Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Martin Gallivan

Committee Member

Danielle Moretti-Langholtz

Committee Member

Brad Weiss

Committee Member

Andrew Fisher


This dissertation explores the responses and engagement of the Pamunkey Indians with an expanding capitalist economy in nineteenth century Tidewater Virginia. Framed by theoretical discourses of political economy and landscape, I investigate the Pamunkey community’s Reservation subsistence economy, and the transitional effects the infiltration of industrial capitalism had on the economic life and experiences of Pamunkey people. Evidence uncovered from archaeological investigations on the Reservation, archival resources, and oral testimony from tribal members reveal how the Pamunkey community structured their engagement with the market. Pamunkey market engagement formed a mixed economy that followed an annual seasonal round grounded in the Reservation landscape. The annual round combined traditional subsistence practices of pottery making, fishing, hunting, trapping and horticulture with migratory wage labor. It is apparent these processes and the relationships that fueled them are still at work within the contemporary Reservation community. Thus, this dissertation and the questions that inform it are also shaped by the historical consciousness of the Pamunkey people. Pamunkey economic experiences throughout the nineteenth century highlight the persistence, creative agency, and ingenuity of an Indigenous community that was socially, economically, and politically marginalized. The Pamunkey community’s ability to strategically adapt these practices structured the community’s engagement in the capitalist economy to the Tribe’s advantage, while simultaneously ensuring these practices and the knowledge required to do them survived for future generations.



© The Author