Leaving the Longhouse: 17th century pollen evidence for Native American mobility and the seasonal round

Madeleine McLeester

Historically, mobility and the seasonal round are often referenced as a central characteristic of indigenous identity within the American Midwest.  Embedded within political negotiations throughout the colonial and post-colonial periods, the seasonal use of diverse resources is well established in the historical record; however, seasonal mobility has been problematic to investigate archaeologically because certain aspects of it are difficult to detect in the archaeological record.  In this paper, I investigate seasonal mobility during the protohistoric period, just prior to European contact, through pollen analysis of sediment from a 17th century agricultural village, Oak Forest.  In this study, pollen analysis provides a unique lens through which to capture protohistoric lifeways, and, in particular, demonstrates the seasonal actions of the site’s inhabitants, actions that are not visible with other methods.  This research suggests continuity with historical records in the seasonal, quotidian practices of a protohistoric community and the springtime procurement of firewood.