Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Cherokee Households and Communities in the English Contact Period, A.D. 1670-1740

This study focuses on issues of culture contact and the materialization of identity through an archaeological case study of a late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century Cherokee community located in eastern Tennessee. The English Contact period (ca. A.D. 1670-1740) was an extremely turbulent time for southeastern Indian groups marked by disease, warfare, and population movements. I examine how this chaotic period played out in the daily lives of Cherokee households. I use primary and secondary sources to develop an historical context for the English Contact period in the southeastern United States. I introduce a reliable way to identify English Contact period Cherokee occupations using pottery and glass trade bead data. I also consult artifact data in order to identify patterns associated with change and stability in the activities of daily life within Cherokee households. I find that daily life in Cherokee households changed dramatically as they coped with the shifting social, political, and economic currents of the English Contact period. Based on variability in household pottery assemblages, I argue that this particular Cherokee community included households that migrated from geographically disparate Cherokee settlements. This type of social coalescence is documented among other Indian groups as a strategy employed to ameliorate population loss resulting from European contact. I also find that the architecture and spatial organization of Cherokee communities changed dramatically during the English Contact period. Specifically, the later communities lacked the highly structured spatial organization and long-lived residential areas that typified earlier Mississippian period communities. Ultimately, I argue that these changes too were strategic adaptations to the flexible and transient lifestyle required during the period.