Indigenous Life around the Great Lakes
War, Climate, and Culture
302 pages, 6.00 x 9.00
Paperback | 9780268108182 | September 2020
Hardcover | 9780268108175 | September 2020
eBook (Web PDF) | 9780268108205 | September 2020
eBook (EPUB) | 9780268108199 | September 2020
Enormous changes affected the inhabitants of the Eastern Woodlands area during the eleventh through fifteenth centuries AD. At this time many groups across this area (known collectively to archaeologists as Oneota) were aggregating and adopting new forms of material culture and food technology. This same period also witnessed an increase in intergroup violence, as well as a rise in climatic volatility with the onset of the Little Ice Age. In Indigenous Life around the Great Lakes, Richard W. Edwards explores how the inhabitants of the western Great Lakes region responded to the challenges of climate change, social change, and the increasingly violent physical landscape. As a case study, Edwards focuses on a group living in the Koshkonong Locality in what is now southeastern Wisconsin. Edwards contextualizes Koshkonong within the larger Oneota framework and in relation to the other groups living in the western Great Lakes and surrounding regions. Making use of a canine surrogacy approach, which avoids the destruction of human remains, Edwards analyzes the nature of groups’ subsistence systems, the role of agriculture, and the risk-management strategies that were developed to face the challenges of their day. Based on this analysis, Edwards proposes how the inhabitants of this region organized themselves and how they interacted with neighboring groups. Edwards ultimately shows how the Oneota groups were far more agricultural than previously thought and also demonstrates how the maize agriculture of these groups was related to the structure of their societies.
In bringing together multiple lines of archaeological evidence into a unique synthesis, Indigenous Life around the Great Lakes is an innovative book that will appeal to archaeologists who study the Midwest and surrounding regions, and it will also appeal to those who research risk management, agriculture, and the development of hierarchical societies more generally.
Richard W. Edwards IV is a principal investigator for Commonwealth Heritage Group and an honorary fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Department of Anthropology.
“Using a suite of analytical approaches, Richard Edwards’s Indigenous Life around the Great Lakes tackles many of the notions that have grown around the perceived cultural differences in cultural distinction distributed up and down the Mississippi river basin. He has drawn on an impressive array of data and research to support his arguments.” —James A. Brown, co-author of Cahokia
"For the general archaeological community Edwards's demonstration that agriculture was organized among the Oneota without accompanying social complexity and hierarchy should serve as a wakeup call for all to carefully examine long-held assumptions. This is a valuable study for its methods, its comparative analysis, and its conclusions about agriculture and cultural complexity." —Choice
"While Edwards’s focus looks back to a long tradition of midwestern environmental studies, his scientific rigor and comprehensive investigations mark the way forward for such research. Edwards’s Indigenous Lives sets the bar high for the new Midwest Archaeological Perspectives series." —Michigan Historical Review
"Edwards's work, specifically relating to Koshkonong reliance on agriculture along with constrained mobility, is groundbreaking, and it represents an important shift from generalized Oneota paradigms with assumptions of broad diet breadth and increased logistical mobility." —American Antiquity