Colonial Encounters in a Native American Landscape: The Spanish and Dutch in North America by Nan A. Rothschild (Smithsonian Institution Press) 32 b/w illustrations. A unique comparative study of colonial encounters between the Spanish in New Mexico and the Dutch in New York.
Nan A. Rothschild examines the process of colonialism in two separate areas of seventeenth-century North America seeking to answer several key questions: Where did each group live vis-à-vis the other? How entangled were their respective material cultures? How did these situations change over time? What was the nature and extent of their economic relationships? She points out that colonialism has been greatly understudied, is highly variable, and that the comparison of different case studies can bring new understanding to the details of each case and to understanding variation in colonial processes at large. The book transcends simple comparisons because of its strong grounding in the theoretical literature of colonialism.
New data from many different sources are brought together here, including much that is only available in unpublished reports, site files, and archives. Using a framework that considers landscapes, goods, labor, exchange, and identity, Rothschild's approach provides a breadth to the comparison that underscores similarities and differences. This has not been attempted before in either strictly historical or archaeological work on these two areas and makes her book unique.
PREFACE: The idea for this comparison began about so or ii years ago, after I had spent some time working on the Zuni Reservation, where we surveyed five farming villages and excavated Lower Pescado Village, which had a historic as well as a Precolumbian occupation. As I began to learn more about Spanish colonial policy, I was struck by the difference between Spanish intentions and the outcome of the colonial encounter: Native American cultures survive strongly in New Mexico and Arizona in spite of serious efforts from the sixteenth century onward to transform the indigenous peoples into good Christians and loyal members of the Spanish empire. The disparity between Dutch traders' goals and their effect in the Mohawk-Hudson Valley was even more striking. The Mohawk had left their Mohawk Valley home by the late eighteenth century.
As I considered these differences and read historic accounts of the colonial encounter in each region, I came to believe that one unexplored way to understand these two outcomes was to conduct a fine-grained analysis of archaeological data in conjunction with historic information. Using archaeological tools of spatial analysis and material culture offers a unique way to "see" the relationships between two groups on the ground. Where does each group live in relation to the other? How entangled are their respective material cultures? And how do these situations change over time as the encounter proceeds? Combining these data with history and the body of theory about colonialism that has developed in anthropology offers the clearest path to understanding the past.
The book has taken a long time to complete, in part because of other demands on my time, but also because some of the most important sources were hard to obtain. Reports from cultural resource management projects provide the major part of the archaeological information I relied on for the Southwest. Academic archaeologists should make more use of this source of information, and since I had not done any work in the Rio Grande River Valley, these reports were essential to me. I was fortunate that Dean Snow had completed his compilation of Mohawk site information just prior to the time I was doing this research; I had studied the colonial Dutch in New York City but had not conducted archaeological research upstate. I know that in writing a book such as this, in which I compare two regions and people's behavior in them, I lack the depth of expertise possessed by archaeologists who have worked in only one of the two areas. I may have made some errors in fact or interpretation because of this but believe that the distance from each setting may provide an advantage, as I come to them without ingrained bias. In addition, anthropology's use of the comparative method is a strong element in the book.
Even after finishing this project, I do not fully understand some things, such as the social distance between Dutch men and Native American women, especially given the behavior of Dutch men in Batavia. I am also uncertain as to how those who were identified as Hispanic in the Southwest perceived themselves. There were a number of subcategories within the Hispanic rubric, and classifications were made by outsiders, officials of various kinds, who named people in racial terms. However, the material culture at Hispano sites signals a mixture of backgrounds that is difficult to interpret. Were these simply opportunistic uses of what was locally available, or do they signal variable identities?
I come away from the project with an admiration for the adaptability of many of those involved in the encounters: for the indigenous peoples who were invaded but maintained much of their culture intact, even if they had to relocate to do it; and for the colonists, who may have been aware of the grand designs of European elite but had to adapt to unforeseen circumstances in living in the New World. The role of indigenous women has mainly been neglected in historical writings on North American colonization, and I have tried to highlight their importance and present some of their responses to colonial situations as described in historical accounts. Understanding events in the past is a difficult endeavor, but the combination of firsthand descriptions, even given the observers' biases, with archaeological information, which has its own limitations, provides the best chance we have to capture a version of reality...
This book began with a paradox and a question. The Spanish went to New Mexico with the intention of gaining mineral wealth by controlling the labor, the bodies, and also the souls of Pueblo people. The Dutch had a simpler and seemingly more benign agenda, namely, to make a profit on the beaver trade. Why then are there no Mohawks remaining in the Mohawk River Valley while the Pueblo peoples are still present? In answering this question I have relied on a great deal of historical detail as background and have considered two very different approaches in order to explain the end result: one concentrates on cultural-philosophical factors, the other on material-economic ones, which are best manifest in archaeological data. The first takes into account differences between Catholicism and Protestantism and variations between the Mohawks and the Pueblos in social structure and accessibility. The role played by women in the two settings is crucial. The second uses the role of goods to monitor interaction between peoples. It focuses on geography (the Hudson River's accessibility as a trade corridor), the economic orientation of the Dutch as a mercantile capitalist and urban nation, in contrast to the medieval perspective of the Spanish; and the resulting material flows---notably of European goods-that entered each indigenous area. In each case, the interactions between the two societies, indigenous and European, reveal the ways in which each party attempted to control the situation, the areas in which each was successful, and those in which they were not.
These cases represent two different forms of colonialism and associated repression, one quite explicit and the other more subtle. In the Southwest, the Spanish goals for the Pueblos amounted to cultural annihilation, which failed to occur and which paradoxically may have produced the kind of resistance that led to survival. The other system kept indigenous people in a separate "nonhuman" box, interacting with them only for purposes of trade, with the trade involving unsustainable resources...
Throughout this work I have stressed the significance of material manifestations of interaction as the way to understand the process of colonial entanglements, the degree of interdependence, and the formation of identities. The difference between the two pairs that are described here is seen in the flows of goods and labor between them, and is expressed in archaeological terms through settlement pattern and landscape, through subsistence information, and in artifact assemblages. In the Southwest, Pueblo labor and services were appropriated and in "exchange" the Spanish offered/imposed Christianity. A limited Spanish dominance appears in the pre-revolt period in the exclusive control of some resources (such as sheep) and better access to metal by Spanish settlers. After the revolt, the Pueblos obtained sheep, which became economically important but also contributed to environmental degradation. They also gained more access to metal tools, although metal was such a scarce commodity that Hispanos as well as Pueblos used stone tools in addition to metal ones.
The post-revolt period was marked by greater acceptance of Pueblo religious practices by the friars, demonstrating the failure of Spanish colonial power. The location of refuge settlements is also a marker of events just prior to and after the revolt, as is the movement of peoples seen in changing ceramic styles. The early decline in site numbers may derive from the Spanish policy of consolidation, but even prior to the revolt some Pueblos moved to smaller sites that may have served for refuge in less accessible locations than the Rio Grande Valley. The later and striking decline in numbers of sites is a reflection of population loss due to disease and emigration to the western pueblos. The continued maintenance of the New Mexico colony was driven by the need to protect Spanish territory.
The similarity in material culture between Pueblo and Spanish sites reflects the degree to which they were involved in a single overarching economic and cultural sphere, mediated in large part by women. This should not be taken to mean that there were no differences between Hispanic and Pueblo peoples, or that there was no social hierarchy. Certain goods that were not shared (elaborate clothing of silk and lace, precious metal objects, both sacred and profane, for the Spanish; symbols of office and ritually crucial objects for the Pueblos) would not appear in archaeological assemblages and would not have been used in daily life but represented cultural capital in Bourdieu's (1984) sense. It was possession and knowledge of these things rather than frequent use that mattered and validated the status of their holders. Some of these would have been the most significant and inalienable objects in both cultures and would have been the meaningful markers that "stabilized and made visual the categories of culture" (Douglas and Isherwood 1996) in the Southwest. Language was also essential in defining identities. Spanish was both a marker of Hispanic culture and a reflection of attempted hegemony. The retention of indigenous languages became a form of resistance as well as an identity marker.
Again, the contrast between the Rio Grande Valley and the Hudson Valley offers a way to clarify each context. The distance between Mohawks and Dutch is clearly seen in settlement location and structure, in the early presence of fortifications (which the Dutch maintained although the Iroquois stopped living in stockaded villages before Dutch settlement). The social distance and lack of integration between Dutch and Mohawk societies is seen in the one-way flow of manufactured goods. New Netherland Dutch archaeological assemblages include delft plates and tiles, Dutch cooking pots, white clay pipes made in the Netherlands, and almost no Mohawk objects. Mohawk assemblages include copper and brass objects and ornaments, many glass beads, and iron tools. The return flow included Indian foods eaten in Dutch households, although they were prepared in Dutch ways, and beaver skins.
The forms of exchange that occurred in these two regions of North America differed to some degree, although gift exchange was characteristic of both settings, especially in the early stage; in the beaver trade, commodities were offered on both sides, by Mohawk and Dutch people, "commodities" being taken to mean something alienable, produced for exchange with the intention of receiving something in return. The acquisition of pottery by the Spanish from Pueblo or genizaro women also may have involved commodity production-it was certainly that during the post-revolt phase of contact, and perhaps even before contact protohistoric Pueblo women may have been making pottery as a commodity. It is the moment of exchange that defines whether something is a commodity or a gift, and both goods and people can function in either capacity, at different times. Genizaros represent an excellent example of individuals who were first defined in a commodified state (having been ransomed by Spanish individuals and working for them), were subsequently released and uncommodified, but were landless. They were ideal candidates to settle in the buffer settlements constructed around Santa Fe in the eighteenth century to protect the capital. Their reputed talent as soldiers got them land, and sometimes they acquired wealth as booty from fighting.
The demand for and provision of services conformed to the same kinds of economic exchange that pertained to objects. For the most part, labor was extracted directly from Pueblo peoples by the Spanish and was indirectly acquired from the Mohawks through the incentive of trade goods that became desirable. One of the interesting differences between these contexts concerns the appropriation of women's domestic and sexual labor. The Dutch used this labor little if at all, while Spanish and Hispanic men made great use of it. In both parts of North America there is documentary evidence suggesting that women sometimes offered these services of their own volition, while in the Southwest in particular there is ample evidence of their forced extraction. Men were also required to perform labor, in the fields, in military service or other capacities, or indirectly by hunting beaver. In the Mohawk Valley I suspect that the apparent reluctance of Dutch men to exploit indigenous women's sexual services was matched by a lack of interest on the part of Mohawk women, although it may be that they had fewer opportunities to meet Dutch men than was true for Algonkian women (Snow 1994), who were sometimes willing to have a relationship with a European-either sexual or one that linked a range of women's activities together. If a Mohawk woman had had such a liaison, she would have kept as her own any children from that union.
In both of these colonial examples, and in many others, there are striking examples of each society misunderstanding the other's intentions. Whether it was the difference between the offering of food as a gift, which was taken as tribute, or the implications of the "sale" of land, often meant as the sale of use rights but taken to include rights of disposal, these were crucial to the ultimate outcomes of colonial encounters in these and other case studies. Differences in dress and sometimes in attitudes toward sex on the part of indigenous women and men were also misinterpreted and taken as a sign of sexual availability, which suited colonial men's wishes.
A number of archaeologically visible elements are important monitors of all colonial relationships. Land use and the control of land are critical to the interaction and to an understanding of it. Land use is reflected in the variant landscapes that may exist within a single terrain. The connections between peoples are better understood through the congruities of these landscapes than through the concepts of boundaries and frontiers, which are limited and too concrete. A landscape view is more nuanced and allows for changing and multidimensional understandings and the complexity of cultural interactions in colonial settings. The landscape itself is made of layers of mind and memory as much as rock and dirt. It is remarkable that even in the Rio Grande Valley, with the Spanish living among the Pueblos, the Pueblo landscape was theirs alone in many ways and remained private, with secret places. The Mohawks also retained control of their landscape as few Dutch wanted to enter it. The Pueblos retained much of their land, however, whereas the Mohawks ultimately gave theirs up and had to leave the Mohawk Valley, demonstrating at a very basic level the different outcomes of the situations being compared.
The contrast in identity formation and expression is another crucial element in this comparison. Ethnogenesis did not develop in the interaction between the Dutch and Mohawks, but it did in the interaction between the Spanish and Pueblos in the Southwest. The Spanish policy of control from within, with concomitant sexual intimacy, was responsible for the creation of a new people, the Hispanic people, with a unique identity. Though genetically a mixture of Spanish and Indian (including indigenous members of Mexican and New Mexican groups), socially they considered themselves separate from indigenous peoples. The notion of clearly manifest, stable ethnicities is not appropriate in situations like the Rio Grande Valley. Initially, the Spanish-defined castas represented an attempt to create racial identifications, but the system was impractical and unworkable. The establishment of the Hispanic culture took considerable time and ultimately reflected both Hispanic and indigenous ancestors. It also developed in opposition to Pueblo culture, and each was constructed to some degree, in contrast to the other.
Finding material signals of ethnic identities is easy in the Mohawk Valley for there is little chance of confusing Dutch and Mohawk sites because of the clear social distance between the peoples involved. Hispanic material culture, however, is a true mixture of both antecedents, with stone tools in use through at least the middle of the nineteenth century. The development of Hispanic pottery, thought to have occurred in the eighteenth century, may not have served as a meaningful identity marker. In some sense the lack of marking of Hispanic culture relates to the difficulty in gaining access to European goods, but there were items and practices in use that made identities clear, even though these are not as accessible through archaeology. Subsistence practices were rather similar in both settings because many basic foods themselves are unmarked, although control of domestic animals was reserved for Europeans through at least the early stages of interaction. Even though goods are neutral and their uses social, not all goods necessarily serve as social markers. We may, however, use similarities in assemblages as indicators of proximity and the interconnectedness of people. From this perspective, peoples living in the Rio Grande Valley were closely associated, regardless of their stated identity. The Dutch and the Mohawks were clearly connected, but in a different, less mutually dependent way. In both settings, identities would have been clear to all parties. Hispanic identity was less clearly marked because of limited access to European goods, but also because the Hispanos had indigenous ancestors. Mohawks retained clear expression of their own identity, even with the adoption of many European goods, selected to suit Mohawk needs. At the same time, the Mohawks retained their objects of traditional significance.
As this project has demonstrated, archaeological data can depict the interactions and forms of interconnections between peoples in colonial settings. In the past, as in the present, material aspects of peoples' lives convey important information about social situations. The use of spatial information, the analysis of food remains, and examination of utilitarian objects underline the dramatic differences between the two cases studies examined here. Interpreting all these forms requires a historicized knowledge of the culture and its context, especially in complex situations such as those described. It is also crucial to evaluate gendered control of various forms of goods. While much existing research has examined the material manifestations of identity, unmarked forms of material culture, such as foods or certain types of casual tools-often ignored in material culture studies-may produce highly significant knowledge about connections between peoples.
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