A Theory of Northern Athapaskan Prehistory


404 pages
Contains Illustrations, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-919813-67-4
DDC 971.9'00497





Reviewed by Peter Goodchild

Peter Goodchild, an editor and author, teaches ESL in Japan.


The Athapaskan peoples had extraordinary success in sweeping over North
America from Alaska to the U.S. Southwest. Their movement was swift, yet
these people maintained a linguistic and (in certain ways) cultural

Ives believes that much can be learned about Athapaskan prehistory, not
by an examination of material remains, but by a close study of kinship
terminology. The various Athapaskan terminologies point to an original
Dravidian-type language. The type of terminology employed by a people is
closely tied to the broader social behavior of that people: kinship
terminology indicates a way of life. An elaborate kinship terminology
implies an elaborate social structure, which in turn implies a large
social group and a sedentary way of life, as Ives posits for the
proto-Athapaskans. What seems to be a rather abstract concern,
therefore, leads us back to concrete issues about early Athapaskan
society. This is an important book.


Ives, John W., “A Theory of Northern Athapaskan Prehistory,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 23, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/11629.