Research

My research has been supported financially by the UCLA Unit 18 Faculty Professional Development Fund, the CAPES Foundation (Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel), the CNPq Foundation (Brazilian National Council of Technological and Scientific Development), and the FAPERGS Foundation (Foundation for Research Support of Rio Grande do Sul), among others. Thus, I am currently an honorary fellow in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

My research also won several paper awards: two Midwest Archaeological Conference Student Paper Competition Awards, the Graduate Women in Science Seminar Competition Award, and the Outstanding Paper Award at the Porto-Alegrense College’s Demonstration of Scientific Research.

Indigenous Collaboration, First Foods, and Cultural Resource Management at Indian Creek

The project is developed in partnership with the Kalispel Tribe of Indians, the Washington State University Department of Anthropology, and Far Western Anthropological Research Group. It is located in the Kalispel homelands in Pend Oreille County, Washington State. The Kalispel’s Indian Creek Forest is a deeply special landscape that is a center of education and recreation, as well as a center point for the Tribe’s environmental management and ecological restoration efforts, as detailed in a recent feature by Sustainable Northwest.

The aim is to develop a collaborative research model that incorporates Tribal values and needs, while also training students to work for and with Indigenous communities, to better understand the context of their work. In addition to learning about Tribal history and culture, the research helps to document Kalispel land use and foodways at the Indian Creek site through the excavation of numerous earth oven features containing fire-cracked rock. Initial radiocarbon dating of cores at these features suggests that they were used over a span of 5000 years.

The fieldwork has been featured in the news, such as in the KHQ News, The Spokesman-Review, Spokane Public Radio, KREM News, WSU Insider, and KIRO 7 News.

Indigenous Archaeology, Memory, and Ethnoarchaeology: Multivocal Project in Collaboration with the Guarani for Land Repatriation in Brazil

The Technical Group was established by FUNAI (National Indian Foundation), a Brazilian governmental agency responsible for protecting the interests, cultures, and rights of Brazilian indigenous populations. The project consists of an interdisciplinary team (archaeologists, cultural anthropologists, historians, zoologists, biologists, and geographers) working in collaboration with Guarani communities toward the registration of indigenous lands for federal reservation-status protection. The project’s planning and fieldwork were carried out with the participation of the Guarani and their memory, oral traditions, perspectives, and interpretations were incorporated into the reports produced in support of a legal claim to their territory.

Meetings with Guarani representatives and activities with children at their reservation.

The Guarani were forcefully removed from the area in the 1970s during the Brazilian military dictatorship period. We walked with them in the land where they once lived, and it was the first time the Guarani were legally allowed to enter the area since their expulsion. Our archaeological, ethnographic, historic, and environmental data are being used in an application for their land repatriation and to establish boundaries for a future reservation.

Furthermore, I am also studying Guarani lithic technology from Pre-European Contact sites in the same region. While much Guarani research has focused on pottery analysis, their lithic production has been understudied by comparison. These projects are contributing to a better understanding of Guarani identity, memory, material culture, and ways of life, or what they refer to as Ñandé Rekó (the way of being Guarani).

Native American Resilience and Cuisine: Human-Environmental Interactions in the Great Lakes Region

Me and Anishinaabe named Dolores, who performs a blessing ceremony before every fieldwork begins on Grand Island, Michigan.

My research is investigating human-environmental interactions in the Great Lakes region and how Late Archaic (c. 5000-2000 BP) people made decisions related to mobility, domestic life, and foodways on Grand Island, Michigan, where I co-directed excavations and worked in collaboration with Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) peoples. I analyzed approximately 40,000 pieces of chipped stone, ground stone, and fire-cracked rock (FCR), and I conducted geospatial analysis. Seasonality was determined through fauna, flora, and lipid residue analyses. Lipid residues were extracted from FCR samples, which showed that they were used to cook acorns. My use-alteration analysis of FCR indicates the use of stone boiling, earth oven, and rock griddle cooking facilities on Grand Island to process foods communally in relatively large scales.

My study demonstrates that Grand Island represented an important place on the landscape for the Late Archaic peoples who repeatedly utilized the island for fall social aggregations, particularly to harvest and process acorns and fall spawning fish species. Throughout almost the entire history of Native American occupation in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan groups regularly moved to obtain the seasonally available foods (e.g., acorns, fish) and other resources that were unevenly distributed across the landscape. The mobility of these populations is characteristic of people who lived entirely on wild foods (gatherers, hunters, fishers). So successful was this lifestyle that many native groups remained fairly mobile as hunter–gatherers well into the nineteenth century.

