Tom Andrews, PhD

Principal, Spruceroot Heritage Consulting, Sherwood Park, Alberta


Principal, Spruceroot Heritage Consulting, Sherwood Park, Alberta

Fellow and Research Associate, Arctic Institute of North America, University of Calgary

Retired Territorial Archaeologist, Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, GNWT, Yellowknife.

Education: PhD

Research Link:

Research Statement:

As a researcher, I am interested in collaborative approaches where many hands and minds can work together on a common objective. I am interested in the ontology and materiality of objects, relationships between humans and animals, links between technology and cosmology, the epistemology and ontology of Dene conceptions and experiences of the environment and ways of knowing, and the epistemological role of stories in the transmission of knowledge. I am also interested in research advocacy, especially with respect to issues of social justice and heritage protection. Methodologically, I am interested in travelling on the land in traditional ways to try to learn how people perceive and experience it. I am interested in learning about objects by having skilled practitioners and knowledge holders teach me how to make them.

Description of Research Program:

In the 1980s I worked for the Dene Nation as Director of the Dene Mapping Project, a research group assigned digitize traditional land use mapping data and to support negotiation of a comprehensive land claim.

From 1990 to 2017, I worked as an archaeologist with the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, where I specialized in projects that involved collaboration with Indigenous communities.  Working in a museum environment permitted me to work broadly within the disciplines of anthropology, ethnohistory and museum practice. Between 1990 and 1994 I worked collaboratively with the Tłįchǫ on a series of ethnoarchaeology projects focused on traditional birchbark canoe trails. These projects spawned a series of cultural revitalization projects based on features or artifacts that we found during the archaeological surveys.  For example, we recorded the remains of nearly 50 birchbark canoes which lead to a project to document the construction of a canoe that now resides in the local school in Edzo, NWT.  The main product of the project (besides the canoe) was a 28-minute documentary detailing the construction in Tłįchǫ with English subtitles. This partnership model was used again several years later when the PWNHC and Tłįchǫ collaborated on making two caribou skin conical lodge coverings, inspired by the repatriation of a century-old lodge from the University of Iowa, in which I played a key role. Often these cultural revitalization projects involve travelling with Indigenous elders to museums outside of the NWT to view objects in their collections. Beginning in 2005, we initiated the NWT Ice Patch Study, a project that combined the physical, biological, and social sciences with traditional knowledge to investigate past and present environmental and human change in the Mackenzie and Selwyn Mountains.  Collaborating with the Mountain Dene on 6000 years of ice patch archaeology led to important new joint cultural revitalization projects, including the documentation of the construction of a mooseskin boat (2013). 

Retiring in 2017, I maintain research interests through consulting activities and am currently working with the Dene Nation on two projects.

Significant Contributions:

Andrews, TD, Kritsch I, and Andrew L. 2022. The Mountain Dene, the Mooseskin boat, and

the Keele River. In Paddling Pathways: Reflections from a Changing Landscape, eds. B.

Henderson and S. Blenkinsop, 240-252. Regina: YNWP Publishing.

Andrews TD and Brink J. 2022. Using retroReveal and DStretch as complimentary techniques for

enhancing red ochre pictographs. Canadian Journal of Archaeology, 46(1):1-15.

Andrews TD, Kokelj SJ, MacKay G, Buysse J, Kritsch I, Andre A, and Lantz T. 2016. Permafrost thaw and

Aboriginal cultural landscapes in the Gwich’in region, Canada.  APT Bulletin, 47(1):15-22.

Helwig K, Monahan V, Poulin J, and Andrews TD. 2014. Ancient projectile weapons from ice patches in

Northwestern Canada: Identification of resin and compound resin-ochre hafting adhesives. Journal of

Archaeological Science 41:655-665.

Andrews TD. 2013. Mobile Architecture, Improvisation, and Museum Practice: Revitalizing the Tłįchǫ

Caribou Skin Lodge. In: Anderson DG, Wishart R, & Vaté V, editors, About the hearth: Perspectives on the

Home, Hearth and Household in the Circumpolar North. Oxford: Berghahn Books. P 29-53.

Andrews TD, and Buggey S. 2012. Canadian Aboriginal Cultural Landscapes in Praxis. In: Taylor K, and

Lennon J, (eds.) Managing Cultural Landscapes. London: Routledge. p. 253-271.

Alix C, Hare PG, Andrews TD, and MacKay G. 2012. A Thousand Years of Lost Hunting Arrows: Wood

Analysis of Ice Patch Remains in Northwestern Canada. Arctic 65(5):95-117.

Andrews TD, MacKay G, Andrew L, Stephenson W, Barker A, and the Shúhtagot’ine elders of Tulita.

2012. Alpine ice patches and Shúhtagot’ine Land Use in the Mackenzie and Selwyn Mountains,

Northwest Territories, Canada. Arctic 65(5):22-42.

Nicholas GP, and Andrews TD, editors. 1997. At a Crossroads: Archaeology and First Peoples in Canada.

Vancouver: Archaeology Press, Simon Fraser University.