Ashley Ann Dumas
Grant TypePost PhD Research Grant
Institutional AffiliationWest Alabama, U. of
Grant numberGr. 10264
Approve DateApril 13, 2022
Project TitleDumas, Ashley (West Alabama, U. of) "Native American Responses to Spanish Entradas in the American Southeast"
In 1539, Hernando de Soto and 600 soldiers landed in La Florida and marched north, becoming the first Europeans to penetrate the interior Southeast. They encountered thousands of Indigenous peoples, from whom they extracted food and slaves. After a year, Soto entered the Black Prairie of present-day Alabama, where he met resistance from an Indigenous polity called Mabila. Unlike the hierarchical chiefdoms of a few generations earlier, Mabila was a disperse set of communities, whose people had recently migrated from other regions to coalesce in an unfamiliar landscape. The reasons are unclear, as is their response to the Spanish entrada, but recent survey has identified three sites that can elucidate: one pre-dating Soto; one established shortly afterward then quickly abandoned; and one contemporary with Soto that served as a coalescent community for generations afterward. The latter two have 16th-century Spanish iron, and the ceramics from all reflect Indigenous cosmology. Excavations of sealed contexts at each site will produce fine-grained ceramic, faunal, and botanical evidence for understanding how an already hybrid society acted in unity against cataclysmic incursion of alien people and materials, how they chose to integrate those objects, and the resulting social reorganization that lasted into the next century.