Contact-Period Settlement Changes in Eastern North America: A Test of the Ideal Free and Ideal Despotic Distribution Models
Archaeological and historic data suggest that prior to European Contact, Eastern North America was heavily populated. However, within a century of Contact, the indigenous population was decimated. To explore one of many behavioral changes brought about by this demographic collapse, we model indigenous settlement in Eastern North America pre- and post-Contact as a function of environmental productivity. We hypothesize that if post-Contact settlement differed from pre-Contact, two scenarios are possible: settlement changes may conform to an ideal free distribution (IFD) if the average net primary productivity (NPP) of site locations improves post-Contact, or an ideal despotic distribution (IDD) if average site NPP declines. Using data from the Canadian Archaeological Radiocarbon Database, we find that overall, the NPP of the average site increases after Contact suggesting settlement according to an IFD at this time. Reductions in population allowed consolidation of people in higher quality habitats. However, geographically weighted regression indicates regional variability in this trend and possibly the opposite pattern, a decline in NPP conforming to an IDD, in some locations of Eastern North America. Therefore, while the overall trend is one of movement towards high-quality locations, Europeans appear to be forcing indigenous peoples into more marginal habitats in certain places.
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Contact-Period Settlement Changes in Eastern North America: A Test of the Ideal Free and Ideal Despotic Distribution Models. Elic Weitzel, Daniel Plekhov. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429060)
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min long: -80.815; min lat: 39.3 ; max long: -66.753; max lat: 47.398 ;
Abstract Id(s): 15241