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International Journal of Historical Archaeology

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 828–849 | Cite as

When Data Speak Back: Resolving Source Conflict in Apache Residential and Fire-Making Behavior

  • Deni J. SeymourEmail author
Article

Abstract

Contradictions exist among primary sources as to the locations of historical Chiricahua and Mescalero Apache encampments. Modern elders state that residential sites were situated in low settings at the base of elevated landforms, whereas textual sources and archaeology suggest otherwise for much of the historic period and before. This contradiction is resolved when it is realized that Chiricahua cultural-specialist knowledge relating to key aspects of landscape use pertains to the last 25 years before Geronimo’s final surrender and removal to the east. This was a time of substantial and increased pressure from the American military using more effective tactics following the Civil War. These tactics included cooperation with Mexico, use of Apache scouts, deeper penetration of the mountains, and more persistent pursuit. Land claims interviews of Chiricahua informants from the 1950s mention this shift from high to low and the reason for it. This case study illustrates the importance of (a) seriating source material rather than assuming long-term continuity, (b) subjecting all sources, including elder knowledge, to standard forms of criticism, and (c) analyzing differences between informant factions.

Keywords

Traditional knowledge Landscape use Seriating sources Source criticism Factions 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The title of this paper incorporates a comment by Michael Wilcox (2010, p. 224), that “artifacts, features, and human remains do not “speak back” in the same way that ethnographic subjects do.” I would like to thank a number of people for providing comments on various drafts of this paper, including Jeff Boyer, Mark E. Harlan, David V. Hill, Styve Homnick, Rosalind Hunter-Anderson, Robert McGhee, Alison E. Rautman, Michael B. Schiffer, and various anonymous reviewers. I alone am responsible for its content.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jornada Research InstituteAlbuquerqueUSA

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