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Stone Tool Traditions in the Contact Era

Edited by Charles Richard Cobb, with contributions from Jay K. Johnson, Michael

Publication Year: 2003

Explores the impact of European colonization on Native American and Pacific Islander technology and culture. This is the first comprehensive analysis of the partial replacement of flaked stone and ground stone traditions by metal tools in the Americas during the Contact Era. It examines the functional, symbolic, and economic consequences of that replacement on the lifeways of native populations, even as lithic technologies persisted well after the landing of Columbus. Ranging across North America and to Hawaii, the studies show that, even with wide access to metal objects, Native Americans continued to produce certain stone tool types—perhaps because they were still the best implements for a task or because they represented a deep commitment to a traditional practice. Chapters are ordered in terms of relative degree of European contact, beginning with groups that experienced brief episodes of interaction, such as the Wichita-French meeting on the Arkansas River, and ending with societies that were heavily influenced by colonization, such as the Potawatomi of Illinois. Because the anthology draws comparisons between the persistence of stone tools and the continuity of other indigenous crafts, it presents holistic models that can be used to explain the larger consequences of the Contact Era. Marvin T. Smith, of Valdosta State University has stated that, "after reading this volume, no archaeologist will ever see the replacement of lithic technology by metal tools as a simple matter of replacement of technologically inferior stone tools with their superior metal counterparts. This is cutting-edge scholarship in the area of contact period studies." Charles R. Cobb is Professor of Anthropology at Binghamton University and author of From Quarry to Cornfield: The Political Economy of Mississippian Hoe Production, also available from The University of Alabama Press.

Published by: The University of Alabama Press


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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-viii

List of Tables

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pp. ix

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1. Introduction: Framing Stone Tool Traditions after Contact

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pp. 1-12

The Columbian quincentennial in 1992 played a key role in prompting an interest in Contact-period research, but archaeology has had a history with the topic long before that date—even if the appellation “Contact” has only recently begun to enjoy widespread currency as a discrete field of study. ...

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2. Lithic Technology and the Spanish Entrada at the King Site in Northwest Georgia

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pp. 13-28

The de Soto expedition (1539 to 1542) marked the first major, organized Spanish incursion into the interior Southeast of the present-day United States. Although it stands as a watershed event in the Contact era, smaller European forays had touched down numerous times along coastal areas prior to de Soto. ...

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3. Wichita Tools on First Contact with the French

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pp. 29-50

The clash of worldviews that results from contact between widely divergent cultural groups has served for years as grist for the mills of history and anthropology. The desire to generalize the results of this experience has stimulated the production of models that seek to explain the phenomenon or at least to describe it. ...

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4. Chickasaw Lithic Technology: A Reassessment

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pp. 51-58

My first exposure to a Contact-period lithic assemblage came when I volunteered to analyze the stone tools from the Orchard site, an early-eighteenth-century Chickasaw site in northeast Mississippi. The collection contained many surprises (Johnson 1997). I had expected that the access to European trade goods would have resulted in the complete replacement of stone tools with metal...

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5. Tools of Contact: A Functional Analysis of the Cameron Site Chipped-Stone Assemblage

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pp. 59-77

The introduction of European materials into Native-American cultures during the Contact period had undeniable ramifications on traditional technological systems. From a functional perspective, the articulation between the new European materials, particularly metal, and stone tools is crucial to understanding how native cultures integrated European materials into their cultural systems. ...

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6. Lithic Artifacts in Seventeenth-Century Native New England

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pp. 78-93

When the seventeenth-century Narragansetts were told the biblical creation story involving Adam and Eve, they responded by offering their own account of human origins. They claimed “that Kautantowwit made one man and woman of a stone, which disliking, he broke them in pieces, and made another man and woman of a tree, which were the fountaines...

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7. Stone Adze Economies in Post-Contact Hawai‘i

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pp. 94-108

Identifying and interpreting stone adze economies in Hawai‘i offers valuable insights on the technological consequences of contact between non-Western societies and Europeans. Western contact occurred relatively late in the Hawaiian archipelago (Figure 7.1) compared to much of the Old and New Worlds (e.g., Cobb and Ruggiero, chapter 2; Odell, chapter 3), and indigenous metal working...

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8. In All the Solemnity of Profound Smoking: Tobacco Smoking and Pipe Manufacture and Use among the Potawatomi of Illinois

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pp. 109-126

Tobacco smoking played a pivotal role in the religious, social, and political lives of Native-American peoples throughout eastern North America (West 1934;Winter 2000d). In Illinois, stone smoking pipes first appear during the Late Archaic period (Koldehoff and Seidel 1990:11–13; Winters 1969) although the earliest tobacco-seed remains in the state (and indeed all of eastern North...

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9. Using a Rock in a Hard Place: Native-American Lithic Practices in Colonial California

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pp. 127-150

There is a frequent assumption among the general public that contact with Europeans and their material technologies prompted all Native Americans to abandon stone tool technology rather quickly. Archaeologists have done a poor job of changing that misperception, but it would be difficult to dispel a myth that many archaeologists hold as part of their own academic worldview. ...

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10. Flint and Foxes: Chert Scrapers and the Fur Industry in Late-Nineteenth- and Early-Twentieth-Century North Alaska

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pp. 151-164

In the late winter and early spring of 1892, about 80 I

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11. Discussion

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pp. 165-172

If there are still scholars who think that archaeological data do not add significantly to our understanding of the process of cultural change over the course of the Contact period in North America, the papers in this volume should change their minds. From documenting patterns of change that occurred beyond the reach of literate Europeans to focusing our attention on telling details of well-...

References Cited

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pp. 173-204


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pp. 205-207


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pp. 209-214

E-ISBN-13: 9780817381752
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817313739

Publication Year: 2003