Transformation and Persistence: The Nanticoke Indians and Chicone Indian Town in the Context of European Contact and Colonization

Busby, Virginia Roche, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia
Hantman, Jeffrey L., Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia
Laviolette, Adria, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia
Wagner, Roy, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia
Vaughan, Robert, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, University of Virginia

This dissertation explicates change and persistence of the Nanticoke Indians, a Chesapeake Indian group, from immediately prior to European contact through a protracted period of European colonization, A.D. 1000-1800. Over this period, the Nanticoke experienced dramatic shifts in social organization, economic practices, land and resource access, and demographic arrangement. Although the form and substance of their lives changed drastically, the Nanticoke maintained important land resources and an efficacious group identity for a significant period. This case study provides new perspectives on the Chesapeake region by studying an important native group located outside the suzerainty of the Powhatan paramount chiefdom and on the lesser studied, but strategically important, Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. The dissertation concentrates on transformations in four areas of Nanticoke existence: socio-political organization, economics, material existenceparticularly relationships with the land, and experiences of European contact and colonization. To elucidate these transformations I use both historical anthropological and archaeological analyses centering on the Nanticoke village of Chicone. Chicone served as the seat of Nanticoke leadership for the majority of the post-contact period. It became a colonial-era Indian reservation and it was one of the longest held portions of Nanticoke territory. From this reference point I study changes in life within this settlement and contextualize this village within the larger changes in Nanticoke existence. The dissolution of the reservation in the late eighteenth century marks significant shifts in xi Indian life and serves as the ending point of this study. This analysis contributes to a broader understanding of the dynamic post-Contact period in the Chesapeake and the variety in trajectories of Indian life before, during, and beyond the years of first European settlement.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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