"Binding the People Together:" Onöndowa'ga:' (Seneca) Glass Beads, Aesthetics, and Economy, 1670-1754

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Analyses of glass beads from Indigenous North American archaeological sites often focus on typological identification, relative dating, and identifying European manufacturers. These approaches are helpful for understanding site chronologies and mapping trade relationships, but they can center accounts of European influence, minimize discussion of Indigenous perspectives, and foster a narrative of Indigenous decline. Rather than focusing only on chronological change and continuity across these sites, to counter these narratives I integrate Hodinöhsö:ni' (Iroquois) color symbolism into a broader framework of aesthetics to examine glass bead colors, shapes, sizes, manufacturing methods, and depositional contexts in the Onöndowa'ga:' (Seneca) Ganondagan-White Springs-Townley Read site sequence, ca 1670-1754 CE. I find that the presence of “European” material culture like glass beads on Seneca sites is not emblematic of decline or acculturation; rather, it demonstrates the dynamism of Seneca aesthetic, social, political, and economic choices that were woven into everyday life. Since the same Seneca community presumably lived at these three sites, this analysis has implications for studying generational trends in Seneca bead use during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. I compare Seneca glass bead color and shape patterns with those of contemporaneous Five Nations using previously published datasets to identify regional and temporal patterns across the Hodinöhsö:ni' Confederacy, which illuminates regional dynamics of supply and demand. This multi-pronged, holistic approach is also used to investigate glass bead depositional contexts in the Ganondagan-White Springs-Townley Read site sequence, which can help answer questions about the activities and daily lives of the people who lived in these towns. This thesis draws attention to Hodinöhsö:ni' economic and aesthetic motivations for wearing and exchanging glass beads during the fur trade.
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142 pages
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aesthetics; glass beads; Haudenosaunee; Hodinöhsö:ni'; Iroquois; Seneca
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Jordan, Kurt Anders
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Baugher, Sherene Barbara
Rickard, Jolene K.
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M.A., Archaeology
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Master of Arts
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Government Document
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Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International
dissertation or thesis
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