Evaluating Cahokian Contact and Mississippian Identity Politics in the Late Prehistoric Central Illinois River Valley


This paper employs a practice-based framework for investigating early Mississippian period culture contact and identity negotiation in the Central Illinois River Valley (CIRV) through the lens of foodways. The Eveland phase (A.D. 1100–1200) was a setting of significant cultural change as a result of the movement of Cahokian people, objects, and ideas into the region. Recent analysis of excavated materials from the Lamb site in the southern portion of the CIRV affords a closer look at this historical process. Using ceramic and pit feature data, I assess Cahokian influence on traditional Late Woodland era culinary practices. I conclude that although local residents were actively adopting some aspects of Mississippian culture (including Cahokia potting traditions), they retained traditional Late Woodland organizational practices of cooking, serving, and storing food. By placing the organization of foodways at the center of this study, this paper illuminates another dimension of Cahokian contact in the region.

American Antiquity 79(1)