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Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program



Fiona Marshall, David L. Browman, Wayne D. Fields, D. Tab Rasmussen, Bonnie W. Styles, Patty Jo Watson, Alison Wylie


English (en)

Date of Award


Degree Type

Restricted Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


This study contributes to current understanding regarding Mississippian political economy of the Cahokia chiefdom by integrating the study of food provisioning into the larger body of literature about socio-political mechanisms of control. I studied zooarchaeological materials from five areas of Cahokia and from five sites located in the surrounding American Bottom region of the central Mississippi river floodplain. I used two methods, deer body part distribution and taxonomic diversity, to identify provisioning strategies within and between sites. In this study I found deer assemblages recovered from Cahokia are quite different from those at outlying American Bottom sites during the late Emergent Mississippian (A.D. 900-1050) and initial Mississippian, Lohmann phase (A.D. 1050-1100). Proportionately more deer remains and higher food utility elements are present at Cahokia. However, there is little zooarchaeological data that supports a tributary system of enforced appropriation from hinterland settlements by the elite. I propose, instead, based on evidence from the sub-Mound 51 assemblage at Cahokia, that deer hunting may have been ritually regulated by the higher ranked segment of Cahokia's population. I argue that leaders at Cahokia were not overtly exploitative or dominant. I suggest that they were in charge of certain ritual aspects of the society that included the provisioning of some food items, particularly deer, to ritual participants. I believe large public feasting events at Cahokia provided a mechanism for integration and coordination between the center and outlying communities. My model of food provisioning of the Cahokia site draws attention away from the extremes characterized in current debates about Cahokia's political economy to a more central position, and one more in line with the community-based manner in which many Native American societies function.


Permanent URL: Print version available in library catalog at Call #: LD5791.8.PhD2000 K49

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