The Historical Ecology of the Chickasaw Migrationsherd

We are engaged in a long-term, collaborative effort tracing the migration of Chickasaw peoples from the Tombigbee drainage northward to the Black Prairie region surrounding modern-day Tupelo, Mississippi. This population movement involved a significant transformation in the historical ecology of Chickasaw lifeways, as they departed a riverine floodplain setting and adapted to a series of prairie ridges running through northeastern Mississippi. This shift, which occurred over a period of several centuries (1400s to 1700s AD), further witnessed the arrival of European cultures in the region. Our research is also aimed at understanding the impact of this arrival on Native Americans and Europeans alike.

In 2015 we initiated work on a site near Starkville, Mississippi that will continue into 2016. This site has yielded evidence of habitation areas and large pits filled with abundant amounts of pottery, stone tool remains, animal bone and botanical remains. In addition, we have recovered numerous iron, copper-alloy, and lead artifacts of European—and likely Spanish—origin. Our 2016 research team consists of the Chickasaw Native Explorers, the Ole Miss archaeological field school, and archaeologists from the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology and the Florida Museum of Natural History. This work is funded by the Chickasaw Nation and the National Geographic Society.

crossCataloguing the Spanish Missions of La Florida

In 2016, with funding support from the National Endowment of the Humanities, we began a major collections analysis project, Cataloging the Franciscan Missions of La Florida. Based on a model developed by the Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery (DAACS) at Monticello, we are developing an online digital database of artifact and image collections related to the excavations of several Franciscan Mission sites conducted by the Florida Museum of Natural History. The first stage of this project is scheduled to be completed and online in 2018, and we anticipate that this will open up a new era of virtual access to the collections held by the Historical Archaeology division at the Museum.