May 2015: Dr. April Beisaw, Seeing Native American Women’s Response to Colonialism in the Archaeological Record
May 17, 2015 at 3pm
Dr. April Beisaw
Seeing Native American Women’s Response to Colonialism in the Archaeological Record
Colonial documents were written by men and overwhelmingly speak of male activities. Archaeological research relying on colonial documents for historical context tend to repeat these stories of violence and death by highlighting weaponry and burials. But we can seek alternative ways to interpret archaeological deposits dating from the 16th to 18th centuries. One alternative is to use traditional Native American stories as an interpretive framework. The Iroquoian Creation Story provided the framework for reinterpreting the archaeology of the Susquehannock villages of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Women and female activities, are central to the Creation Story and in Lancaster, artifacts traditionally associated with women are decorated with Creation Story imagery. These objects suggest that when faced with European colonialism, Native women took part in a cult of optimism that sought to rebalance their world.