Animal as Social Actor: A Case Study of a Pre-Colonial Northern Tiwa Structure

Author(s): Melanie Cootsona

Year: 2018


This paper explores the role of animals as social actors, namely the way natural animal behaviors influence human religious settings. The paper focuses on the case study of a floor organization of a formally closed thirteenth century Northern Tiwa kiva in the Northern Rio Grande region of New Mexico. The worldview and beliefs of the Northern Tiwa were deeply shaped by the species and biomes with whom they co-habited. Through the synthesis of material data, ethnographic information and behavioral traits, we can begin to understand how the Northern Tiwa in the thirteenth century may have situated specific species within a landscape-based religion. The animal species highlighted within the case study of the kiva includes the North American porcupine, the American crow, the American bison, and four domesticated dog burials. This kiva at Pot Creek Pueblo (also known as T’aitöna) embodies a moment of heightened meaning, as it includes the floor burial of a young child (who likely suffered a traumatic death).

Cite this Record

Animal as Social Actor: A Case Study of a Pre-Colonial Northern Tiwa Structure. Melanie Cootsona. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 445012)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -124.365; min lat: 25.958 ; max long: -93.428; max lat: 41.902 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 20464