Thursday, October 25, 2007

Investigation alters vision of Indian village in Michigan
The Moccasin Bluff site is along the St. Joseph River in southwestern Michigan. In 1969, after finding bits of pottery typical of Upper Mississippian farming villages, archaeologists James Fitting and

Charles Cleland interpreted Moccasin Bluff as a large village site comparable to those occupied by the Potawatomi Indians during the early historic era.

In the summer 2007 issue of the journal Ethnohistory, Michigan State University archaeologist Jodie O'Gorman disputes this interpretation. Based on her investigation of the site, there is little other evidence of a large, agricultural village at Moccasin Bluff.

It's short but brings up the danger of using ethnographic analogy for interpreting archaeological remains, even when the groups you are studying are relatively close in time. The big problem with using early historic Amerindians as analogs is that much of the pre-Columbian society was completely altered before European explorers even observed many of these groups for the first time.