Recent radiocarbon redating of key sites and events in Huron-Wendat archaeology has shaken dominant accounts of early colonial history. This paper emphasizes the importance of storytelling in archaeology. I consider how refined date estimates for key Huron-Wendat archaeological sites have impacted understandings of conflict, confederacy-formation, and the reception (or not) of early European materials and persons. The paper highlights how this work affects processes of commemoration and collaboration, as well as the importance of shared authority and Huron-Wendat leadership in rewriting contact-era archaeological histories. This project has generated productive new directions for meaningful collaboration between archaeologists and Indigenous researchers and heritage managers.
Changing Times: Radiocarbon Dating and the Rewriting of Huron-Wendat Archaeological Histories
Jennifer Birch is associate professor of anthropology at the University of Georgia specializing in the archaeology of eastern North America. She holds PhD in anthropology from McMaster University (2010). Conceptually, her interests are underpinned by the desire to understand how the lived experiences of individuals and communities articulate with long-term, large-scale processes of social and cultural change. She has approached this question through reconstructing the dynamics associated with occupational histories, interaction networks, population movement, and the development of organizational complexity and diversity. She is the coauthor (with Ronald F. Williamson) of The Mantle Site: An Archaeological History of an Ancestral Wendat Community (2013), editor of From Prehistoric Villages to Cities: Settlement Aggregation and Community Integration (2013), and coeditor (with Victor D. Thompson) of The Archaeology of Villages in Eastern North America (2018).
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Jennifer Birch; Changing Times: Radiocarbon Dating and the Rewriting of Huron-Wendat Archaeological Histories. The Public Historian 1 November 2022; 44 (4): 18–35. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/tph.2022.44.4.18
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