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Archaeology: RI Native American Archaeology Bibliography

The following is taken from Native American Archaeology in Rhode Island, published by the RIHPHC in 2002 and available for purchase through the Commission. The sections in the bibliography correspond to chapters in the book and provide a brief discussion of some of the more accessible written sources covering a variety of historical, archaeological, and methodological topics.

Public archaeology has created a large body of unpublished reports, most of which are not available in public libraries. These reports have a limited circulation out of a concern for protecting the locations of archaeological sites from those who would damage them. Some of the more important of these reports are included. For the most part, however, we have listed published books and articles that are available in many public and university libraries.


The best summary of southern New England Indian archaeology is Dena F. Dincauze's "A Capsule Prehistory of Southern New England," in The Pequots in Southern New England, Laurence M. Hauptman and James D. Wherry, editors, University of Oklahoma Press (1990). The Narragansett, by William F. Simmons, Chelsea House (1989) and The Wampanoag, by Laurie Weinstein, Chelsea House (1989) deal primarily with the years after European contact but contain brief overviews of earlier periods.


For a discussion of the geology of the early post-glacial period see an essay by Denise C. Gaudreau, "The Distribution of Late Quaternary Forest Regions in the Northeast: Pollen Data, Physiography, and the Prehistoric Record," in Holocene Ecology in Northeastern North America, George P. Nicholas, editor, Plenum Press (1988).

The arrival of people in North American is a subject of much controversy among archaeologists as well as between Native Americans and archaeologists. An article in the October 1997 issue of National Geographic by Rick Gore, "The Most Ancient Americans," provides a concise account of the discussion among archaeologists. See Native North America by Larry J. Zimmerman, Little Brown and Company (1996) for a balanced discussion of the archaeological evidence and the idea held by many Native Americans that they did not emigrate from Asia, but rather have been here since the beginning of time. For a Native American perspective see Vine Deloria, God is Red, a Native View of Religion, North American Press (1992). Information from Rhode Island archaeology is presented in Alan Leveillee's Archaeology at the Hoskins Park and South Wind Sites, North Kingstown, Rhode Island, Educational Department Occasional Publications, The Public Archaeology Laboratory, Inc., Pawtucket (1991).

PEOPLE SETTLE IN TO STAY, ca. 8,000 to 3,000 B.P.

A concise discussion of rising sea levels and the formation of Narragansett Bay, based on the work of Dr. Robert L. McMaster, professor of oceanography at the University of Rhode Island, is presented in "A 9,000 Year View of Narragansett Bay" in the February, 1983 issue of Maritimes, published by the Graduate School of Oceanography of the University of Rhode Island. For a detailed report on the village site at Lake Assawompsett see Wampanucket: An Archaeological Report,by Maurice Robbins, Massachusetts Archaeological Society (1980). An excellent discussion of the Indian use of soapstone at sites in Rhode Island and the northeast is presented in an essay by William A. Turnbaugh, Sarah P. Turnbaugh, and Thomas H. Keifer, "Characterization of Selected Soapstone Sources in Southern New England," in Prehistoric Quarries and Lithic Production, J. Ericson and B. Purdy, editors, Cambridge University Press (1984). For a discussion of the cremation burials found on Conanicut Island, see William S. Simmons, Cauntantowwit's House: An Indian Burial Ground on the Island of Conanicut in Narragansett Bay, Brown University Press (1970). Two unpublished reports contain information on the Joyner site: The Joyner Site: Late Archaic-Early Woodland Adaptations and Cultural Dynamics in Conanicut Island, Rhode Island, by Robert G. Kingsley and Billy R. Roulette, Jr., John Milner Associates (1990) and A History Written in Stone: Six Thousand Years of Native American

Land Use in the Narragansett Bay Region, by Alan Leveillee, Public Archaeology Laboratory (1999). Both reports were prepared for the Rhode Island Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration and are on file at RIDOT and the RIHPHC.


