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Between Contacts and Colonies

Archaeological Perspectives on the Protohistoric Southeast

Edited by Cameron B. Wesson and Mark A. Rees, with contributions from David H. D

Publication Year: 2002

This collection of essays brings together diverse approaches to the analysis of Native American culture in the protohistoric period.

For most Native American peoples of the Southeast, almost two centuries passed between first contact with European explorers in the 16th century and colonization by whites in the 18th century—a temporal span commonly referred to as the Protohistoric period. A recent flurry of interest in this period by archaeologists armed with an improved understanding of the complexity of culture contact situations and important new theoretical paradigms has illuminated a formerly dark time frame.

This volume pulls together the current work of archaeologists, historians, and anthropologists to demonstrate a diversity of approaches to studying protohistory. Contributors address different aspects of political economy, cultural warfare, architecture, sedentism, subsistence, foods, prestige goods, disease, and trade. From examination of early documents by René Laudonnière and William Bartram to a study of burial goods distribution patterns; and from an analysis of Caddoan research in Arkansas and Louisiana to an interesting comparison of Apalachee and Powhatan elites, this volume ranges broadly in subject matter. What emerges is a tantalizingly clear view of the protohistoric period in North America.

Between Contacts and Colonies reveals how the knowledgeable use of historical documents, innovative archaeological research, and emerging theory in anthropology can be integrated to arrive at a better understanding of this crucial period. It will be valuable for scholars and students of archaeology and anthropology, cultural historians, and academic librarians.

Cameron B. Wesson is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Mark A. Rees is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Published by: The University of Alabama Press


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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

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1. Protohistory and Archaeology: An Overview

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pp. 1-11

Initial contacts between Native Americans and Europeans set in motion a process of acute cultural transformation for indigenous peoples. These contacts were followed by widespread death from European-introduced diseases, displacement of local populations, reorganization of existing political economies, introduction of new material goods and technologies...

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2. Human Ecology at the Edge of History

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pp. 12-31

The body of literature on the archaeology and ethnohistory of the Protohistoric period in the Southeast has received some important additions in recent years (Clayton et al. 1993; Dye 1989; Dye and Brister 1986; M. T. Smith 1987; Waselkov 1989a). Relatively few of these studies, however, examine in detail the ecological aspects of indirect contact...

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3. Seasonality, Sedentism, Subsistence, and Disease in the Protohistoric: Archaeological versus Ethnohistoric Data along the Lower Atlantic Coast

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pp. 32-48

Along the lower Atlantic coast, the period between ca. A.D. 1500 and 1600 was a time of intermittent, sometimes violent, contact between Spanish and French explorers and Native Americans. This relatively brief period nevertheless produced an extensive documentary record. Use of these documents can be frustrating however, as written information...

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4. Caddoan Area Protohistory and Archaeology

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pp. 49-66

The de Soto chronicles (Clayton et al. 1993; Hudson 1997) introduce us to the Caddo Indian peoples of the Trans-Mississippi South (Figure 4.1). It was a hard introduction all around (cf. P. E. Hoffman 1993). The Gentleman of Elvas had this to say when the Spaniards reached the Caddo province of Naguatex on the Red River in August of 1542...

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5. William Bartram and the Archaeology of the Appalachian Summit

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pp. 67-89

During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, tribal communities composed of several different towns and groups of towns formed out of the vestiges of the diverse Mississippian chiefdoms that rose and fell in southeastern North America from the eleventh through the sixteenth centuries (Galloway 1994, 1995; Knight 1994a; Muller 1997...

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6. “As caves beneath the ground”: Making Sense of Aboriginal House Form in the Protohistoric and Historic Southeast

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pp. 90-109

I have always found Historic period descriptions of aboriginal habitation structures in the southern Appalachian region confusing. The buildings often sound so bizarre and different from one another that I am tempted to question the observational abilities of European eyewitnesses. Houses are variously described as resembling caves, open pavilions, or European style dwellings...

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7. Prestige Goods, Symbolic Capital, and Social Power in the Protohistoric Southeast

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pp. 110-125

The fist Europeans to encounter Native American elites of the Southeast portrayed them as authoritative rulers exercising power over large populations and vast territories. They resided in large houses spatially segregated from the domiciles of non-elites (and frequently placed atop earthen mounds), controlled the production and exchange of high-status goods...

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8. Warfare in the Protohistoric Southeast: 1500–1700

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pp. 126-141

Warfare in the Southeast evolved over the past millennia from small-scale raids and ambushes of hunter-gatherers to formal battles among competing, rival chiefdoms. Explaining the processes responsible for these changes has been a continual challenge for archaeologists, ethnohistorians, and anthropologists. In this chapter I argue that by the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries...

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9. Elite Actors in the Protohistoric: Elite Identities and Interaction with Europeans in the Apalachee and Powhatan Chiefdoms

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pp. 142-169

The Protohistoric period (the time between initial European contact and the intensive interaction of the Historic period) was an important time in eastern North America. During the Protohistoric period, native societies

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10. Subsistence Economy and Political Culture in the Protohistoric Central Mississippi Valley

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pp. 170-198

Surveying the prehistory and protohistory of the Lower Mississippi Valley a half-century ago, Philip Phillips wrote of the importance of identifying “late archaeological complexes with living peoples,” setting the standard for archaeological and ethnohistorical research in the southeastern United States (Phillips et al. 1951:347; e.g., Galloway 1995...


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pp. 199-160


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pp. 261-262


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pp. 263-270

E-ISBN-13: 9780817384746
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817311674

Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 2002

OCLC Number: 705864543
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Between Contacts and Colonies

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Subject Headings

  • Southern States -- Antiquities -- Congresses.
  • Indians of North America -- Southern States -- Antiquities -- Congresses.
  • Indians of North America -- Southern States -- History -- Congresses.
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