Lost Narratives: Current Historical Archaeology in Southern California

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

One of the most powerful roles of historical archaeology in the modern era is the telling of histories that have been overlooked. These "lost narratives" represent society as a far more complex entity than that encoded in national/regional ideology. This is particularly true in southern California where mainstream perspectives on history are distinctively simplistic. Until relatively recently, historical archaeology in the region was also comparatively traditional, focused on colonial-era missions or narrow slices of historic contexts exposed by modern construction. Recent projects, however, delve more deeply into the complexity of southern California, emphasizing questions of memory, consumption, identity, conflict, political economy, and the sheer intricacy of the communities that have coexisted in the region over time. Papers in this session represent time periods from the late eighteenth century through the 1940s. Documentary analysis combines with diverse archaeological methodology to maximize new interpretive opportunities and creative applications of theory. Engagement with descendant communities and the use of legacy collections enrich these projects and highlight fruitful directions for future scholarship.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-7 of 7)

  • Documents (7)

  • Chinigchinich Ritual Practice among the Tongva: Exploring Patterns of Colonial Consumption and Revitalization (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Elisabeth Rareshide.

    The Mission Period in Alta California (AD 1769-1834) radically changed the lives of indigenous people such as the Tongva. The strict discipline of the Franciscans’ enculturation program in the missions contrasted with the relative autonomy of Tongva people on San Clemente Island. Evidence of ritual practice of the Chinigchinich religion at sites such as Lemon Tank on San Clemente Island suggests continuity in Tongva ritual practice into the Mission Period. At the same time, Spanish missionaries...

  • Commemoration in the Wake of Catastrophe: A Historical Archaeology Investigation of Southern California's St. Francis Dam Disaster and its Victims (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ann Stansell.

    The commemoration of disasters and their victims is a product of cultural, economic, political, and social forces in human society. Southern California's largely forgotten St. Francis Dam Disaster of 1928 provides an excellent opportunity to study this complex process of commemoration, engaging memory within different frames of reference. Previous scholarship related to the disaster has been focused within the fields of civil engineering and geology, with the singular goal of determining the...

  • Consumption Patterns of a Pre-World War II-Era Japanese American Community on Terminal Island (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Erica Nicolay.

    Transmigration and diaspora are topics which archaeologists have recently begun contributing to in more detail (Lilley 2004, Ross 2010; Ross 2011). These concepts assert the fact that cultural interchange exists when immigrant or migrant communities settle in new lands, and rejects the idea of homogenization, accultraltion, or complete resistance and can be addressed in archaeology via consumption. Consumption patterns, though seemingly unimportatnt, have the ability to shed light on almost...

  • Engaging the History of the San Fernando Valley: Collections and "Synergy" at CSUN (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Diana Diaz.

    Perceptions of southern California’s San Fernando Valley have long pertained to its relationship to adjacent Los Angeles, with the region over time characterized as either agricultural hinterland or faceless suburbia. Such stereotypes overlook the numerous historical associations and resources of the region, in the process subverting the identities and "communitas" of valley residents. In 2016 courses taught in the Department of Anthropology at California State University-Northridge (CSUN) have...

  • Reassembling Black Star Canyon (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Nathan Acebo.

    The Santa Ana mountain landscape of contemporary Orange County, California, has been dichotomously characterized as "a wild frontier" and "a tamed indigenous space" where the material and social histories of indigenous communities are downplayed and legacies of Spanish, Mexican and American colonial society are both solidified and continued. Within this landscape, the Black Star Canyon Village site (CA-ORA-132) objectifies this binary historicity as the site constitutes a prehistoric/historic...

  • Water Wars: The St. Francis Dam Disaster and Resource Competition in the American West (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only James Snead. Ann Stansell.

    Euro-American experience in the western states has been profoundly shaped by the fight for resources, among which water ranks extremely high. Traditional histories of such struggles focus on policy, macroeconomics, and large-scale social transformation. Historical archaeology, in contrast, offers the opportunity to emphasize the quotidian manifestations of these conflicts, particularly as they shaped the lives (and deaths) of local residents. Current fieldwork conducted by California State...

  • When Smuggling Sailors met the First Angelinos: Material Messages from Forgotten Santa Catalina Island, California (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Austin Ringelstein.

    A colonial archaeological assemblage from Santa Catalina Island, California contains both "traditional" native materials and substantial Euro-American trade goods. Archival sources and artifacts suggest that the native islanders, known as the Pimu Tongva people, opportunistically acquired trade goods from Euro-American seafarers for close to 300 years. Although the bulk of the trade items appear to be European in origin, recent insight suggests that some of the materials have associations with...