What ails them? The changing faunal utilization at the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation from the Late Woodland to the early 19th century. "What ails you that you can't have your houses, and orchards, and cattel, and gainful trades, as well as we?" -Cotton Mather (1700:12)

Date of Completion

January 2007


Anthropology, Archaeology|Native American Studies




This dissertation focuses on the changes in protein-based subsistence at the Mashantucket Pequot reservation during the 17th, 18 th and early 19th centuries. The lives of Southern New England Native Americans after the arrival of Europeans have frequently been examined to better understand the continuity and transformations experienced by indigenous people in a colonial context. Subsistence patterns and diet were one aspect of Native culture that was modified as a result of colonialism. In this dissertation the introduction of European domesticated animals was examined as part of these modifications. Along with changes, this research also indicated there were elements of continuity in the Native foodways examined. ^ Analysis of identified faunal remains from six archaeological sites found on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation provided the necessary data to examine dietary variations over time. The six sites ranged from a Late Woodland rock shelter to three late eighteenth/early nineteenth century Native farmsteads. The faunal remains were quantified and compared utilizing NISP (number of identified specimens) and weight. The archaeological data was also examined in relation to colonial records which provided additional data and a greater historical context in which to understand these changes.^ This research demonstrated how Native diets altered over time to include European domesticated animals into daily life. By the middle to late 18 th century European domesticated animal remains become a consistent component of Mashantucket Pequot faunal assemblages. These new resources were coupled with traditional indigenous foods to round out a complex diet. The changes and strategies the Mashantucket Pequot employed to maintain this complex diet where shaped by influences such as population decline, loss of land, the spread of Christianity, wage labor, and ongoing colonial warfare. These elements are not commonly explored in relation to foodways but as this research demonstrated they all played a key role in subsistence modifications at Mashantucket. ^