Native American Archaeological Research
in the Catawba/Wateree Valley, 800-1860 A.D.
USC Lancaster Native American Studies Program
Friday March 23, 2012
Bundy Auditorium USCL Lancaster
The unique history and cultural traditions of the indigenous populations of the Catawba/Wateree region were shaped by very early contact with Europeans and subsequent devastations as a result of disease, warfare, and attempts at removal. For these Native Americans, who were often erased from written histories, archaeological research provides the only insight into histories and cultures of these indigenous populations and their interactions with Europeans. Scholars from around the Carolinas, including from CAEC institutions, have approached their fieldwork and research in this region from a variety of perspectives and timeframes, from prehistoric Woodland and Mississippian eras to the antebellum period. USC Lancaster’s “Native American Archaeological Research in the Catawba/Wateree Valley, 800-1860 A.D.” conference attempts
to bring these researchers together for a comprehensive review of this scholarship, a discussion of conflicting perspectives, and a synthesis of discoveries and theories.
The format of the conference will be 30 minute papers followed by a panel of discussants and concluding with an opportunity for audience and participant questions and answers.
10am "The Geography of Native American Ceramic Sequencing on the Carolina Coastal Plain: A Prospectus for Measuring Cultural Interaction and Relatedness."
John Cable, Palmetto Research Institute
ABSTRACT: Ceramic production traditions are composed of a complex system of technological, stylistic and functional elements, all of which hold significance for evaluating the degree of social interaction and cultural relatedness between and within regional populations. Although archaeologists generally recognize this quality of ceramic traditions, methods and approaches directed toward systematizing and quantifying regional patterns of ceramic interaction have been slow to develop. This paper will provide a broad overview of what is known about pre-contact and contact regional ceramic sequences on the Southeast Atlantic Slope of the Carolinas and attempt to develop a framework for examining the cultural relationships between regional populations. In conclusion, strategies for further developing inter-regional data comparability are discussed.
10:30am “The Late Woodland Period in Central South Carolina: A Time of “More”, or a Pit-Stop on the Road from Middle Woodland to Mississippian” Jeremy Varnier, Department of Anthropology, University of South Carolina.
ABSTRACT: Very generally speaking, the Late Woodland period has been described as a time of “more” and as a time of transition. More people, more agriculture, more mound-building, and more sociopolitical complexity. My concern, in this paper, is two-fold: how does the concept of “more” with regard to increasing sociopolitical complexity look in the Wateree Valley during the Late Woodland period, and how does the evidence of increasing sociopolitical complexity manifest itself in the archaeological record? To help elucidate this question I provide a functional analysis of ceramic vessels from sites throughout the Wateree Valley examining a correlation between changing Late Woodland sociopolitical complexities in central South Carolina and variation in construction cost, display value, and size among ceramic vessels.
11:00am “Late Woodland Period Occupations at the Ashe Ferry Site, York County, South Carolina.” Brett H. Riggs and Duane E. Esarey, Research Laboratories of Archaeology, University of North Carolina.
ABSTRACT: Recent large-scale excavations at the Ashe Ferry site (38Yk533), York
County, South Carolina, revealed evidence of serial Late Woodland period encampments that likely represent stations for extraction and processing of nut crops and other resources. AMS assays derived from a variety of discrete features document primary occupations between ca. A.D. 950 and A.D. 1250. Analysis of associated ceramic assemblages clarifies the position of Late Woodland simple stamped wares in the ceramic sequence of the lower Catawba River basin, and illuminates the inception of
Mississippian vessel types and treatments in the region.
1:00pm “An Archaeology of the Settlement Indians of the South Carolina Lowcountry.” Carl Steen, Diachronic Research Foundation.
ABSTRACT: Native Americans present in the South Carolina Lowcountry at British contact in 1670 had already been weakened by disease, and soon faced even more threats. The European settlers wanted to trade with the Indians of the Southeast for furs and slave labor. Outside groups moved closer to the settlements, threatening the locals, who sought the protection of the Europeans. In the slave society of the Lowcountry they faced another danger: being mistaken (or taken) for slaves. To survive and maintain their freedom many left their Native ways behind. This paper will explore their survival, and contributions to Lowcountry culture.
1:30 pm “The Indian Slave Trade and Catawba History.” Mary Elizabeth Fitts, Department of Anthropology University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
ABSTRACT: The American Indian slave trade conducted by South Carolina merchants from approximately 1670 to 1720 left indelible marks upon the sociopolitical landscape of the Southeastern United States. The purpose of this paper is to examine how this period of turmoil influenced the history of a single native
polity, the Catawba Indian Nation, using historic documents, ethnographic works, and archaeological data from mid-eighteenth century Catawba settlements.
The Catawba are one of few native polities of the Carolinas to emerge from the crucible of the Indian slave trade. The threats and opportunities of slave raiding led some groups to join a geographically dispersed confederacy which ultimately became the Catawba Nation. References to the trade of Indian slaves are scarce after the Yamasee War (1715-1717), but the legacy of slave raiding continued to influence Catawba political strategies and daily life. Different kinds of data can elucidate different facets of this influence. Using anthropological approaches to memory and embodied practice in conjunction with documentary sources it is possible to identify specific fears, particularly regarding the safety of Catawba children, as related to early colonial period slave raiding. Archaeological data from the mid eighteenth century Catawba towns of Nassaw, Weyapee, and Charraw, on the other hand, enable an examination of the degree to which the cultural diversity of the Nation, another legacy of the slave trade, affected daily life. These results suggest the impacts of the slave trade upon Southeastern Indian groups have yet to be fully understood.
2:00 pm “An Overview of the Catawba Project, 2001-2011.” R.P. Stephen Davis, Jr. Research Laboratories of Archaeology, University of North Carolina.
ABSTRACT: Since 2001, students and staff from the University of North Carolina’s Research Laboratories of Archaeology have undertaken research into the origins of the modern Catawba Nation, combining archaeological and historical information to gain a better understanding of the processes that brought about the transition from a culturally diverse, multi-ethnic community in the early to mid-18th century to a largely unified nation by the beginning of the 19th century. This transition involved strategic decision-making by Catawbas as they confronted dramatic demographic changes and population loss, shifts in community structure, realignment of political and military alliances, an evolving economic base, and the pressures of Euroamerican encroachment. The material record relevant to this research lies largely within York and Lancaster counties, South Carolina, and over the past decade six sites have been investigated through archaeological excavation. These include: Nassaw-Weyapee and Charraw Town, both located in the vicinity of Nation Ford and occupied during the 1750s; Old Town and Ayers Town, located several miles downriver and occupied during the late colonial and early federal periods; and New Town and the Bowers site, the last Catawba communities situated along the east side of Catawba during the early 19th century. Investigations at each of these sites are briefly described and summarized.
2:45- 3:30 pm Panel discussion and questions. Led by Stephen Criswell
PANEL: Charlie Cobb, Rick Chacon, Brooke Bauer, Stephen Criswell.