Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Anthropology
This dissertation is an archaeological investigation of Catawba households occupied between ca. 1762 and 1800. The focus of this study is to identify the material signatures of Catawba household life and investigate the strategies Catawba people pursued during the late 18th century and how they changed through time. I examine archaeological data from three Catawba domestic sites, Old Town (RLA-SoC 634), Ayers Town (38YK534), and Nisbet (RLA-SoC 638), to identify patterns of household variability within and between these communities at multiple scales. I rely on three central aspects of household archaeological data: (1) the organization and layout of architectural remains and activity areas, (2) the patterned distribution of material culture, particularly Catawba-made colonoware ceramics, (3) and variation in Catawba foodways.
By combining a critical examination of historical and ethnohistorical documentation with archaeological analysis, I demonstrate that Catawba households, far from being homogenous entities, experimented with a variety of creative solutions that contributed to different material outcomes for households at each site and even within the site. I argue that the diversity of household strategies reflects both the presence of persistent internal tribal divisions that produced discrete communities of practice and a pragmatic approach to economic and cultural survival in which individuals, notably Catawba women, redeployed traditional skills and knowledge to novel economic niches. This analysis of Catawba household variability between ca. 1760 and 1800 is informed by, and builds on, previous archaeological studies of historic Catawba lifeways immediately preceding and following this period. These studies describe starkly different lifeways and cultural practices that belie the direct cultural continuity and relatively short temporal interval between them. The present work attempts to bridge the gap between these seemingly disparate communities.