Bringing together the prespectives of archaeologists, ethno-historians and art historians, these tightly integrated case studies highlight the significance of material objects to the study and interpretation of Native North American culture, history and identity. The authors contend that archaeological remains and ethnograhic specimens can, and indeed should, be analyzed in tandem with other sources of historical data (e.g. written texts, oral accounts) to expand our understanding of Native culture change and continuity from the pre-columbian era through to the present. The essays in this collection begin with concrete, tangible expressions of Native American culture which, in most cases, were made and used to meet basic human needs or to participate in social and religious life. Material objects invite interdisciplinary study because they are a rich source of information about how human societies and social identities were created, reproduced and transformed. While this volume serves to complement and enhance our historical and cultural understanding of native peoples throughout North America, the theoretical approaches and research methodologies showcased here have implications for studies anywhere people left material traces of their activities, identities and lives.
Michael S. Nassaney, associate professor of anthropology at Western Michigan University, is the editor or coeditor of four books, including The Archaeological Northeast. Eric S. Johnson, a preservation planner at the Massachusetts Historical Commission, has written numerous articles and monographs on New England archaeology and ethnohistory.