Reconciling Tradition and Innovation: An Analysis of Indigenous Iron and Lead Use, Modification, and Remanufacture at the Onöndowa'ga:' (Seneca Iroquois) White Springs Archaeological Site, Circa 1688–1715

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This thesis analyzes 366 iron and lead artifacts from the Onöndowa'ga:' (Seneca Iroquois) White Springs archaeological site (c. 1688–1715) in conjunction with Hodinöhsö:ni' (Haudenosaunee/Iroquois) burial data and the ethnohistoric record. Artifacts were identified by consulting reference materials, visually comparing fragmentary artifacts to complete objects at the Rochester Museum and Science Center (RMSC), and taking digital radiographs of highly corroded objects. Thirty-one of these European trade items were modified into more “traditional” forms. This represents a unique opportunity to reconcile the seemingly contradictory concepts of tradition and innovation by applying a practice-based approach to the White Springs assemblage. White Springs artifacts are compared to iron and lead assemblages from earlier Hodinöhsö:ni' sites and to the subsequent Onöndowa'ga:' Townley-Read site (c. 1715–1754) in order to examine iron and lead use, modification, and remanufacture through time. The White Springs and Townley-Read assemblages contain higher quantities of nails and hardware, while assemblages from earlier sites are comprised of more tools, implements, and modified iron. Nail, iron, and lead densities were calculated for each spatial area of the White Springs site to identify the activities performed across different spaces. An examination of the iron and lead White Springs objects additionally provided evidence of Onöndowa'ga:' construction methods, warfare tactics, hunting practices, and lead smithing techniques. Ultimately, this thesis attempts to answer several related research questions, such as, why did the Onöndowa'ga:' modify iron and lead obtained from colonial traders? How were iron and lead objects repaired and remanufactured? How were iron and lead used? Did the use of iron and lead change warfare tactics and hunting practices? How were nails used in construction? Were European or Indigenous blacksmiths present at White Springs?

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97 pages


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Colonialism; Cultural Entanglement; Haudenosaunee; Iroquois; Object Modification; Tradition


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Jordan, Kurt Anders

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Gleach, Frederic Wright

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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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