Recalling Cahokia: Indigenous influences on English commercial expansion and imperial ascendancy in proprietary South Carolina, 1663--1721

This dissertation explores the nature of Indigenous influences on trade and diplomacy in proprietary South Carolina. While I was initially interested in the ways in which Indigenous slavery enriched proprietary Carolina and capitalized its commercial and imperial expansion, I was not willing to begin my investigation in AD 1670 because principle agents of this economic activity were members of Native societies, which had only a few generations prior to the establishment of Charles Town had lived under the hegemony of Mississippian mound centers and participated in Mississippian systems of governance, diplomacy, and exchange.

As a result, this dissertation contextualizes Charles Town's commercial and diplomatic interactions with Native southeastern peoples from various Indigenous perspectives. Part One considers the long tradition of North American mound construction, emphasizing the Mississippian period, final epoch of moundbuilding, because Mississippian peoples encountered European explorers throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and interacted with Euro-American settler populations until the 1730s. Part Two attempts to demonstrate cultural, social and political continuity between Last Mississippian societies and historic southeastern tribal confederacies by critically considering the nature of Indigenous sociopolitical reorganization during the protohistoric period, embracing tribal traditions that openly celebrate connections to moundbuilding societies, and identifying Mississippian survivals in the sociopolitical institutions of Native southeastern peoples. Part Three demonstrates the utility of such broad methodological approaches, using Native history and culture as backdrops for examining, re-reading, and explicating the events of cross-cultural interaction during Carolina's proprietary period.

By creating and nurturing a market for indigenous slaves, Charles Town merchants were able to profoundly affect the social, economic, and political reorganization of indigenous peoples throughout the region; however, the institutional parameters and practical logistics of southeastern cross-cultural interaction remained distinctly Indigenous in character. I argue that Charles Town's Indian slave economy was subsidized by Indigenous institutions, which, although modified from their Pre-Columbian character, retained numerous Mississippian qualities. By incorporating English traders and commodities into preexisting commercial and diplomatic networks, Native peoples subsidized Carolina's commercial expansion and imperial ascendancy both directly and indirectly, catapulting South Carolina into positions of economic and diplomatic prominence, in ways which have not been completely explored.


Kevin Wall


K. Tsianina Lomawaima





Arizona State Museum: 

P9791 W275r


ATT 3205471
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences