Native Mortuary Customs and Knowledge Networks in 18th-Century Massachusetts

Author(s): Kathleen J. Bragdon

Year: 2013


This paper looks at wills written by and for Wampanoag people in their own language and in English and their relation to other native mortuary customs in the eighteenth century. I argue that while writing wills was an innovative practice adopted by Christian Indians and suggests a breakdown in native community structure in the eighteenth century, the practice was consistent with other evidence for strong community identification.  Knowledge of the "writing culture" of southern New England helped many  Wampanoag people living there to protect and reaffirm distinctive native ways of death. In deference to NAGPRA's regulations regarding the exhumation and study human remains and mortuary objects with native cultural affiliations, and in sympathy with tribal efforts to repatriate previously excavated remains and objects, this paper attempts to investigate the materialty of death and its implications for continuity and change in native communities in southern New England  through written sources alone.

Cite this Record

Native Mortuary Customs and Knowledge Networks in 18th-Century Massachusetts. Kathleen J. Bragdon. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Leicester, England, U.K. 2013 ( tDAR id: 428336)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 423