Applied Archaeology in the Americas: Evaluating Archaeological Solutions to the Impacts of Global Environmental Change
Jago Cooper and Lindsay Duncan
This chapter considers the role of archaeology in creating solutions for coping with the impacts of global environmental change, illustrated by cases from Latin America. Past examples of the practical application of pre-Columbian innovations and techniques are considered, and the key themes of social practice and community engagement discussed. These principles are then applied to the islands of the Caribbean where archaeology can play an important role in accessing and illuminating pre-Columbian lifeways in the region. The comparative resilience of past and present lifeways to the hazards created by extreme weather events, precipitation variability, and sea level changes are discussed, and the role of archaeology as a means of engaging the public, stimulating discussion, and informing debate is considered.
Stephen W. Silliman
This article aims to outline themes of research in Native northern California, specifically under Spanish/Mexican and Russian control, in order to highlight key issues in North American archaeology that manifest uniquely and informatively on the West Coast. It restricts this discussion to northern California since this region has produced to date some of the most detailed and theoretically rich insights into Native American histories and cultures in colonial California. A fundamental issue in the archaeology of Native Americans during colonial periods is the question of change and continuity. The answers frequently rely on dichotomous categories of colonizer and colonized, or European and Native American, and rarely delve into the intersection of material culture, space, social memory, and labor to answer these difficult questions.
The French colony of Acadia, located in what is now the Maritime Provinces of Canada and part of the State of Maine, has long attracted the attention of writers and scholars. Immigrating to the region in the early seventeenth century, the Acadian colonists established a viable agricultural economy without alienating the region’s indigenous peoples. Despite these achievements, imperial politics brought war to the region in the mid-eighteenth century, and saw most of the French inhabitants removed by force. Historical archaeology is helping to recover details of this early Canadian immigrant experience, but the task is complicated by a scholarly tradition dominated by romanticism and myth. This chapter surveys the development of historical archaeology in reference to the Acadians in Nova Scotia, noting how archaeology has helped reframe understandings of this colonial experience, and suggesting ways to carry the project further.
Anne M. Jensen and Glenn W. Sheehan
This chapter covers the contact and postcontact period of Iñupiat history in northern and northwestern Alaska, drawing on archaeological and ethnohistorical records. The period of interest saw gradually increasing interaction with Europeans—initially Russian, and eventually British and American. In terms of archaeology, though, the contact period, and in particular the nineteenth century, is under-represented. This chapter covers the radical changes impacting Iñupiat society in terms of settlement patterns, warfare, trade, architecture, social relations, mortuary practices and the history and effects of contact with Euro-Americans. Several areas that could benefit from additional research are highlighted, including continued research on early political and social organization, as well as projects aimed at understanding early non-Native sites in the region.
David Hurst Thomas
From San Francisco, California to St. Augustine, Florida, the Franciscan mission system of the sixteenth–nineteenth centuries was the primary locus of protracted contact between Native Americans and Hispanic newcomers. This article examines how our perception of the archaeological record—specifically with respect to Indian agency—has long varied across the Spanish Borderlands, reflecting biases and misperceptions constructed in academic historiography and popular regional culture. Most archaeologists seem to view the Spanish colonial period in the Southwest as relatively well understood and well investigated. But Ivey and Thomas (2005) question this assumption, especially as regards mission archaeology, where only a dozen or so seventeenth-century missions have been “excavated” or even minimally “tested.” And viewed critically, the details of this research come across as hasty, outdated, and poorly reported.
Susan Kaplan and James Woollett
The Thule groups that migrated into Labrador around the late thirteenth century settled in a part of the north that was away from the well-traveled migration routes of their cousins. However, the newcomers to Labrador did not settle into a marginal environment. Their new home offered a diversity of marine and terrestrial resources, some of them novel, that by the end of the eighteenth century supported large Inuit communities. While moving into Labrador may have isolated Labrador Inuit from their northern relatives, their interactions with the Western world were early and intense. As a result of history and geography, as well as Inuit adaptability, eighteenth-century Labrador Inuit were participants in a world economy and their culture evolved accordingly, socially, economically, and politically. They adapted to changing environmental and social circumstances, employing technologies and strategies with which their ancestors came to Labrador, while selectively adopting useful European materials and networks.
Vergil E. Noble
Colonization efforts along the Atlantic seaboard and the St. Lawrence River valley came to impose intense pressure on native populations, increasing competition and conflict among many aboriginal groups. This in turn would bring about dramatic changes in political organization, settlement patterns, and demographics. Kin groups coalesced into larger tribal entities. Those closely involved with the commerce began to settle in large villages around trading centers, which made them more susceptible to European control and vulnerable to their devastating infectious diseases. Some would be displaced from their homelands in the East and moved westward, where they subsequently came into conflict with other groups that they encountered. Widespread epidemics of smallpox and other exotic maladies would eventually affect many native populations, reducing their numbers and fragmenting their traditional social systems.
The children in New York City’s nineteenth-century working-class immigrant families were explorers. It was they, more than their parents, who had the time and the nerve to go beyond their immediate neighbourhoods. Neither constrained by regular work nor school (at least until 1874 when school became mandatory), they were free to wander the streets—to work at odd jobs, to challenge the law with minor (and probably some major) illegal acts. Working-class children made their own world outside the tenements where there was no room to play inside. Their lives were relatively unsupervised and they thrived on the freedom. The challenge for urban archaeologists is to find material evidence of working-class children’s activities. This chapter explores the archaeological evidence for working-class children’s lives through a number of excavated sites and brings a new understanding to the life of children in New York city.