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Languages Past and Present: Archaeological Approaches to the Appearance of Northern Iroquoian Speakers in the Lower Great Lakes Region of North America

Scott W. J. Martin
American Antiquity
Vol. 73, No. 3 (Jul., 2008), pp. 441-463
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25470499
Page Count: 23
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Languages Past and Present: Archaeological Approaches to the Appearance of Northern Iroquoian Speakers in the Lower Great Lakes Region of North America
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Abstract

Archaeological accounts of the spread of agriculture tend to favor either (im)migration/demic diffusion or in situ development/stimulus diffusion. Having moved away from the early twentieth-century's community-wide migration model for Iroquoian origins in the Lower Great Lakes region and southern Ontario in particular, orthodox archaeological belief over the past half-century had come to place Northern Iroquoian speakers in the area since at least 2,000 years ago and likely much earlier. In what appear to be modified versions of the older migrationist arguments, contemporary thought within archaeology once more seems to allow that wholesale relocations were responsible for bringing farming into the region. It has been suggested, for example, that Northern Iroquoian speakers entered southern Ontario as recently as the early or middle centuries of the first millennium A.D. In this paper, I recount the routes this debate has taken and show that the appearance of maize (Zea mays) agriculture, alongside a few other materials, has come to be bound up with documenting the arrival of Northern Iroquoian-speaking communities. I conclude by reiterating the cautions advised by a number of researchers for how we read past ethnicity from archaeological materials and the role this plays in contemporary political discourse between First Nations and others. /// La visión de la arqueología sobre la propagación de la agricultura tiende a favorecer la difusión de tipo (in)migracional/dermica o de desarrollo/estimulo in-situ. Habiéndose alejado del modelo de principios del siglo 20 sobre la migración comunitaria como el origen del pueblo Iroqués en la zona baja de los grandes lagos, y en particular en el sur de Ontario, la ortodoxia arqueológica ha llegado, durante el ultimo medio siglo, a ubicar en el área una población de habla iroqués norteño desde al menos 2000 años atrás, e incluso posiblemente desde mucho antes. En lo que suena a modificaciones de los viejos argumentos migratorios, la arqueología actual parece aceptar nuevamente que reubicaciones comunitarias fueron la causa de la aparición de la agricultura en la región. Por ejemplo, se ha sugerido que ya en los siglos medios del primer milenio d.C. habitaban pobladores de habla iroqués norteño en el sur de Ontario. Aquí repaso los caminos que ha tomado este debate y demuestro que la aparición de la agricultura de maíz (Zea mays), junto con algunos otros materiales, ha llegado a entrelazarse con la documentación de la llegada de las comunidades de habla iroqués. Concluyo reiterando el llamado a cautela sugerido por un número de investigadores sobre la manera en que determinamos la etnia de antiguos artefactos arqueológicos y la influencia que esto tiene en el discurso político actual entre las primeras-naciones y otros.

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