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Archaeology of Identity and DissonanceContexts for a Brave New World$
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Diane F. George  and Bernice Kurchin

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780813056197

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813056197.001.0001

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Two Houses Windows on the Identity of Chief Richardville

Two Houses Windows on the Identity of Chief Richardville

(p.92) 5 Two Houses Windows on the Identity of Chief Richardville
Archaeology of Identity and Dissonance

Elizabeth Katherine Spott

University Press of Florida

This chapter examines the life of Jean Baptiste de Richardville, the last civil chief of the Miami tribe, as he navigated the pluralistic frontier society of the nineteenth-century Great Lakes region. Richardville drew upon elements of his Métis (mixed French-Miami) ancestry as well as his class to produce and enact various identities. His skilled negotiation of the divergent worlds he inhabited served to secure his role within the Miami tribe, as well as within the dominant white culture. In particular, this chapter looks at identity formation through Richardville’s two houses, an ornate Greek revival building (the Chief Richardville House) that served as his residence and a place for lavish entertainment, and the more modest Richardville/Lafontaine House that he used for the fur trade and treaty negotiations. These buildings, and archival evidence of Richardville’s life, shed light on how he constructed and maintained a fluid social identity to thrive in a potentially contentious and continually evolving setting.

Keywords:   Chief Richardville, Fur trade, Métis, Great Lakes region

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