Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Anthropology
The focus of this research is to examine Cherokee-colonial/Euroamerican encounters from the late-seventeenth through the early-nineteenth centuries through the analysis of archaeological plant remains. Cherokees, like other Native American groups, experienced significant disruptions in their lifeways as a result of European colonization. The spread of Old World diseases and increased conflict led to displacement of Cherokee settlements and disruptions in agricultural. However, there is also evidence that Cherokees adjusted to these changes and continued to live in relative stability. For example, historic accounts from Europeans indicate that Cherokees underwent a period of what they described as “prosperity” in the late-eighteenth century, during which Cherokees grew large amounts of maize and adopted a new staple crop, the sweet potato. I use the macrobotanical remains from several archeological sites occupied before and during European colonization to clarify how individual Cherokee towns, and Cherokees as a whole, experienced colonization. I compare sites in the Appalachian highlands region occupied from the Mississippian period (circa A.D. 1000 to A.D. 1540) through the early-nineteenth century (A.D. 1540 to circa 1830) to examine changes and continuity in subsistence practices before and during European colonization.