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Cultural and material remains of the Chiricahua Apache

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Site layout and architecture.
    1. Disconcerting situation for the ethnoarchaeologist.
    2. Survey of a recently abandoned site area.
    3. Opportunity for overestimation.
    4. The most extensive peripheral site.
    5. Temporary aggregation of hunter-gatherer bands during regular ceremonies.
  3. Plant and animal remains.
    1. The core activity for any adult Chiricahua.
    2. The seasonal round of the Chiricahua Apache.
    3. The middens piles as a critical location for faunal data.
    4. Understanding the importance of deer to the Chiricahua through archaeology.
  4. Other material culture.
    1. Vast majority of stone weapons scavenged from ancient Pueblo sites.
    2. Finds of broken or accidentally abandoned household items.
    3. The possessions of the dead.
  5. Exclusively ethnographic data.
  6. Conclusion.

The Chiricahua Apache, prior to forced displacement, occupied a broad swath of land surrounding the modern nexus of New Mexico, Arizona, Sonora, and Chihuahua. This traditional territory offered a spectrum of natural environments that varied from mountainous regions to desert environments to forested areas. The land provided adequate resources for pursuit of a hunting and gathering lifeway which continued until the major incursions of settlers in the late 1800s. Per anthropologist Morris Opler, the Chiricahua could be classified within the geographical groupings of a Southern Band, Eastern Band, and Central Band, but these groups were unified by a common culture and language, with an internal recognition of their tribal sameness (Opler 1-2).

[...] Wild plants provide the bulk of the Chiricahua diet and thus possess a strong cultural significance. Opler remarks that preoccupation with the growth of wild plants is reflected in the attitude toward the seasons and in the names of the principal time periods. Besides the four seasons, six time periods, beginning with the first signs of spring, divide the year? (Opler 354). These time periods are often given names suggestive of the season's floral condition, such as ?Large Fruit? and ?Many Leaves? (Opler 355). [...]

[...] With absolutely no evidence of cattle herding among the Apache tribes, the ethnoarchaeologist can validly ascribe the presence of livestock to Chiricahua raiding, warfare, or trade with surrounding communities of agriculturalists and herders. There would thus be an expected correlation in cattle skeleton prevalence and camp site proximity to Mexican settlements. In addition, increases in cattle bone finds would be expected in winter camps, as the winter months were those least rich in readily available resources and when reliance on outside contacts would be most essential. [...]

[...] PLANT AND ANIMAL REMAINS The core activity for any adult Chiricahua is the acquisition and utilization of food resources. With the obvious need for a constant supply of provisions in order to preserve the band's sustainability, the movement of a central encampment most often occurs as a means of gaining proximity to a seasonal or mobile resource. Since the changing floral and faunal landscape can generally be associated with seasonal change, any material evidence of hunted or gathered resources can help to illuminate Chiricahua economic decisions and their migration strategies. [...]

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