Dr. Steven Dorland

Dr. Steven Dorland

Assistant Professor

Office: 228 Lake Michigan Hall

Phone: (616) 331-8211

Email: [email protected]

I am an anthropologist and a community-based archaeologist, studying material culture in the archaeological record and working in partnership with Indigenous communities in the Great Lakes region. I received my BA (2009) and my MSc (2012) in Anthropology from the University of Toronto, Canada, where I focused on pottery production and style. In 2019, I completed my PhD in Anthropology at the University of Toronto. My dissertation research focused on ceramic collections recovered in the Great Lakes region to investigate childhood and social learning experiences of pre-contact Indigenous societies.

I have been at Grand Valley since 2022. I teach Native Peoples of North America, Introduction to Archaeology and will be teaching the field school in the summer of 2023.

As an archaeologist who studies material culture, I have focused primarily on pottery artifacts and identifying social strategies in potting communities, working with Indigenous community members to understand pottery technologies, investigating childhood experiences and material traces, and conducting experimental archaeology.

Although my research and fieldwork has focused primarily on southern Ontario and upstate New York, I have had opportunities to be involved in fieldwork on the Northwest Coast, the Canadian Prairies, and in South Africa. I have also worked in Cultural Resource Management, or contract archaeology, in Canada for several years.

Currently, my main research is a community-based project hosted by Mississaugas of the Credit and Mississauga Nation in Ontario, Learning about Learning. The main focus of this project is to bring together Archaeology and Mississauga Traditional Knowledge to develop capacity building for Indigenous youth, learn about past traditional practices, and provide opportunities for Indigenous youth and community members to be involved in a community-led project focusing on Anishinaabeg history and heritage.

We are in the second year of our project that began through virtual workshops focusing on pottery building, development of transferable skills, and developing community networks and intergenerational knowledge sharing in the community through a fireside chat speaker series. This year, we moved the project in person and developed an archaeological camp that focused on developing archaeological skills, practicing land-based learning with community knowledge keepers, and engaging in cultural activities with community members. The project is fully supported by Mississauga Nation Council and by community youth, parents and caretakers who have taken part. This project has been funded by the Wenner Gren Foundation, and a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Insight Development Grant, in partnership with Mississauga Nation, Dalhousie University and University of Toronto Mississauga.

This project is only in the early stages, and there will eventually be opportunities for students to help build this project, meet Indigenous communities members, learn about the importance of relationship building with Indigenous communities, and learn through valuable experiential and service-based learning experiences.


I welcome students to come to speak to me about research possibilities in material culture studies and community-based archaeology.

Page last modified August 25, 2022