This volume investigates the use of deer, deerskins, and nonlocal goods in the period from A.D. 1400 to 1700 to gain a comprehensive understanding of historic-era cultural changes taking place within Native American communities in the southern Appalachian Highlands. In the 1600s, hunting deer to obtain hides for commercial trade evolved into a substantial economic enterprise for many Native Americans in the Middle Atlantic and Southeast. An overseas market demand for animal hides and furs imported from the Americas, combined with the desire of infant New World colonies to find profitable export commodities, provided a new market for processed deerskins as well as new sources of valued nonlocal goods. This new trade in deerskins created a reorganization of the priorities of native hunters that initiated changes in native trade networks, political alliances, gender relations, and cultural belief systems. Through research on faunal remains and mortuary assemblages, Lapham tracks both the products Native Americans produced for colonial trade - deerskins and other furs - as well as those items received in exchange - European and native prestige goods that end up in burial contexts.
Zooarchaeological analyses provide insights into subsistence practices, deer-hunting strategies, and deer-hide production activities, while an examination of mortuary practices contributes information on the use of the nonlocal goods acquired through trade in deerskins. This study reveals changes in economic organization and mortuary practices that provide new insights into how participation in the colonial deerskin trade initially altered Native American social relations and political systems.