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Archaeological roots of traditional land use and resistance to Spanish colonial entanglement on Guam

by Mark Horrocks last modified 2019-10-28 09:31 AM

Dixon B, Welch D, Bulgrin L, Horrocks M. In press. Asian Perspectives.

Abstract

Documenting the continuity of traditional land use practices on Guam, from before Spanish Contact in 1521 to after the Colonial La Reducción circa 1700, is provocative. La Reducción refers to a period after Spanish settlement in 1668 when all indigenous inhabitants on northern Guam were militarily removed from their traditional homes into six southern villages under the watchful eye of administrative and religious authorities. Recent archaeological excavations at Site 66-08-0141, located on the northern plateau in South Finegayan, have exposed traditional Micronesian earth ovens associated with at least two latte sets or pre-Contact habitations also post-dating Spanish settlement.

Geoarchaeological investigation of approximately 70 square meters around the main habitation included three radiocarbon dates from stratigraphic columns through the largest cooking feature to subsoil at a depth of 1.25 meters. Excavations of 55 square meters around the remains of the smaller habitation exposed two additional cooking ovens situated nearby that were also radiocarbon dated, with all three features containing microfossil evidence of pollen, phytoliths, and starch residue in the soils and on burned ceramic sherds. Artifacts included Latte Period pottery, marine shell adzes, a limestone sling stone, and historic to modern refuse from WWII to the modern era. Microfossil evidence of pandanus, coconuts, and likely cultivation of rice and taro have expanded our understanding of subsistence farming in micro-environments within the tropical forest a generation or more after 1700 and La Reducción. This body of evidence suggests that land use studies of indigenous resistance and accommodation to Spanish Colonial entanglement, while challenging to prior historiography across the Pacific, hold much potential to bring native voices to early communities long disenfranchised by the colonization experience.

Key Words

Guam, Spanish Contact, La Reducción, entanglement.
 

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