You are currently viewing Cherokee Architecture: New Insights from Cultural Resource Management Archaeology in Southwestern North Carolina

Cherokee Architecture: New Insights from Cultural Resource Management Archaeology in Southwestern North Carolina

Dr. Ben Steere is the director of the Cherokee Studies program and associate professor of anthropology at Western Carolina University. Dr. Steere has worked on a collaborative study of ancestral Cherokee mound and town sites with the Tribal Historic Preservation Office of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI THPO) since 2011. He is the author of The Archaeology of Houses and Households in the Native Southeast (University of Alabama Press) and the recipient of the 2016 Principal Chief Leon D. Jones Award for Archaeological Excellence, presented by the EBCI THPO.

Over the last 20 years, archaeologists working in western North Carolina in close collaboration with the Tribal Historic Preservation Office of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians have carried out large-scale excavations that have uncovered the well-preserved post patterns of hundreds of ancestral Cherokee houses dating from approximately AD 500 to 1775 in southwestern North Carolina. This new architectural dataset has the potential to improve our understanding of daily life in ancestral Cherokee communities. How did house construction change over time, and what can these changes tell us about Cherokee families and their relationships within and between communities? In this paper I compare hundreds of houses from several large archaeological sites on the Qualla Boundary and surrounding counties and discuss patterns of change and continuity in house construction and community layout.

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