Into the Deep: Montaukett whaling in the 18th and 19th centuries

Author(s): Allison Manfra McGovern

Year: 2014


Historians agree that Native American whalemen from New England were sought for employment in whaling, but disagreement remains on the social and economic impact that whaling had on indigenous lifeways. Debt, coercion, and indentured servitude were frequent conditions of indigenous whaling, but the social and economic opportunities that whaling offered to Native Americans were recognized early on and motivated many men to participate voluntarily. The diversity of indigenous experiences is a reflection of the long history and evolving conditions of the whaling industry. This paper, which is intended to contribute to the range of experiences, considers the worldly adventures of Montaukett whalemen from eastern Long Island as a case-study for the material conditions of indigenous whaling in southern New England. Household economics, debt, and the impacts of whaling on Montaukett households in the 18th and 19th centuries are explored through analysis of household remains from the Indian Fields site in Montauk, New York.

Cite this Record

Into the Deep: Montaukett whaling in the 18th and 19th centuries. Allison Manfra McGovern. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 436670)

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-11,02