Date Awarded

Summer 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Kathleen J. Bragdon

Committee Member

Marley R. Brown III

Committee Member

Martin D. Gallivan

Committee Member

Paul A. Robinson


Stones have always been significant to many Enishkeetompauwog, the original people of the Northeast. However, the identification of Tribal ceremonial stone landscapes in present-day New England has become controversial. Tribal officials argue that their views on ceremonial stones have been ignored. Further, the legacy of colonialism and the historic bias that it has instilled in New England has led to dismissal of Tribal ceremonial stone landscapes, resulting in the disassembly or even destruction of culturally significant resources during development projects. This dissertation contends that collaborative work with Tribal officials that respects their expertise on what is culturally significant is essential to the work of preservation. This dissertation research was carried out in collaboration with the four Tribal Historic Preservation offices of the Mashantucket Pequot, Mohegan, Narragansett, and Wampanoag of Gay Head (Aquinnah). Ceremonial stone landscapes may be described as locations of Tribal ceremonial activity characterized by stone features that were assembled or altered by humans, and that may incorporate natural landscape features. These sites are important loci of Tribal history, inter-Tribal ceremony, and collective memory. to identify ceremonial features, multiple lines of evidence are drawn together including Tribal oral tradition, historic and archival research, field research, and collaborative documentation. This dissertation features case studies of two ceremonial stone landscapes in the Narragansett homelands: the Narragansett Indian Reservation and the Nipsachuck landscape. The presentation of ceremonial stone landscape features and sites in useful formats, including GIS shapefiles and technical reports, contribute to their preservation and protection, and help to maintain Tribal connections to ceremonial places. These case studies also show that through collaborative research, various stakeholders can be positively influenced about the existence and importance of ceremonial landscapes. The geospatial data presented in these case studies are cited with the permission of the four Tribal Historic Preservation officers. These data have been previously presented to federal agencies and are confidential pursuant to Section 106 of National Historic Preservation (36 CFR 800.4[a][4], 800.11[c]). This project intersects with federal policies and academic efforts to implement geospatial technologies in the study of archaeological and historic records. This dissertation contributes to and draws from archaeological ways of thinking about memory, commemoration, and landscape archaeology. This research also contributes to the thematic studies of historical archaeology of Native Americans, to the new colonial history of New England, to the developing methodologies of Indigenous archaeology.




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