The intensification of food gathering and the growth in population is discussed in David J. Bernstein, Prehistoric Subsistence on the Southern New England Coast, Academic Press (1993). Bernstein uses archaeological evidence from Greenwich Cove. See also Paul A. Robinson, "A Narragansett History form 1000 B.P. to the Present," in Enduring Traditions: The Native Peoples of New England, edited by Laurie Weinstein, Bergen & Garvey (1994). The magnificent effort of volunteers and others in excavating the Lambert Farm site before it was destroyed by development is presented in Jordan E. Kerber's Lambert Farm: Public Archaeology and Canine Burials Along Narragansett Bay, Harcourt Brace & Company (1997). Dr. Kerber directed the project with Alan Leveillee at the Public Archaeology Laboratory. See also Alan Leveillee, "Eastern Woodland Mortuary Practices as Reflected in Canine Burials at the Lambert Farm Site, Warwick, Rhode Island," in Bulletin of the Massachusetts Archaeological Society, Volume 54 (1993). One of the oldest permanent, year-round Indian villages in New England was on Block Island. The work of Dr. Kevin McBride in documenting this site is presented in an article by Carol Jaworksi,"2,500 Year Old Village Predates Agriculture" in Nor'easter, volume 2 (2):32-37 (1990). The use of local lithics is discussed by Alan E. Strauss in "Narragansett Basin Argillite: Lithology, Chronology, and Prehistoric Tool Manufacture," North American Archaeologist, Volume 10 (1989).

Several exemplary unpublished reports were used to write the text of this chapter: Russell Handsman's A Homelands Model and Interior Sites: A Phase II Archaeological Study of Rhode Island Site 2050, Phenix Avenue, Cranston, Rhode Island (1995); E. Pierre Morenon's Archaeological Sites at an Ecotone: Route 4 Extension, East Greenwich and North Kingstown, Rhode Island (1986); Alan Leveillee's Phenix Avenue Bridge Replacement, RI 2050 Locus 2: A Steatite Workshop in the Furnace Hill Archaeological District (1999). These reports were prepared for the Rhode Island Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration and are on file at the Department of Transportation and the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission. Of additional interest is a report by Janice Artemel and others, Providence Covelands Phase III Report (1984), prepared for the Federal Railroad Administration and the Federal Highway Administration, on file at the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & heritage Commission. A recent master's thesis by Joseph N. Waller, Jr., Late Woodland Settlement and Subsistence along the Point Judith Pond of Southern New England, University of Connecticut at Storrs (1998), suggests that maize agriculture had a prominent role in Indian society prior to the arrival of Europeans.


Kathleen J. Bragdon's Native People of Southern New England, 1500-1650, University of Oklahoma Press (1996) provides an excellent description of the social, economic, and political circumstances of contact between Europeans and Native people. Robert S. Grumet's Historic Contact: Indian People and Colonists in Today's Northeastern United States in the Sixteenth Through Eighteenth Centuries, University of Oklahoma Press (1995) is a comprehensive treatment of the period that includes references for much of the unpublished literature. See also Simmons (1989) and Weinstein (1989).

Two excellent histories of the period are Neal Salisbury's Manitou and Providence: Indians, Europeans, and the Making of New England, 1500-1634, Oxford University Press (1982) and William Cronon's Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England, Hill and Wang (1983). Cronon provides a particularly informative account of the ecological changes brought by European settlement. An insightful and well- illustrated discussion of warfare is found in Patrick M. Malone, The Skulking Way of War: Technology and Tactics among the New England Indians, Madison Books (1991).

Many primary accounts written by Europeans are available. For Rhode Island, the most important and informative on Indian life are the writings and letters of Roger Williams. A Key into the Language of America, The Roger Williams Press, (1936 [1643]) contains descriptions of many aspects of Narragansett Indian life; Williams's letters contained in Glenn W. Lafantasie's The Correspondence of Roger Williams, University Press of New England (1988) with Mr. Lafantasie's very fine notes on Indian matters, is indispensable.

A discussion of the wampum trade and its importance in the colonial and Indian economies is found in Paul A. Robinson, "The Wampum Trade in 17th-century Narragansett Country," in What a Difference a Bay Makes, Albert T. Klyberg, Margaret Shea, and Deborah B. Brennan, editors, Rhode Island Historical Society and Rhode Island Department of Library Services (1993). The Fort Island site is discussed in Kevin A. McBride, "The Source and Mother of the Fur Trade: Native-Dutch Relations in Eastern New Netherland," in Weinstein (1994).

