VARIATION OF NATIVE AMERICAN CERAMICS IN THE BIG BEND REGION OF THE LOWER OCMULGEE RIVER VALLEY, GEORGIA, AD 1540 TO AD 1715
Author(s)Hensler, Rachel Paige
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AbstractStudies of European colonialism in the Western Hemisphere have shifted focus from areas of direct European/Native American contact, to investigate Native American groups outside of direct European contact. During Spanish colonization of the Southeastern United States (AD 1520 to AD 1715), the Big Bend region of the Ocmulgee River Valley, in Georgia, located about 160 kilometers from Spanish occupied coast, was inhabited by a Native American polity from the Late Prehistoric into the Mission period. This location is ideal for studying indirect contact. Changes in ceramic production can be used to identify changes in Native American interaction through time. Attributes from ceramics at five sites were recorded, totaling 3,231 sherds. Analysis demonstrates that richness of paste recipes and presence of ceremonial vessels declined, suggesting that regional gatherings declined. Design analysis suggests that interaction with a large variety of Native American groups from outside of the region declined, while interaction with coastal Native American groups in the purview of Spanish colonization increased. This demonstrates that changes to Native American society after European contact were not just the result of interaction with European traditions and technologies, but also the result of changing interaction with Native American groups.