Date Awarded

Summer 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Kathleen Bragdon

Committee Member

Martin Gallivan

Committee Member

Jonathan Glasser

Committee Member

Michelle Lelievre

Committee Member

John Worth


This dissertation argues that colonial Yamasee communities moved hundreds of miles throughout the present-day Southeastern United States, often to gain influence, and maintained traditions such as names they more closely associated with their ethnicity and authority than ceramics. Self-identification by Yamasees in censuses, speeches, and letters for a century and archaeological evidence from multiple towns allows me to analyze multiple expressions of their identity. their rich rhetoric demonstrates the mechanics of authority—they dictated terms to Europeans and other Native Americans by balancing between, in their words, vengeance and mercy. I focus on a letter and tattoo from a warrior called Caesar Augustus who justified his valor and the writings of a diplomat named andres Escudero who justified retribution. Combined, these and other leaders demonstrate the flexibility in their offices of authority. their political rhetoric—both ritual speech understood throughout the region as well as their specific titles and town names—demonstrates continuities between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. In addition, multiple movements of Yamasee communities across hundreds of miles demonstrates their agency and connections to their neighbors. These movements allowed Yamasees to dictate terms to Europeans and maintain town names, signs, and rhetoric for centuries. However, as a result of these community movements, Yamasees adopted the ceramic traditions of their neighbors. Considering the authority and ethnicity of Yamasees in their own words allows analysis of continuity and change in Yamasee landscapes of ceramic practice in Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida. More specifically, I analyzed materials from my own excavations at Mission San Antonio de Punta Rasa in Pensacola, Florida as well as assemblages excavated by the City of St. Augustine Archaeology Program and in South Carolina by Brockington and Associates. I quantify the extent to which Yamasees adopted the ceramic practices of their neighbors, including Guale, Mocama, Timucua, Apalachee, and Creek Indians. In a sense, this material flexibility reflects the very mobility and social connections that allowed them to maintain geopolitical influence. However, given their authority in Spanish documents and at times invisibility in the archaeological record, Yamasees show only indirect connections between authority and daily ceramic practice. Further, these ceramic practices, as well as Yamasee multilingualism, represent hybrid practices between multiple Native American groups rather than the influence of Europeans.



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