The Human Family

3 Cherokee fish weirs

Fishing weirs in the Tuckasegee and Little Tennessee

Tuckasegee River

Allman fish weir

The high visibility of the Allman weir in Webster is owing in part to its maintenance by post-Removal property owners.

To view this weir, find the pull off on River Road between Dillsboro and Webster and walk a few yards south. While it is possible to make out the weir through full summer foliage, it is most visible seen when the leaves are down.

Tuckasegee River; Cherokee; weir; fishing

The Allman weir in Webster, N.C.



Cherokee villages in the Nacoochee Valley

Nacoochee and Chota

The first detailed written account of the Cherokee Country is found in the journal kept by one of the officers serving in the 1715/16 expedition into the region that took place in the context of the Yamasee War. The journal documents the presence of two Cherokee villages in the Nacoochee Valley. Nacoochee was located somewhere on the eastern end of the valley; Chota was centered at the mound on the western end of valley.

Archaeology of the Nacoochee Mound

Chattahoochee River

Chota’s mound is a highly visible contemporary landmark, found even on the USGS Helen topo quad.


Wyandot landmarks in Upper Sandusky, Ohio

Pre-Removal Wyandot settlement traces in Central Ohio

Some work-related travel took me between St. Clairsville and Findlay last week. I planned out my return route so as to take me past Upper Sandusky, location of a Wyandot settlement from the Revolutionary War period to Removal in 1842.

I am vaguely aware of the importance of the Wyandot in the political and military affairs of the Old Northwest, and that they and the Cherokee were in conflict during the mid-18th century. In truth, they may well be the Iroquoian group about whom I know the least. I find that learning about settlement pattern stuff is the best way for me to begin to get a grip on any group’s social life and history. It’s helpful to me on paper and all the more so up close and personal.

With that in mind, feel free to enjoy the following photos from the couple of hours I spent piddling around Upper Sandusky last Wednesday (06 May 2015). (more…)

Grave Creek Mound: Adena monumental architecture

Photos from my visit to Moundsville, West Virginia

I visited the Grave Creek Mound and adjoining Delf Norona Museum this past Saturday (02 May 2015). I unreservedly recommend a visit to anyone with the slightest bit of interest in (pre)history, commemoration, and/or museology and who happens to find themselves in the general vicinity of Wheeling. Give yourself an hour or so to climb the mound and tour the modest exhibitions, then indulge yourself with an ice cream at the kitschy place across the street.

The physical address is 801 Jefferson Ave, Moundsville, West Viginia; GPS coordinates are 39.91690 -80.74352.


Northern side of Grave Creek Mound.


Cyberbullying at the drive-in; ‘The Force Awakens’ trailer

Millennial digital content via G.I. Generation analog technology and vice versa

I was stopped short earlier today as I drove between Wooster and St. Clairsville when I happened upon Ohio’s oldest drive-in in Strasburg.

18 April 2015 – It may be the 21st century, but you'll need cash on hand if you want into Strasburg, Ohio’s, 78-year-old drive-in.

18 April 2015 – It may be the 21st century, but you’ll need cash on hand if you want into Strasburg, Ohio’s, 78-year-old drive-in.


Chota and Tanasi in the earliest documents

The Southeastern twin town settlement pattern among the Overhill Cherokee

The “twin town” settlement layout of Chota and Tanasi poses an immediate challenge to the taken-for-granted notion of communities as spatially distinct social entities.1 The first documented European visitor to the communities, George Chicken in July of 1725, displayed his acute ethnographic eye in noting the presence of both, but was forced to resort to circumlocution in describing it: “Here are two town Housses in this Town by reason they are the people of Two towns settled together.”2

The path between the Valley Towns and the Overhill Towns on George Hunter’s 1730 map. Note that only Tanasi alone, and not Chota, is labeled.


Philippe Descola’s modes of relation

Forms of attachment

Phillippe Descola’s modes of identification—animism, totemism, analogism, and naturalism—have gained some currency in the world of American anthropology. Less well-known are his modes of relation. The present post is a brief overview of those six modes, drawn from chapter 13 of his book Beyond nature and culture (also available OA from HAU).

Descola’s usage is distinct from that of Mauss and Lévi-Strauss. Rather than muck up the presentation of his own usage by presenting it vis-a-vis theirs, I invite interested readers to consult his book. There he treats the differences as well as his rationale. If you are a splitter like myself I suspect you might be inclined to see a value in his shaking up of first principles. Lumpers may be less so inclined.

Transfers: gift, exchange, predation

The first triad of modes of relation are reversible. That is, the parties to the relationship, might, potentially, be on either side of the relation.


Gifting per Descola’s definition is giving with no expectation that something has to be given in return. This is not to say that countergifting does not exist. It is to say that countergifts do not constitute one side of an exchange relationship.

The Magi depicted on an early 6th century mosaic at the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy.


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