Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Historical Archaeology

First Advisor

Stephen W. Silliman

Second Advisor

David B. Landon

Third Advisor

Heather B. Trigg


The processes of colonialism involve the selective adoption of the foreign along with the recasting of the traditional. Native American participation in these processes is popularly downplayed in recounts of colonial pasts, portraying Native American peoples as docile and malleable - unable to resist assimilation into the “dominant” European colonist-culture. In 17th-century Connecticut, European colonists officially declared Pequot peoples extinct with the Treaty of Hartford after murdering and selling the majority of Pequots into slavery. Despite this, Pequot peoples persevered and returned to their homelands, forcing colonists to “give” them reservation lands in the mid- to late-17th century. The Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation reservation was officially established in North Stonington Connecticut in 1783. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Euroamerican encroachers began to call Eastern Pequot authenticity into question in attempts to appropriate tribal lands for pastureland and colonial development. The archaeological record from this time period speaks to Eastern Pequot identity and habitus and paints a picture of Eastern Pequot peoples as agents of change, constantly negotiating their places within colonial structures. This work adheres to a model of colonialism that is more complex than accultuationist perspectives that simplify colonialism as a mono-directional process with the “dominant culture” infusing into and over the “passive”, leaving no traces of the latter.

Zooarchaeological analyses of two household assemblages on the Eastern Pequot reservation open windows into the everyday lives of Eastern Pequot peoples living on the reservation in the early 19th century. The faunal remains attest to the hardships of reservation life and the maintenance of an Eastern Pequot ethnic identity. Meat sources were processed intensively and shared between household groups. Furthermore, traditional practices such as non-metal tool use and bone smashing tied 19th-century Eastern Pequot peoples to their common pasts and, in turn, to each other. By adhering as a community and maintaining ties to their pasts while at the same time changing with the times, Eastern Pequot agents actively negotiated their places within the political and social climate of 19th-century Connecticut.


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