Stone Tool Traditions in the Contact Era

By Charles R. Cobb | Go to book overview

4
Chickasaw Lithic Technology: A Reassessment

Jay K. Johnson

My first exposure to a Contact-period lithic assemblage came when I volunteered to analyze the stone tools from the Orchard site, an early-eighteenthcentury Chickasaw site in northeast Mississippi. The collection contained many surprises (Johnson 1997). I had expected that the access to European trade goods would have resulted in the complete replacement of stone tools with metal ones. Not only was there a large number of stone tools in the collection from the Orchard site, but the lithic industry of this site is one of the most elaborate and structured assemblages to be found in the Midsouth.

Perhaps the most interesting of the stone tools are the thumbnail scrapers. The analyses of the Orchard site scrapers showed them to be uniform in size, shape, and technology. Strong evidence also suggests that the production demands of these tools forced the Chickasaws to exploit a new source of raw material, the Fort Payne tabular cherts which outcrop in the Tennessee River valley to the northeast. This material was of sufficient size to allow the production of the sort of flake blank that is critical in making a sharp but broad working-edge angle (Figure 4.1). The Chickasaw stone tool kit at the Orchard site also contains Dallas points which must have been arrowheads, broad bifacial knives, and awls.

The question was, if the Chickasaw had access to the obviously superior European tools, why were they using arrows and stone scrapers? A close examination of the spatial and temporal distribution of similar early historic tools in the Southeast led to a likely explanation. The Chickasaws’ location at the western extreme of the British trade network and their isolation as the result of hostilities from the French trade out of Mobile meant that they had relatively less access to metal tools. In order to participate in the deer skin trade, they were forced to supplement their tool kit with stone tools. In fact, scrapers also become more common at the edges of the early historic European trade network

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Stone Tool Traditions in the Contact Era
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Tables ix
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Lithic Technology and the Spanish Entrada at the King Site in Northwest Georgia 13
  • 3 - Wichita Tools on First Contact with the French 29
  • 4 - Chickasaw Lithic Technology- a Reassessment 51
  • 5 - Tools of Contact 59
  • 6 - Lithic Artifacts in Seventeenth-Century Native New England 78
  • 7 - Stone Adze Economies in Post-Contact Hawai'i 94
  • 8 - In All the Solemnity of Profound Smoking 109
  • 9 - Using a Rock in a Hard Place 127
  • 10 - Flint and Foxes 151
  • 11 - Discussion 165
  • References Cited 173
  • Contributors 205
  • Index 209
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