Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Historical Archaeology

First Advisor

Stephen Silliman

Second Advisor

David Landon

Third Advisor

Stephen Mrozowski


By the mid-eighteenth century, members of the Eastern Pequot community in southeastern Connecticut had been living on their reservation, approximately 5 miles from the coast, for several generations. During the period leading up to and following the establishment of this reservation in 1683, the Eastern Pequot community lived enmeshed in colonial processes. Colonial and reservation policies placed certain pressures on the Eastern Pequot community, forcing individuals to adapt to changing and often challenging circumstances. Despite this, people found ways to endure and adapt, sometimes by adopting new practices, and at other times by preserving others. One such practice that shows remarkable continuity is shellfish collection and consumption. Through the shellfish remains recovered during archaeological investigation on the reservation, I explore the role that shellfish gathering played in subsistence and how it provided more than a mere food source. As a resource with a long history of use by Native communities in southern New England, continued consumption of shellfish provided a valuable tie to the past and reinforced social networks in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Off-reservation Native communities provide a potential link between inland reservations and culturally valuable resources, while collecting shellfish served as an opportunity to strengthen off-reservation social ties and to remain connected to longstanding food resources. Moreover, links between women and shellfish gathering provide insight into how gender imbalances of reservation populations influenced visible activities as well as offering suggestions for how certain practices changed or stayed the same.


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