Draft Statement of Significance of the Boucher Cemetery Site
for inclusion in the National Register if Historic Places
Peter Thomas, Archaeologist
US Department of Homeland Security
Practices of interment at the Boucher Cemetery Site were noticeably varied. Some individuals were cremated prior to burial. The remains of others were evidently stored in some manner, thus allowing the flesh to decompose before burial in bundles of dis-articulated bones. Others were interred directly in the ground shortly after the time of death. A minimum total of 43 inhumations, of which two were bundle burials, and 17 cremations were encountered. Of the 17 cremations, three contained the remains of two individuals each. All remains were placed in graves that ranged in depth from 3 to 6 feet. Such a variety of practices is repeated at other cemeteries of the time throughout the region.
Based on a detailed analysis of the characteristics of the graves and the quantity and/or types of goods included, no discernible pattern was found that suggested that the mode of burial was dependent upon age, gender or status of the individual. This has led to speculation that such sites as Boucher were sacred locations of extended families or other kin groups that were used over hundreds of years, and that the presence of cremations and secondary bundle burials stems from the fact that some members of this kin group died at considerable distances from their formal burial site. Thus, their remains were treated in a different method until a more ritualized interment could occur (Hackenberger, etc al 1990); Heckenberger, Peterson and Basa (1990).
A variety of mortuary artifacts, including numerous shell and copper beads, blocked-end tubular pipes for smoking tobacco, projectile points, bifaces, gorgets, celts, a boatstone, and Vinette 1 ceramic vessels, were among the accompanying artifacts. These goods attest to the highly ritualized treatment of the deceased, both here and at less documented cemeteries of the time throughout the larger region, as such goods were undoubtedly acquired at considerable cost to the living.
The quantity and variety of such artifacts also attest to the wide-ranging exchange networks that operated during the Early Woodland period. For example, a total of 119 flaked stone tools were recovered at the Boucher site. A number are made from local Hathaway formation chert or Champlain Valley quartzite, but roughly 52% consist of exotic items manufactured from raw materials drawn from distant sources, including New York State cherts, such as Normanskill, Eastern and Western Onondaga cherts, as well as Flint Ridge and Wyandot chert from Harrison County, Indiana. Fine-grained Mistassini quartzite and argillite, probably derive from northern and southern Quebec, as well as Kineo rhyolite, sourced from northern Maine, are also present.
Other types of artifacts were imported from equally distant sources. Of 19 blocked-end tubular smoking pipes, at least 15 are made of "Ohio fireclay"; the remainder are made from unidentified materials. One "boatstone" or gorget was manufactured from a banded slate derived from the upper Great Lakes region. By far the largest number of artifacts recovered consists of 6,732 copper artifacts, predominately beads, and substantial quantities of shell beads. As noted ...
David Skinas, USDA/NRCS
Chief April St. St. Francis-Merrill, Abenaki Nation at Missisquoi
November 2, 2010