Defending and Provisioning the Catawba Nation: An Archaeology of the Mid-Eighteenth-Century Communities at Nation Ford Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
  • Fitts, Mary
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Anthropology
  • In the mid-eighteenth century, several Catawba communities were situated near Nation Ford, where the main trading path that traversed the southern Appalachian Piedmont crossed the Catawba River. Men from these communities had adopted a militaristic strategy of serving as auxiliaries for the English colonies. The alliance between the Catawba Nation and South Carolina, in particular, precipitated a set of processes that transformed the conditions of daily life near Nation Ford. Two of these processes were settlement aggregation and the incorporation of native refugee communities. In this dissertation I consider whether the political process of centralization through which refugees were incorporated into the Catawba Nation was accompanied by parallel changes in economic organization, particularly with regard to foodways. I also examine the impacts of settlement aggregation on the formulation of community identities and the farming and foraging practices of Catawba women. In addressing these topics, I consult primary documents to assess the character of the alliance between the English colonies and the Catawba Nation, and to trace the development of the Catawba’s role as auxiliaries. I also examine archaeological materials from the mid-eighteenth-century Catawba settlements of Nassaw-Weyapee and Charraw Town to access the activities of Catawba women, particularly with regard to making pottery, farming, and collecting wild foods. I find that the incorporation of refugee groups was not accompanied by uniform changes in Nation Ford communities of practice. On the one hand, variation in pottery attributes suggests this particular craft was taught and undertaken in household or matrilocal groups. However, women appear to have been processing less maize at Charraw Town relative to Nassaw, a pattern that may indicate the development of collaborative networks that cross-cut Catawba settlements. It also appears that a more anthropogenic environment had developed near Nation Ford as a result of settlement aggregation. This circumstance likely contributed to a food security crisis between 1755 and 1759, when enemy raids, European settler encroachment, and a regional drought all interfered with Catawba subsistence practices. Ultimately, this study highlights the double-edged nature of strategies available to American Indian groups seeking to maintain political autonomy in early colonial period contexts.
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  • In Copyright
  • DuVal, Kathleen
  • Scarry, C. Margaret
  • Wiener, Margaret
  • Davis, R. P. Stephen
  • Tomaskova, Silvia
  • Riggs, Brett
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2015
Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
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