Skip to main content




Office: 07 Smith Bldg.

Area of Interest: Archaeology and ethnohistory of colonial contexts, archaeobotany of Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic Indian communities, perceptions of stability and change, public archaeology, geospatial analysis

Education: Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2015.

Research & Activities:

I use archaeology and ethnohistory to examine the everyday implications of political and economic strategies used by indigenous polities working to maintain sovereignty in colonial contexts. In doing so, I highlight infrastructures and value orientations that enabled and gave purpose to ways of being in the world that were variously challenged and re-enforced by colonial interactions.

Most recently, I have examined how serving as auxiliaries for the English colonies affected the daily lives of members of the Catawba Indian Nation in the mid-eighteenth century. By spurring both the incorporation of refugees and the aggregation of villages, this strategy bolstered the political and military strength of this relatively small polity. It also led to changes in the conditions of daily life. Foodways data provide a means of understanding how Catawba women, in particular, organized their activities during this period. I hope to continue my research in this area by doing work at sites in the lower Catawba valley that date to the height of the Indian slave trade (ca. 1670-1720), a particularly turbulent period for Southeastern Indian communities.

Selected Publications:

Forthcoming, 2017   Fit for War: Sustenance and Order in the Mid-18th Century Catawba Nation. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.

2015   The Indian Slave Trade and Catawba History. In: Marshall, L.W. (ed.) The Archaeology of Slavery: A Comparative Approach to Captivity and Coercion. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.

2009   (with Charles L. Heath) “Indians Refusing to Carry Burdens”: Understanding the Success of Catawba Political, Military, and Settlement Strategies in Colonial Carolina. IN Mapping the Mississippian Shatter Zone: The Colonial Indian Slave Trade and Regional Instability in the American South, edited by Robbie Ethridge and Sheri Shuck-Hall. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

2006   Mapping Catawba Coalescence. North Carolina Archaeology 55:1-59.

Related Links: <a href=>Mary Beth Fitts’ Web Page</a>