Jennifer BIRCH

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During the late 15th and early 16th centuries AD, the Iroquoian societies of northeastern North America experienced widespread conflict and the coalescence of small village-communities into densely populated settlements. Regionally, these processes resulted in realignment of the geopolitical landscape and the emergence of distinct nations. To assess how coalescence unfolded at the household level, insights from one well-studied ancestral Wendat community relocation sequence will be presented. These data are interrogated within a multi-scalar analytical and theoretical framework which places the community at the center of processes of cultural change. The reconfiguration of domestic space, palisades, middens, and activity areas, together with their associated material culture suggest that coalescence resulted in the development of a significant degree of organizational complexity. This included the development of asymmetrical power relations and centralized decision-making, together with changes in the social means of production, increased demands on male and female labor, centralized management of household activities, and changes in social learning. The fine temporal resolution of these data demonstrate how these processes affected each generation as individuals and households responded to the challenges and opportunities of life in large co-residential village communities.

To cite this article

Birch J., 2016 – Relations of Power and Production in Ancestral Wendat Communities, in Chapdelaine C., Burke A., Gernigon K. (eds.), Household Archaeology – A Transatlantic Comparative Approach, Proceedings of the International Symposium, October 24-25 2014, Université de Montréal, P@lethnology, 8, 31-48.