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Between 1780 and 1810 the Mississauga, a member of the Algonquin speaking family of native groups in southern Ontario, experienced the disintegration of a 150 year old subsistence economy based on a seasonal round of hunting, gathering, fishing, and participation in the fur trade. Faced with a decreasing demand for furs and the loss of land through a series of surrenders to the Crown, the Mississauga were excluded from participation in the new agricultural economy, and within a period of two decades they became a marginalized people within Upper Canadian society. Excavations at the Beasley site, in Hamilton, Ontario provide an opportunity to examine the Mississauga during this turbulent period in their history. Analysis of artifact assemblages from selected stratigraphic contexts at the site provides unique insight in adaptations occurring at this time. An analysis of glass trade beads, miscallaneous trade goods, native-made lithics, ceramics and faunal remains suggests that despite experiencing cultural upheaval the Mississauga were able to preserve elements of their traditional lifeways and ethnic identity.


This article was originally published in Northeast Historical Archaeology, 33: 153-176. © 2004 Buffalo State College. Reproduced with permission.