Historical Archaeology

, Volume 52, Issue 1, pp 12–29 | Cite as

Markers of Difference or Makers of Difference? Atypical Practices at Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Satellite Sites, ca. 1650–1700

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Abstract

This article examines social pluralism within politically autonomous 17th-century Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) communities. Haudenosaunee groups are known to have incorporated significant numbers of outsiders by processes of individual and group adoption. This article assesses the dynamics of social difference by looking at atypical practices in satellite communities in Seneca, Cayuga, and Mohawk territories. While previous scholars equated such practices with the presence of outsiders, atypical practices and the identities and labor relations associated with them are worth considering in a more fluid sense. Who would have continued, discontinued, or adopted practices that stood out from those of the majority? What sort of social roles or inequities went along with these sorts of distinctions? Documentary and archaeological data from these satellite communities suggest that social difference was pronounced in mortuary ritual, but muted in domestic settings, and that these differences were unlikely to reflect substantial social inequality.

Keywords

Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) pluralism incorporation satellite communities 17th century indigenous sites identity politicsᅟ 

Extracto

El presente artículo examina el pluralismo social dentro de las comunidades autónomas Haudenosaunee (Iroquesas) del siglo XVII. Los grupos Haudenosaunee son conocidos por haber incorporado niveles significativos de forasteros mediante procesos de adopción individuales y de grupo. El presente artículo evalúa la dinámica de la diferencia social examinando prácticas atípicas en comunidades satélite en los territorios de Seneca, Cayuga y Mohawk. Aunque estudiosos previos equipararon dichas prácticas a la presencia de forasteros, vale la pena considerar las prácticas atípicas y las identidades y las relaciones de la mano de obra asociadas a los mismos en un sentido más fluido. ¿Quiénes habrían continuado, discontinuado o adoptado prácticas que destacasen de las de la mayoría? ¿Qué tipo de papeles o desigualdades sociales iban con estos tipos de distinciones? Los datos documentales y arqueológicos de estas comunidades satélites sugieren que la diferencia social se pronunciaba en los rituales mortuorios, pero se enmudecía en escenarios domésticos, y que estas diferencias no era probable que reflejasen una desigualdad social sustancial.

Résumé

Cet article examine le pluralisme social au sein des communautés Haudenosaunee (Iroquois), autonomes sur le plan politique, du 17e siècle. Les groupes Haudenosaunee sont connus pour avoir intégré un nombre important d’étrangers par des processus d’adoption individuelle et collective. Cet article évalue la dynamique de la différence sociale en examinant les pratiques atypiques dans les communautés voisines des territoires Seneca, Cayuga et Mohawk. Tandis que les chercheurs précédents ont assimilé ces pratiques à la présence d’étrangers, il convient de considérer les pratiques atypiques, les identités et les relations de travail qui leur sont associés dans un sens plus souple. Qui aurait continué, abandonné ou adopté des pratiques qui se démarquaient de celles de la majorité ? Quels types de rôles sociaux ou d’inégalités ont accompagné ces types de distinctions ? Les données documentaires et archéologiques de ces communautés voisines suggèrent que la différence sociale a été prononcée dans le rituel mortuaire, mais silencieuse dans les foyers, et que ces différences ne reflètent probablement pas une inégalité sociale substantielle.

Notes

Acknowledgments:

I thank Bradley Phillippi and Christopher Matthews for their organization and guidance of this thematic issue. Initial versions of this paper were presented at the 2013 Theoretical Archaeology Group Conference in Chicago, Illinois, and the 2014 annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology in Quebec City, Quebec. Brian Crane, Peregrine Gerard-Little, Russell Handsman, Karen Hutchins-Keim, Mima Kapches, Stephen Mrozowski, Jon Parmenter, Bradley Phillippi, Samantha Sanft, David Schoenbrun, Martha Sempowski, Stephen Silliman, and an anonymous reviewer provided comments and suggestions that greatly helped this paper. Robert Kuhn and Kimberly Williams-Shuker generously agreed to share images from their work. All mistakes and inadequacies remain my own.

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Copyright information

© Society for Historical Archaeology 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anthropology and American Indian and Indigenous Studies ProgramCornell UniversityIthacaU.S.A.

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