Community, Cuisine, and Cahokian Contact: Changes in Mississippian Plant Foodways in the Central Illinois River Valley

Date and Time: 
Friday, 13 April 2012 - 5:40pm to 6:00pm
Author(s): 
Bardolph, Dana - University of California, Santa Barbara

This paper considers changes in the social relations of farming at a rural site in the Central Illinois River Valley in the context of culture contact between ancient Cahokians and local Late Woodland populations. The Illinois Valley was the setting for significant cultural change in the early Eveland phase (AD 1100-1150) as a result of the northward expansion of Mississippian peoples, ideas, and traditions. Through an analysis of archaeobotanical remains from the Lamb site, I examine the ways in which specific conservations or innovations in the food system of a community may be related to individual identity, group definition and solidarity, and hierarchical position. This study documents intensified maize farming in the region both temporally and spatially, and explores this phenomenon not simply as a changing subsistence strategy but as a set of social relations, which were deeply entwined with social, economic, and political motivations.