An excellent example of ethnohistory and archaeology working together, this model study reveals the origins of the Catawba Indians of North Carolina.
By the 18th century, the modern Catawba Indians were living along the river and throughout the valley that bears their name near the present North Carolina-South Carolina border, but little was known of their history and origins. With this elegant study, David Moore proposes a model that bridges the archaeological record of the protohistoric Catawba Valley with written accounts of the Catawba Indians from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, thus providing an ethnogenesis theory for these Native Americans.
Because the Catawba Confederacy had a long tradition of pottery making, dating ceramics and using them for temporal control was central to establishing a regional cultural chronology. Moore accomplishes this with a careful, thorough review and analysis of disparate data from the whole valley. His archaeological discoveries support documentary evidence of 16th century Spaniards in the region interacting with the resident Indians. By tracking the Spanish routes through the Catawba River valley and comparing their reported interactions with the native population with known archaeological sites and artifacts, he provides a firm chronological and spatial framework for Catawba Indian prehistory.
With excellent artifact photographs and data-rich appendixes, this book is a model study that induces us to contemplate a Catawba genesis and homeland more significant than traditionally supposed. It will appeal to professional archaeologists concerned with many topics-Mississippian, Lamar, early historic Indians, de Soto, Pardo, and chiefdom studies-as well as to the broader public interested in the archaeology of the Carolinas.
David G. Moore is Assistant Professor of Archaeology at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina.