This piece examines a collection of archaeological fabrics never before published, from fifteen historic-period Seneca sites, held by the Rochester Museum and Science Center (RMSC). The collection includes one of the largest assemblages of early modern archaeological fabrics in the world and the single largest collection of such fabrics from Native North American sites. The documentary sources for this period mainly cover the frontiers of Iroquois-European interaction, but the RMSC collection represents a unique window on cultural entanglement and incorporation of new material culture in Native American homelands. Together with the textual record, the RMSC collection shows the ways in which Seneca cultural entanglement with European settlements on the fringes of Iroquoia allowed women to elaborate on existing decorative traditions with new raw materials and to craft a rising standard of living. A careful reading of the choices apparent in the selection of fabrics at Seneca sites shows that the symbolic meanings of Iroquois material culture shifted between home and the diplomatic frontier while Seneca paradigms structured the integration of imported goods.
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Maeve Kane; Covered with Such a Cappe: The Archaeology of Seneca Clothing, 1615–1820. Ethnohistory 1 January 2014; 61 (1): 1–25. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00141801-2376060
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