Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Historical Archaeology

First Advisor

Stephen W. Silliman

Second Advisor

Stephen A. Mrozowski

Third Advisor

Matthew J. Liebmann


Native American populations, especially those living on colonially created and governed reservations, such as the Eastern Pequot, contended with settler and colonial policies and practices on a daily basis in the 18th and 19th centuries, long after "contact." Using the colonial environment and the inherently spatial restrictions of the Eastern Pequot reservation as frameworks, this thesis addresses the daily aspects of Eastern Pequot families living and working within their household spaces during a tumultuous time in the colonial period. This research is theoretically grounded in broader themes regarding the household, conceived of as a space within which social agents create and reproduce social identities, relationships, and meanings. Within the context of the household, archaeology can be utilized to explore how social processes are lived out not only through the material world but also in architecture and refuse patterns at a local scale.

Analysis of three house sites on the Eastern Pequot reservation, spanning from the mid-18th century to the mid-19th century, highlights how changing use of space reflected larger settler-colonial pressures and influences, as well as how organization and use of space in turn shaped native life during the reservation period. A detailed look at the structure of each house, the location and use of subfloor and hearth features within and around each house, the presence of specific artifact classes at each house, and the general distribution of material remains across the space at each site provides insight into daily practices within Eastern Pequot families at different times during reservation history. Although the Eastern Pequot community in the 18th and 19th centuries lived within the confines of a colonial reservation, residents were able to exercise their own power in determining the location, form, style, and organization of their houses and household space. Certain architectural and organizational changes were likely both concomitant with and resultant from broader changes in land base, reservation population, and subsistence practices. Although architecture and material culture may exhibit a steady increase in European-American materials and influences throughout 18th and 19th centuries, the structure and spatial patterning at native domestic sites retain consistent Pequot characteristics.


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