public Issues Anthropology.
For her master’s research, she is studying faunal remains – the bones and other remnants of deceased animals – in order to reconstruct historical landscapes and determine patterns of human settlement, hunting strategies, and resource gathering.
“We are literally unearthing a whole history through bones and debris,” says Holly. Her work focuses on the bones of caribou in the northwest corner of Mingo Lake, within the interior of southern Baffin Island. These bones are from the Dorset cultural occupation as well as from the pre-Dorset time. The research will shed light on the movement of past populations of the Far North.
“The Artic is home to many unexamined sites, and now that the permafrost is melting, we can access and dig up more evidence and artifacts to better understand the Paleo Eskimo’s of that region,” says Holly, whose thesis supervisor is Professor Robert W. Park, an archaeological anthropologist and an expert in the cultures of the Far North.
As a relatively undocumented area by archeologists, the study of caribou bones will help determine the tools used by these historic populations. It also helps with determining the timeframe, as the discovery of tools constructed from a caribou’s remains would suggest a different era than tools constructed from materials such as stone.
“I’m driven by the social impact opportunities in studying public issues anthropology,” says Holly. “What is special about this MA program is it enables us to take our findings and information into the public domain and have an impact on policy and public understanding. For example, when I consider our Canadian Indigenous populations, I believe as anthropologists the more we can uncover, to support historical facts and cultural traditions, the more we can support current reconciliation efforts.
“I have a deep respect for archeology and academia, and my desire is to eventually work for Parks Canada so I can maintain that direct connection to the general public and give my research into culture a voice that will reach the public domain.”
Students in the Public Issues Anthropology program are often interested in using the methods and findings of anthropology as a way to explore issues of social justice. The University of Waterloo program is attractive to a range of interests because it integrates the traditional sub-disciplines of anthropology—cultural, biological, archaeological (as well as applied and linguistic)—at an advanced research level.
“Public issues anthropology is unique because it pleases so many aspects of my personality,” Holly says. “I love to bounce from topic-to-topic; and this program allows me to tap into my artistic-side with the hands-on digging, into the mental focus of data entry, and also into my creative story-telling-side. Our goal is to weave our data and findings into the fabric of culture, human movement and history.”