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Catawba Valley Mississippian

Ceramics, Chronology, and Cawtawba Indians

Written by David G. Moore

Publication Year: 2002

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.

Published by: The University of Alabama Press


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pp. vii

List of Figures

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pp. ix-x

List of Plates

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pp. xi-xii

List of Tables

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pp. xiii-xvi


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pp. xvii-xx

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pp. 1-10

From late December 1700 through late February 1701, the Englishman John Lawson traveled from the English settlement at Charles Town in present-day South Carolina to a plantation on the Pamlico River in present-day North Carolina. Lawson recorded numerous observations about plants and animals, the landscape, and the peoples he encountered (Lefler 1967)...

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1. Catawba Valley Ethnohistory and Catawba Origins

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pp. 11-49

John Lawson’s visit with the “Kadapau King” was brief, but it is with his account that one usually begins the history of the Catawba Indians on the new Anglo-American frontier. Lawson clearly describes a group of apparently flourishing tribes—the Esaw, Sugaree, and Kadapau—in the vicinity of the confluence of Sugar Creek and the Catawba River. These tribes are the core groups of what became known over the next half century...

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2. Upper Catawba Valley Sites and Ceramics

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pp. 50-99

This chapter presents an overview of the archaeology (post–a.d. 1000) of the upper Catawba River valley. The chapter begins with a review of previous research followed by brief descriptions of the Berry and McDowell sites, the two major excavated sites in the region, as well as descriptions...

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3. Upper Yadkin Valley Sites and Ceramics

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pp. 100-124

In Caldwell County, the upper Yadkin River rises on the eastern flank of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The river flows northeast at the foot of the mountains to form a valley nearly 20 miles long before turning east and then south to flow through the North Carolina Piedmont. The northeast-trending Yadkin valley...

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4. Middle and Lower Catawba Valley Sites and Ceramics

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pp. 125-160

This chapter examines the sites and ceramics from the middle and lower portion of the Catawba valley. This area is crucial to an understanding of any potential relationship between the protohistoric upper valley peoples and the Catawba peoples located in the lower valley in the eighteenth century...

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5. Late Prehistoric and Early Historic Period Catawba Valley Chronology

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pp. 161-184

The preceding chapters have demonstrated that the sand- or soapstone-tempered, complicated-stamped, plain, and burnished pottery of the upper Catawba River valley are, in fact, representative of the late prehistoric and protohistoric pottery of the entire Catawba valley and the extreme upper Yadkin River valley in North Carolina...

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pp. 185-196

Although the Catawba and Yadkin valley phases introduced in the previous chapter lack the temporal precision of other Lamar phases (Williams and Shapiro 1990), we are able for the

A. The McDowell Site

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pp. 197-212

B. The Berry Site

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pp. 213-256

C. Catawba Valley Pottery

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pp. 257-288

D. Ceramic Analysis Methodology

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pp. 289-298

E. Report on Plant Remains from the Berry and McDowell Sites

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pp. 299-314

F. National Museum of Natural History Collections: Caldwell County, North Carolina

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pp. 315-322

References Cited

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pp. 323-344


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pp. 345-359

E-ISBN-13: 9780817382094
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817311636

Publication Year: 2002

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Mississippian culture.
  • Yadkin River Valley (N.C.) -- Antiquities.
  • Catawba Indians -- History.
  • Catawba River Valley (N.C. and S.C.) -- Antiquities.
  • Catawba Indians -- Antiquities.
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