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The Archaeology of Villages in Eastern North America$
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Jennifer Birch and Victor D. Thompson

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781683400462

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9781683400462.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FLORIDA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.florida.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University Press of Florida, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FLASO for personal use.date: 03 August 2021

The Power of Powhatan Towns

The Power of Powhatan Towns

Socializing Manitou in the Algonquian Chesapeake

(p.160) 10 The Power of Powhatan Towns
The Archaeology of Villages in Eastern North America

Martin D. Gallivan

Christopher J. Shephard

Jessica A. Jenkins

University Press of Florida

This chapter proposes a Powhatan theory of power and suggests links to the archaeology and ethnohistory of towns in the lower Chesapeake. Early colonial-era sources highlight a recurring process whereby powerful outside forces, materials, and people were socialized within the Powhatan settlements known as Kings’ Houses. We suggest that a key Algonquian concept for understanding this process is manitou—the vital spiritual force manifest in dangerously potent people, animals, objects, and places. Within the Kings’ Houses of the colonial-era, Powhatan leaders harnessed manitou by orchestrating ritual, trade, and the built environment. Archaeological evidence of feasting, ditches, and palisades points toward similar practices associated with the construction of boundaries—ditches and palisades—within prominent settlements, starting in the thirteenth century AD. By transforming the objects and people that transgressed these boundaries, religious practitioners and political leaders exercised a “tactical power” grounded in Kings’ Houses and animated by manitou.

Keywords:   Chesapeake, Powhatan, Algonquian, Manitou, Boundaries, Ditches, Feasting, tactical power

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