The organization of migrant communities on a Pueblo frontier

TitleThe organization of migrant communities on a Pueblo frontier
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication1999
AuthorsHerr, S
Academic DepartmentAnthropology
UniversityUniversity of Arizona
KeywordsArizona, Eleventh century, Frontier, Migrant communities, Pueblo, Twelfth century

The Mogollon Rim Region of the eleventh and twelfth centuries presents a contradiction to those who study it. Population reconstructions demonstrate low populations, but the region, situated on the far southwestern edge of the puebloan world, is overbuilt with a form of community integrative architecture called the "great kiva." Situated outside the areas of Southwest archaeology's strong organizations, the region is considered one of archaeology's "weak patterns." "Weak patterns" indicate a lack of normative behavior and are associated with patterns of expediency, diversity, and mobility, and identify regions with alternative forms of social organization, including frontiers.

The frontier can be understood as both a "place" and a "process." This definition provides an analytic bridge between weakly patterned behavioral manifestations and sociopolitical interpretations of areas beyond and between archaeology's strong patterns. It also clarifies the implications of the coincidence of the processes migration, integrative architecture, and situations of low population density. In this dissertation, ethnographic and historical accounts are used to develop a model of the frontier. The frontier situation has an effect on the organization of households and communities. Understanding the relationships of households and communities is a means of reconstructing the social and political organization of a region. The frontier model is operationalized by deriving expectations for household and community production, distribution, transmission, reproduction, and coresidence.

Data from five excavated Mogollon Rim region great kiva sites: Cothrun's Kiva Site, Hough's Great Kiva Site, AZ P:16:160(ASM), Tla Kii Pueblo, and Carter Ranch Pueblo, four management projects, and over 20 surveys provide information about household and community production, distribution, transmission, reproduction, and coresidence. These data are then used to reconstruct the sociopolitical organization of the region as a frontier. Comparison of the material culture of the Mogollon Rim region to that of the three contemporaneous regional organizations of Chaco, Mimbres, and Hohokam suggests that the Mogollon Rim region was a frontier to the Chacoan organization.

This application of a frontier model suggests that is possible to use ethnographic and historical information to construct models that integrate regions of weak patterns and temporary social formations into models of social and political organization.