Social Memory of Violence and Enduring Colonialism: The Bioarchaeology of Resilience Among the Ancestral Puebloans



Fleming, Kota

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Recent explorations of resilience theory and violence within bioarchaeology have provided new insight into the continual Indigenous struggle against colonialism by studying the recent and deep past. This study seeks to demonstrate how analysis of traumatic injuries in the skeletal record elucidates evidence of flexibility, rigidity, resilience, and persistence of cultural identities using mitigation techniques during periods of socioecological changes. By examining published analyses of skeletal samples from the Ancestral Southwest sites of Pueblo Bonito (800-1200 CE), Point of Pines (400- 1450 CE), Hawikku (1300-1680 CE), and San Cristobal (1300-1680 CE), this study explores risks and likelihoods for experiencing trauma in reaction to various socioecological relations and colonialism. Pueblo Bonito and Point of Pines represent two extremes, where Pueblo Bonito's use of violence as social control created a rigidity trap and Point of Pines provides evidence for successful mitigation techniques. Hawikku and San Cristobal exhibit higher likelihoods of experiencing traumatic injuries, relating to increased Spanish taxation and negative interactions with the Great Plains and Ute or Comanche communities. Uniquely, these colonial sites did not show an increase in lethal cranial trauma, providing evidence for resilience in the Ancestral Puebloan community via social memory of previously successful mitigation techniques and small-scale changes to the social adaptive system. The results demonstrate an increase in the experienced violence due to the biologically transformative event of colonialism while also suggesting evidence for cultural resilience and endurance that continues today amongst the descendent communities of the Ancestral Southwest.



Archaeology, Violence, Southwest, Bioarchaeology, Resilience Theory, Ancestral Puebloans