The Southeastern Woodland Archery Tradition: A Living Aboriginal Material Culture Tradition
Candillo, John Joseph
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This dissertation explores the extensive history of the Southeastern Woodland material culture tradition of archery over a span of approximately 3000 years. Information gathered from an assortment of disciplines including archaeology, ethnography, ethnohistory, material culture studies, and history is integrated into this paper and presented as a consolidated work. The archery tradition is a living material culture tradition which continues to be practiced in many Indigenous Southeastern Woodland communities today. This tradition has an extensive history which reconnects Indigenous peoples of contemporary time to traditions practiced in more ancient times. Through the pages of this paper the ancient aboriginal tradition of archery is connected with the contemporary practices in a number of Indigenous Southeastern woodland communities. This paper begins by looking at the pre-Columbian archery tradition through archaeology then moves through colonial documents until the focus is on the 21 st century where information presented is primarily ethnographic, ethnohistoric and oral tradition. A number of rare and previously unknown archery related artifacts, such as the Wheeler arrow, are presented in this paper. The Wheeler arrow (the oldest known intact Southeastern Woodland arrow in existence today) has not been examined in scholarship until its presentation within this work. Other rare archery related material culture objects are also presented. In concluding chapters, the contemporary Southeastern Woodland archery tradition is the focus. Transcription from interviews with a number of Southeastern Woodland bow and arrow makers from the Cherokee, Choctaw, Caddo and Catawba communities are provided. This provides special information on the diverse techniques still being used to make traditional Southeastern Woodland bows and arrows. This information is important as it provides contextual information about the process of manufacturing traditional Indigenous archery equipment. This paper presents the archery tradition as an integral and persisting part of Southeastern Woodland cultural identity. Further attention is given to how this tradition has become integrated as a symbol of Indigenous autonomy and the resistance to colonization. Here the ancient tradition of Indigenous archery is presented as a relevant component of 21 st century Southeastern Woodland cultures helping Indigenous people remain who they are. This work stands as a unique and innovative work presenting a material culture tradition from the perspective of a number of disciplines as well as focusing on it as a living component of culture.