By Diana Dipaolo Loren
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Extra resources for The Archaeology of Clothing and Bodily Adornment in Colonial America: The American Experience in Archaeological Perspective
Fur trappers (coureurs de bois) in the French colonies and leatherstockings in present-day upstate New York wore a pastiche of different fashions that spoke to their identity as intermediaries between European and Native communities (Baumgarten 2002:65–66; Loren 2001a, 2001b; Shannon 1996). The practice of mixing different fashions was not unique to these frontier individuals. Even military figures from various colonies adopted some of the fashions of Native peoples. One example can be found in the writings of Fray Juan Agustín de Morfí, who described the dress of French, Spanish, and Native peoples living along the LouisianaTexas border in the late 1700s: Most of the traders can scarcely be distinguished from the Indians.
He has long left off the dress of a savage, and he takes pride [in] appearing always well-dressed, according to our fashion” (Swanton 1911:312–313). But in most American colonies, Native peoples were expected to dress according to their own fashions without the finery of elite European clothing. European colonists often reacted with disdain or mistrust when Native peoples donned European-manufactured clothing that was considered to be above their station. Additionally, many European colonists were concerned about the social and behavioral implications of unclothed flesh— that is, sin and barbarism (Loren 2001b, 2007a:96–97).
Such management required the use of material-based categorization that separated metal beads from glass beads, not only physically but also intellectually. Even though our analysis has become more sophisticated since Willoughby’s time, the tendency to understand small finds by categorizing 18 • The Archaeology of Clothing and Bodily Adornment in Colonial America them according to either function (based on assumptions about how an artifact was supposed to be used) or raw material lingers. The set of categories most commonly used is the one developed by Stanley South in the 1970s as part of his effort to systematize how historical archaeologists approached artifact analysis (South 1977).