Applying Indigenous Frameworks for Archaeological Analysis and Interpretation

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 82nd Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC (2017)

Archaeologists often apply interpretative frameworks that they derive from Western disciplinary contexts, even towards sites that were created and organized within non-Western or Indigenous cultural contexts. In this session, we offer contributions that concern Indigenous frameworks––whether as theory, linguistic concepts, oral histories, organizational principles, and/or cognitive or ontological categories––that can be applied towards the analysis and interpretation of archaeological sites. This requires gauging how to configure Indigenous concepts with archaeological strategies and testing methodologies. Such approaches also may involve considering ways to articulate Indigenous frameworks within existing or broadly framed theories, in order to translate from local interpretations for greater import and applicability. Collaborative and community-oriented archaeologies have provided much groundwork for such approaches, yet some projects limit Indigenous collaboration towards its contemporary practice and contexts, and we seek to highlight avenues of analysis towards the archaeological record. Historically, archaeologists have often sought the theories of Western figures, whether the positivist scientists for processualists or the French poststructuralist theorists for postprocessualists. But, to evaluate the sites of Indigenous peoples, we will emphasize how the cultural ideas and traditions of Indigenous peoples can provide interpretive frameworks for analysis and interpretation to better understand archaeological histories.

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  • Documents (12)

  • Ancestral Landscapes of the Salish Sea: Exploring Inland Shell Middens, Social Memory and Coast Salish Narratives (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Eric McLay.

    This paper will explore indigenous and archaeological ways of understanding "inland shell middens" in the Salish Sea on the Northwest Coast, British Columbia, Canada. Archaeological evidence suggests inland shell middens represent depositional practices that may have embodied new strategies of social memory and ritual practice beginning in the Marpole Phase (2400 to 1200/1000 calBP). To move beyond the deeply-plumbed Northwest Coast ethnographic literature to interpret the archaeological past,...

  • Deep Impacts of Mohegan Archaeology: Indigenous Knowledge and its Influence on the Past (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Craig Cipolla. James Quinn. Jay Levy.

    There is no doubt that indigenous, collaborative, and community-based projects have made great strides in reshaping the ways in which archaeological research is conducted and carried out in North America. Comparatively speaking, however, reporting on collaborative projects often place less emphasis on the ways in which indigenous and hybridized versions of archaeology influence our interpretations of the past and penetrate archaeology at the level of theory. In this paper we attempt to fill this...

  • Houses, Territory, and Tenure: An Archaeological Case Study of Territoriality in the Salish Sea (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Chris Springer.

    The multi-family, above-ground, post-and-beam plankhouse looms large in our understanding of ancestral Coast Salish households that populated the coastal regions of southwestern British Columbia and northwestern Washington State. In addition to their practical role as shelters, plankhouses were both social fields of daily practice and ceremonialism, and imposing physical structures that communicated presence and the territorial and tenurial interests of the household. In this presentation, I...

  • Implementing Indigenous Frameworks towards the Archaeological Record: Issues, Instances, and Directions (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Bill Angelbeck. Chris Arnett.

    While archaeology concerns a Western-derived discipline, the scope of its perspective is broadening. Here, we highlight Indigenous frameworks for the analysis and interpretation of archaeological data wherever there is direct historical and cultural continuity of people and place. To this end, we attempt to map out the contours for analyses using models and theory derived from oral traditions, language, and other schema from indigenous sources to explain patterning of artifacts and features of...

  • Indigenous Method and Theory in Archaeology (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Paulette Steeves.

    Indigenous Archaeology has been described as archaeology with, for, and by Indigenous people. The differences between with and for, and by Indigenous people are critical to Indigenous people and society in general. Research framed in Indigenous method and theory is built within frames of respect, relationality, and reciprocity, it is praxis that weaves through institutional and public spaces to create social change. Such social change addresses the past real world consequences of colonial...

  • Interior Salish Organizational Principles: Recasting the Dynamics of Sociopolitical Change in Aggregated Village Archaeology on the Northern Plateau (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Lucille Harris.

    The Middle Fraser Canyon of south-central British Columbia is well-known for the large Late Prehistoric aggregated pithouse villages that line the terraces of the region’s major rivers and tributaries. These villages represent a dynamic period in the history of Northern Interior Salish societies. Our understanding of the cultural dynamics underlying the formation and breakup of these large villages has been limited by reliance on theories that are rooted in uniquely Western concepts of...

  • Materiality and Movement: Indigenous Concepts in Archaeological Analysis and Interpretation (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kerry Thompson.

    As investigations of cultures’ material pasts, archaeology’s units of analysis are tactile. The concepts we employ need material referents in order to be accessible to archaeological analysis and interpretation. To bring together the scientific method of archaeology with Indigenous frameworks, material referents of Indigenous concepts necessarily require theorizing the dynamic relationship between culture, time, and place in concert with Indigenous perspectives. In scaffolding theoretical...

  • Multi-vocal Landscapes: Mapping Mobile Ontologies onto the Northern Rio Grande (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Lindsay Montgomery.

    Forming a strategic corridor from the Southwest to the Plains, New Mexico’s northern frontier was an important site of cross-cultural interaction during the colonial period. It was on the fringes of the Spanish Empire that Hispano, Pueblo, Ute, Apache, and Comanche groups converged, generating new cultural identities and materials in the process. While archaeologists have long been interested in the particular ways in which Pueblo groups conceptualized and marked this region, the rich and...

  • Recognizing Indigenous Settlement Patterns: Results from Pimu (Catalina Island, CA) (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Desiree Martinez. Wendy Teeter. Karimah Kennedy-Richardson.

    For 10 years, the Pimu Catalina Island Archaeology Project (PCIAP) has worked with the Gabrielino (Tongva) community to create a research agenda that acknowledges the Tongva’s cultural knowledge of the environment. Based on an Indigenous archaeology approach, PCIAP’s work recognizes that previous interpretations of Island Tongva settlement patterns do not accurately reflect how the Island Tongva viewed themselves upon the landscape nor their relationships to the people and items around them ...

  • Socializing Novel Landscapes: Reconsidering "Colonization" through Indigenous Philosophies (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Matthew Sanger.

    Archaeologists have long been interested in studying how landmasses became "colonized." Using biological analogies, archaeologists often describe colonization as a process by which ecological niches become filled by human populations that evolve to best fit into their new environs. This paper suggests an alternative informed by Indigenous philosophies that describe a world filled with animate and powerful beings emplaced throughout the landscape. Forging relations with these beings is a critical...

  • Sociocultural Anthropology’s Engagement with Archeology and Indigenous Frameworks (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Bruce Miller.

    As archaeologists seek out new ways to engage with Indigenous frameworks, people and communities, sociocultural anthropology can engage and advance the conversation in several ways. Archaeologists and sociocultural anthropologists commonly work with the same communities, on the same issues, but on different time scales. Long term research with the Upper Skagit tribe of Washington State, undertaken collaboratively with archaeologists and community members, reveals sets of social tensions of...

  • A Squamish Nation/Coast Salish Sense of Time (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Rudy Reimer.

    The foundation of understanding time and the past lays in the realm of constructing cultural historical chronologies through the use of radiocarbon dating and the determination of temporally sensitive artifacts. Along the shores of the Salish Sea of the southern Northwest Coast of North America the long established cultural historical sequence has been questioned and critiqued for its utility in modern day archaeological frameworks. Yet, the foundation of many regional interpretations regarding...