Weaving together Indigenous, feminist and archaeological approaches, this dissertation examines the frameworks we use for understanding and representing indigenous colonial experiences and identities. Within the context of North American archaeologies of colonialism, how we interpret and represent the impact of colonial encounters upon Indigenous communities can directly impact these communities' control over their cultural heritage. My dissertation presents a case study of these issues and offers an alternative practice of archaeology that empowers tribal decision-making in the study, preservation and representation of their own cultural heritage.
This dissertation applies a community-based approach in the study of the Kashaya Pomo's 19th Century colonial heritage at Fort Ross State Historic Park and asks two related questions: 1) how can an archaeology of colonialism best envision colonial encounters between Europeans and Indigenous peoples? and 2) how do contemporary political and cultural landscapes relate to our representations of the colonial past? My dissertation addresses these questions through a case study of the North Wall Community, a historic multi-ethnic village site that was part of the Russian Colony of Fort Ross (1812-1841). Investigation of the community's interethnic households, occupied by Kashaya women and their Russian and Creole partners, provides the basis for the development of interpretive content for the Kashaya Pomo Interpretive Trail at Fort Ross State Historic Park. The goal of this dissertation project is the creation of a low-impact archaeological methodology that minimizes the trail and archaeology's impact upon Kashaya ancestral sites, and upon the tribal community.
The dissertation is divided into four parts. In Part I, I outline a decolonized approach to archaeology that integrates indigenous epistemologies into archaeological theory and practice. Drawing upon the work of Patricia Hill Collins, Linda Tuhiwai Smith and Devon Mihesuah, I use an intersectional, indigenous and feminist approach to the archaeology of colonialism at Fort Ross, CA. In Part II, I introduce the Kashaya Pomo Interpretive Trail Project, focusing on how this collaborative project has engendered decolonized representations of archaeology and Kashaya heritage at Fort Ross State Historic Park.
In Part III, I develop a low-impact archaeological approach for the study of Kashaya ancestral sites that minimizes archaeology's disturbance to both the ground and the tribal community, who views archaeology as a potentially dangerous activity. Drawing upon this framework, I present the results of field and laboratory analyses the inter-ethnic households located at the North Wall Community. In Part IV, I discuss the implications of combining archaeological research with the development of public outreach programs that engage the public in productive dialogues about heritage. Collaboration with the tribe on this project has resulted in community-specific guidelines for the study, care and disposition of Kashaya cultural resources. Creating a community-based cultural education and outreach program has also been critical for establishing an archaeology of colonialism that not only integrates Indigenous views on science, spirituality and heritage into the study and representation of the colonial past, but which also remakes the practice of archaeology into an ethically and morally just endeavor.