Publication Date

June 2011


The resurgence of Spanish mission archaeology in the American Southeast over the last three decades demonstrates the fallacy of the rigid and misleading Borderlands perspective on Franciscan-American Indian interactions. While engaging in the archaeology of Mission Santa Catalina de Guale, I suggested a broader-based,"cubist" approach toward the Spanish Borderlands history to seek, "multiple, simultaneous views of the subject" (Thomas 1989:7). Archaeology can indeed provide a critically important window through which to glimpse the Native American and European interactions in the Borderlands as elsewhere. By "democratizing" the past, archaeologists are framing new perspectives on minority populations and their experiences with dominant colonial cultures (Deagan 1991; Lightfoot 2005:17).

Today, such inquiries are typically folded into the language and methodologies of the "postcolonial critique," which challenges traditional colonialist epistemologies and questions those colonial and imperial representations of the "other" being colonized. Postcolonial theorists emphasize Native agency and investigate the hybrid, novel forms of culture that develop during colonial experiences (e.g., Gosden 2001; Lightfoot 2005:17; Leibman 2008:2; Patterson 2008:31-32).

In this paper, I examine how recent archaeological and ethnohistorical investigations of Mission Santa Catalina de Guale (Georgia) are contributing to a broader, more nuanced understanding of the Native-Spanish interactions that played out here.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.