In this section, the mortuary complex at the Fredricks site will be discussed as it reflects the organization of late seventeenth-century Siouan Indian society and the processes of prehistoric-to-historic culture change. Comparative data will be presented from the archaeological and ethnohistoric records to reconstruct changing mortuary patterns of Siouan peoples as well as those of neighboring groups.
Mortuary practices at Siouan sites occupied during the Late Prehistoric and early Historic periods will be compared with the mortuary pattern at the Fredricks site to elucidate temporal changes in spatial organization, burial pit morphology, and grave associations. Finally, questions concerning Indian-colonial interaction and acculturation will be addressed in the context of the Fredricks site mortuary complex.
The Occaneechis were very influential in the development of Siouan societies during the Historic period. They occupied a strategic position in a trade network that was comprised of Native American and colonial groups. It is probable that their prominence in this network was established early in the Historic period because of pre-existing ties and relationships with groups to the north. The Susquehannocks, for example, seem to have been at least partially responsible for the development of the Occaneechis as a major link in the Virginia-Carolina trading system. As the intensity of colonial influence increased during the latter part of the seventeenth century, the Occaneechis, as with other interior tribes, had to cope with depopulation and other consequences of the colonial expansion. Social and cultural adjustments should be reflected in Siouan mortuary practices.