Protohistoric Village Organization and Territorial Maintenance: The Archaeology of Síi Túupentak (CA-ALA-565/H) in the San Francisco Bay Area, by Brian F. Byrd, Laurel Engbring, Michael Darcangelo and Allika Ruby (Published by Center for Archaeological Research at Davis, CARD Publication 20, editor Gregory H. Wada; 39 contributors, 19 chapters, 552 pages)
This monograph presents the results of extensive archaeological investigations at Síi Túupentak (Place of the Water Round House Site), a large ancestral Native American Ohlone village and associated cemetery in the southeast San Francisco Bay area, U.S.A. This was a collaborative study by an interdisciplinary team of researchers led by Far Western and the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe (Tribe) descendant community and supported by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. The study documents the lifeways of the village inhabitants for four centuries prior to their forced relocation in 1805, exploring economic adaptations, health, and social-political organization.
As requested by the Tribe prior to the start of the project, detailed archaeometric analysis was carried out on the ancestral Ohlone individuals recovered from burial excavations to gain new insights into community trends, social and ideological complexity, and the lives of these individuals. Archaeometric analyses of individuals included: radiocarbon dating; amelogenin proteins in teeth to determine sex of the entire population; ancient DNA (full genome, oral microbiome, and occasionally for tuberculosis); isotopic composition (C, N, S, Sr) for weaning age; diet; and individual residential shifts during lifetimes; and tobacco use from nicotine in dental calculus.
Tribal members and representatives of the scientific community are collectively looking into the lives and tragedy of the death of people from the past. For the Tribe, this includes sex determination to provide a greater perspective on the persona of each individual, rather than the nebulous “indeterminate” status of a person or child. If it were not for their sacrifice, struggles, and commitment to their families, Muwekma Ohlone would not survive to this day. Today, the Muwekma Ohlone celebrate the lives of their ancestors by retelling their history and stories through archaeology, and ultimately honor them when they are returned to the warep (the earth), where their loved ones originally placed them with love and respect.
The results demonstrate this was a substantial sedentary village, probably the most significant community within the Causen Ohlone territory. This study highlights temporal trends in community-level organization, economic structure; demographics, health and diet, social identify; and regional inter-community interaction and alliance maintenance. The study provides a bridge of Ohlone lifeways from pre-contact through post-contact. New insights are provided into indigenous lifeways from just prior to early European exploration, through some 30 years of Spanish colonization, and ultimately the forced relocation to nearby mission enclaves — a period of momentous change in the lives of native people.
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