Archaeology of Colonial Marin

Director: Dr. Tsim Schneider 


With funding from National Science Foundation and American Philosophical Society grants, in this multi-year, collaborative project Dr. Schneider and project Co-Director, Dr. Lee Panich (Santa Clara University), seek to evaluate indigenous autonomy on Central California’s Marin Peninsula, a geographic zone in which indigenous Coast Miwok groups persisted along the intersecting frontiers of Spanish, Russian, Mexican, and American colonialism during the period 1770-1860. It is thought that selective engagement with diverse colonial institutions—including missionary, mercantile, and settler colonial programs—stimulated the development of distinct local political economies, reflecting different levels of situated autonomy for native communities across the peninsula.

With permission from the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria and Audubon Canyon Ranch, two seasons of archaeological fieldwork have already been completed at key sites along Tomales Bay, including the site of a mid-1800s trading post and place of native refuge and recourse. To complement these new excavations, previously excavated materials from additional archaeological sites are being reexamined. The project will ultimately involve (1) ethnohistorical research and oral history interviews with Graton Rancheria Citizens; (2) a large-scale obsidian provenance study and inter-site comparison of other archaeological materials to assess indigenous exchange networks and external economic connections during the colonial era; (3) a rigorous dating program for establishing regional trends in site use and reuse; and (4) a seasonality study to detect small-scale patterns in Coast Miwok mobility.