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Post-Colonial' North American Indigeneity: Approaches to Heritage and Identity in Archaeological Frameworks



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Stein, Leah 


Archaeology and Heritage have both contributed to the erasure of Indigenous histories. Heritage—specifically what Smith (2006) refers to as the ‘Authorised Heritage Discourse’—has had lasting detrimental impacts on Indigenous communities, overemphasising tangible materiality and granting archaeologists and curators excessive interpretive authority over Indigenous pasts. Similarly, archaeological frameworks like acculturation and hybridity have problematically positioned changes and continuities in Indigenous material cultures as proxies of cultural identity, together perpetuating ‘Vanishing Indian’ narratives that further dispossess contemporary Indigenous peoples of their lands and histories. The concept of survivance, however, counters these narratives, rejecting simple change-continuity dichotomies and the use of material culture as a proxy for identity, foregrounding Indigenous perspectives, and reframing heritage as intangible and active. This paper explores how survivance can bridge heritage and archaeological discourse towards a more decolonised study of the past, exemplified by recent representations of Mashantucket Pequot survivance histories in museum and archaeological spaces.



indigeneity, North America, identity, survivance

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Rethinking the Archaeology–Heritage Divide

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