DR. STEPHEN WALTER SILLIMAN, University of Massachusetts, Boston, Massachusetts, received a grant in October 2010, to aid research on 'Beyond Change and Continuity: Native American Community Persistence in Colonial New England.' Funding supported an archaeological project on the impacts of colonialism on Native American communities in southern New England, specifically the Eastern Pequot's reservation (established in 1683) in southeastern Connecticut. The project was oriented toward tackling a larger conceptual issue: the problem of discussing Native American societies in colonial periods as either changing or staying the same, rather than understanding how they did both (or neither) on trajectories of 'persistence.' The project had two goals: 1) to search for elusive 17th-century sites from the founding decades of the reservation; and 2) to excavate a newly identified late 18th-century household to understand variations during that period. Despite intensive searching with shovel test-pits in a never-before-tested section of the reservation, no sites sought in the first objective were located. The second objective was met with great success. A late 18th-century Eastern Pequot house site was located, mapped, and excavated, producing approximately 4,500 artifacts, 3,500 animal bones, and 14 kg of shellfish remains associated with what was once a wooden house with window glass, nailed frames, rock chimney, cellar, and trash pits. Its results have contributed significantly to the interpretation of Native American reservation history and cultural persistence in the face of economic, material, and political pressures.
Hunter, Ryan, Stephen W. Silliman, and David B. Landon. 2014. Shellfish Collection and Community Connections in Eighteenth-Century Native New England. American Antiquity 79(4):712-729.