Historical Archaeology: The Native Alaskan Village Site

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Historical archaeology is a sub-disciple of archaeology, which is based on examining the historical records and the material remains of past societies. This sub-discipline of archaeology uses historical records as a tool in explaining the culture history of past societies who lived previously in an archaeological site. The following essay examines both the historical background of an early nineteenth century Russian settlement known as the Fort Ross Colony and an archaeological analysis of one of the colony’s village sites known as the Native Alaskan Village Site (NAVS). The Native Alaskan Village Site is significant in North American archaeology because this archaeological site shows spatial evidence of cultural interactions between different…show more content…
(Lightfoot 2006:118) The leader of this workforce Ivan Kuskov, surveyed the central coastal region of California to evaluate possible locations for the Fort Ross Colony. (Lightfoot 2006:119) This Russian colony needed to include a port because of the colony’s fur trade, access to the forests because of the timber necessary to construct the Russian colony, and access to fertile soil for developing agriculture and pastoralism. (Lightfoot 2006:119) According to the journal article, Daily Practice and Material Culture in Pluralistic Social Settings, the Russian American Company imposed a colonial hierarchy which defined the status, work, pay, and living arrangements off all its workers. This social hierarchical system is composed of four major “estates” or social classes which started from the Russian estate, then the Creole (people of mixed Russian and native blood) estate, then the “Aletus” or Native Alaskan estate, and finally at the bottom of the social hierarchal system is the Indian estate. (Lightfoot et at. 1998) The Russian American Company recruited the local Kashya Pomo and Miwok tribes as laborers. (Lightfoot 2006:122) The Russian officials needed a source of cheap labor from the local Indian tribes because they wanted to exploit the natural resources within the colony for their own economic interests. Unlike the Indian communities associated with the Franciscan Missions in Alta California, the Russians did not care about the Christian ideology of converting the native Californians into the Russian Orthodox religion. (Lightfoot 2006:130) The Russian officials treated the Kashya Pomo and Miwok people fairly and equally because they were interested in their own
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