Vegetation History and Culture Change in Labrador Prehistory

W. W. Fitzhugh, H. F. Lamb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper reviews the history and distribution of Labrador's Indian and Eskimo cultures in relation to vegetation history for the past 8000 yr. The previously hypothesized correlation between the Indian-Eskimo boundary and the position of the northern forest margin is examined with new information from analog data from modern and fossil pollen assemblages across this ecotone. The northern movement and development of Maritime Archaic culture (7500 to 3500 BP) closely parallels the northern movement of the shrub and forest zone for this period. However, despite evidence of climatic cooling after 3500 BP the northern forest boundary remains relatively stable in the Okak-Napartok region for the last 4000 yr. Yet this period is one of major changes in Indian and Eskimo distributions. Complexities in interpreting these records are discussed. While nonvegetation types of paleoecological data are needed to provide information on other terrestrial and marine conditions, current data suggest that social and historical factors were the primary determinants of ethnic boundary shifts for the past 4000 yr of Labrador prehistory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-370
Number of pages14
JournalArctic & Alpine Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 01 Nov 1985


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