Book: Fire-Cracked Rock Analysis

I am currently writing a book as sole author titled Fire-Cracked Rock Analysis that will be the first-ever manual for the study of fire-cracked rocks (FCR), one of the most ubiquitous yet understudied classes of artifacts worldwide. The book is under contract with Springer for their series Manuals in Archaeological Method, Theory and Technique and will focus on the ways practicing archaeologists can infer function from their FCR collections, spanning from paleoanthropology and the early adoption of fire through to present archaeology.

It will target a wide global audience and serve as a laboratory and field guide for students and professionals, packed with illustrations and photographs in order to familiarize readers with the identification and analysis process while also providing a theoretical and methodological guide for advanced academic and cultural resource management research.

Gender, Violence and Warfare in the Past: An Ethnohistoric, Ethnographic and Archaeological Study

Nam Kim and I in Madison (2019).

I am an Honorary Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Nam C. Kim (UW-Madison) and I are collaborating on this project investigating the understudied relationship between children, women and violence across time and space through multidisciplinary research that incorporates perspectives of ethnohistory, ethnography, and archaeology. While adult male combatants have traditionally been the focus of discussions involving warfare or periods of prolonged violence, our collaborative research broadens the conversation to include children and women, who have received little scholarly attention in this light.

Studying the social construct of gender and its relationship to violent practices allows us to question how certain beliefs and practices impact daily lifeways. By considering warfare’s range of social variation, we appreciate the diversity of ways in which communities throughout the history of humanity have viewed and used violence, and its potential interconnections with race, ethnicity, and class, as well as with ritual, ideology, and other cultural practices and performances.

View our edited volume on the archaeology of violence and warfare here.

The Initial Peopling of South America: Technological, Domestic, and Sociocultural Contexts of the First Inhabitants of Southern Brazil

My project investigates the initial peopling of southern Brazil with the purpose of elaborating an archaeological model for South America that incorporates Brazilian archaeological data into discussions of the decisions and dynamics driving migrational movements and occupations. Its aim is to:

1) develop a model for analyzing the production of projectile points that differentiate three main levels of skill and technological knowledge: initial apprentices, advanced apprentices, and specialists;

2) analyze and conduct experiments with fire-cracked rocks – which are abundantly found in prehistoric sites around the world, but understudied – in order to investigate their association with areas of combustion and to test the hypothesis that they were used primarily in food processing.

The goal of these studies is to produce models of analysis that can be used in archaeological sites around the world where projectile points and fire-cracked rocks are found in abundance. By isolating the formal artifacts produced by specialists, we can study the technological sequence of projectile point production as well as regional and temporal variations, which can serve as a model for comparative studies with other early hunter-gatherer settlement sites in South America. Such comparisons are key to understanding the migrational movements and the technological, domestic, and sociocultural contexts of the first inhabitants of South America, and how the initial peopling of the continent took place.

Sacred Cuisine: Native American Culinary Practices and Identity in Central Coastal Peru

This project investigates Peruvian ceramic cooking vessels from huaca burial mounds that were excavated in 1925 by Alfred Kroeber. The excavations were carried out on behalf of the Chicago Field Museum, where the materials are still curated today. The mortuary cuisine from the Lower Chillón Valley, central coastal Peru, is represented in food offerings accompanied by the cookware used to prepare and serve funerary and sacrificial rituals.

Archaeologists have long been concerned with the study of ancient foodways and diet, and have devised powerful methodological and technological advances toward their study. Researchers have traditionally tended to focus on the large-scale impact of changing nutritional demands of groups. The effects of nutritional stress and finding new ways to meet nutritional demands were a major consideration of ancient polities, but their study on such a large scale has overshadowed the equally important social relevance of food and cooking at the human or household scale. Following the theoretical shift toward agent-oriented interpretations, scholars of the past decades have moved toward viewing household scale interaction as an important unit of society where life was acted out and social meanings were expressed. In the household arena, food becomes a means for the expression of values that are often invisible in other mediums. My research places the cooking pot at the center of an investigation into identities from the perspective of foodways.