An overview of the RI 1000 Narragansett Indian burial ground project is presented in Paul A. Robinson, Marc A. Kelley and Patricia E. Rubertone, "Preliminary Biocultural Interpretations from a Seventeenth-Century Narragansett Indian Cemetery in Rhode Island," in William Fitzhugh, editor, Cultures in Contact: The European Impact on Native Cultural Institutions in Eastern North America, A.D. 1000-1800, Smithsonian Press (1985). More detail on specific aspects of the site is in William A. Turnbaugh, The Material Culture of RI 1000, a Mid-17th Century Burial Site in North Kingstown, University of Rhode Island (1984); Marc A. Kelley, "Ethnohistorical Accounts as a Method of Assessing Health, Disease, and Population Decline Among Native Americans," in Donald J. Ortner and Arthur C. Aufdeheide, editors, Human Paleopathology: Current Syntheses and Future Options, Smithsonian Press (1991); Patricia E. Rubertone, "Archaeology, Colonialism, and 17th-Century Native America: Towards an Alternative Interpretation," in R. Layton, editor, Conflict in the Archaeology of Living Traditions, Unwin Hyman (1989).

For a detailed description of Narragansett Country between 1524 and 1709 A.D. see Paul A. Robinson, The Struggle Within: The Indian Debate in Seventeenth-century Narragansett Country, Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Anthropology, Binghamton University (1990).

Patricia E. Rubertone provides an excellent discussion of the RI 1000 project and a critical evaluation of Roger Williams's Key to the Language in Grave Undertakings: An Archaeology of Roger Williams and the Narragansett Indians, Smithsonian Press, (2001).

LIFE IN AN OCCUPIED LAND, 1676 A.D. - present

Simmons (1989) and Weinstein (1989) provide overviews. See also William S. Simmons and Cheryl L. Simmons Old Light on Separate Ways: The Narragansett Diary of Joseph Fish, 1765-1776, University Press of New England (1982). An excellent account of the colonial period that combines oral and documentary history is Ruth Wallis Herndon and Ella Wilcox Sekatau, "The Right to a Name: The Narragansett People and the Rhode Island Officials in the Revolutionary Era," Ethnohistory Volume 44, Summer (1997).

Unpublished reports on the archaeology include Kevin A. McBride, Phase I and II Archaeological Surveys, Kingswood Subdivision, Charlestown, Rhode Island (1988) and Phase II Archaeological Investigations, Long Ridge Subdivision, Charlestown, Rhode Island (1990). These reports are on file at the RIHPHC.

For an historical and contemporary account of the treatment of Narragansett Indian burial areas in Jamestown see Paul A. Robinson, "One Island, Two Places: Archaeology, Memory and Meaning in a Rhode Island Town," in Interpretations of Native American Life: Material Contributions to Ethnohistory, pages398-411, Michael S. Nassaney and Eric S. Johnson, editors, University of Florida Press (2000).


The goals of scientific archaeology, career possibilities, and preservation issues are discussed in George E. Stuart and Francis P. McManamon Archaeology and You, Society for American Archaeology (1996). A variety of issues in the public archaeology including examples from southern New England and Rhode Island by George P. Nicholas, Robert G. Goodby, Paul A. Robinson, Francis P. McManamon, Leslie Shaw, David Poirier, Nicholas Bellantoni, Brona Simon, Duncan Ritchie, Paul Gardescu, and Curtiss Hoffman are presented in Jordan E. Kerber, editor Cultural Resource Management: Archaeological Research, Preservation Planning, and Public Education in the Northeastern United States, Bergin and Garvey (1994).

The public archaeology program in Rhode Island is described in Paul A. Robinson and Charlotte C. Taylor, "Heritage Management in Rhode Island: Working with Diverse Partners and Audiences," in Francis P. McManamon and Alf Hatton, editors, Cultural Resource Management in Contemporary Society: Perspectives on Managing and Presenting the Past, Routledge (2000).

E. Pierre Morenon's radiocarbon dating research is presented in an unpublished paper, "Was There a Cultural Revolution 900 Years Ago?: Exploring Issues in Rhode Island's Carbon 14 Record." The paper is available on request from Dr. Morenon at the Anthropology and Geography Department at Rhode Island College.