Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Historical Archaeology

First Advisor

Stephen W. Silliman

Second Advisor

Judith F. Zeitlin

Third Advisor

Kevin McBride


Stone walls, piles, and other architectural features are spread throughout the New England landscape, including the Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation reservation in North Stonington, Connecticut. When found associated with Native American land, these features have often been cited as European constructions that were eventually adopted by neighboring Native American communities as part of growing engagements with bounded landscapes, animal husbandry, intensified agriculture, and private property. To date, analyses of colonialism and its impacts on indigenous people have not focused on these stone features, in part due to their European origins and in part due to their difficulties in dating and interpreting. Yet, these comprise key elements of landscape use on Native American reservations in 17th- through 19th-century southern New England.

This thesis chronicles and interprets the ongoing collection of spatial and built environment data from multiple seasons of field work conducted on the Eastern Pequot reservation by University of Massachusetts Boston researchers. Data from electronic total station mapping of surface features, shovel test pit survey and excavation units that reveal artifact distributions in and around these features, and previous scholars' typologies of stone features are combined to address several dimensions of reservation life. This thesis uses these data to identify spatial relationships between houses and the built environment of the reservation landscape, to sequence as best as possible some of these landscape features with nearby households, and to offer preliminary interpretations of these various extant features of the reservation with respect to property, enclosure, and farming. The results suggest that the Eastern Pequot gradually incorporated these new stone construction practices. These material practices were not imported wholesale upon occupation of various house sites on the reservation. Instead, houses often preceded the creation of extensive stone pile and field wall systems, suggesting that the intensification of agriculture on the reservation may have post-dated the late 18th century for certain households, or more likely, took place after the middle 19th century when several houses in the center of the reservation were no longer occupied. Ultimately, this thesis demonstrates that the changes in the usage, organization, and construction of the landscape and architectural features of the Eastern Pequot reservation are the result of the active decision-making processes of Pequot people and must be accorded archaeological and historical attention.


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