Historical archaeologists have given relatively scant attention to the study of Native Americans. Despite the potential to contribute to new understandings about Native peoples during and after European contact, the research commitment has been ambivalent at best. In this review, I ground this relationship in early debates about the field's subject matter and concurrent discussions in anthropology about direct-historical and acculturation models. In addition, I highlight currents in research that have refined these approaches as well as those that have charted new directions. The latter are notable for helping comprehend the role of place and tradition in Native peoples' lives, but also for reminding us of the complexities of identity construction in America after European contact. I reason that historical archaeology's use of multiple sources, if linked creatively, can be crucial in producing knowledge about the past that illuminates the rich diversity of experiences among Native Americans.

“Did these occurrences have a paradigm…that went back in time? Or are we working out the minor details of a strictly random pattern?”

Erdrich (1998:240)

“…all of us remembering what we have heard together—that creates the whole story the long story of the people.”

Silko (1981:7)

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  • Article Type: Review Article
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