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Cartwright, Carol Lohry; Shaffer, Scott; Waller, Randal / City on the Rock River : chapters in Janesville's history

1. Prehistoric and historic Native American occupation,   pp. 1-42

Page 36

As described in the accounts above, the early settlers were fearful of the American Indians. In
contrast to this fear was an inclination toward cooperation and compassion for their current
situation. The impact of the Euro-American settlers on the American Indians in the Janesville
area is difficult to assess. However, as the interaction between American Indians and settlers
intensified with the settlement of southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois, the resulting
acculturation was generally detrimental to the natives. Acculturation can be described as those
phenomena that result when groups of individuals having different cultures come into
continuous firsthand contact, with subsequent changes in the original culture patterns of either
or both of the groups (Redfield, Linton, and Herskovitz 1936:146-150). The study of material
culture may produce a rough measure of the degree of acculturation that has occurred (Brian
1979:270-274). However, differences in material culture do not reflect the whole process of
change. Interpretation of some of the processes of change requires the identification and
measure not only of material culture traits, but also of their integration and context within the
cultural system (Redfield, Linton, and Herskovitz 1936). These difficulties of integration and
context are archeological problems. The best way for them to be explored is within the
conceptual framework of ethnohistoric archeology.
Potential Associated Site Types
Early Janesville settlers have left a written record of their interaction with the local American
Indians. Many of these encounters would have left no distinct archeological evidence. The
accounts, however, describe portions of an overall process of cultural contact and change.
Archeological sites associated with these accounts might shed some light on local and regional
acculturation processes. As in all urban areas, the development of Janesville has probably
obliterated any cultural resources associated with the contact between American Indians and
settlers. Documented sites include settlers' cabins (important for their association with
American Indian groups both threatening and beneficial) and American Indian trails and paths
(described above in "American Indian Transportation Routes"). Undocumented sites may exist
in the form of American Indian village or camp locations.
The historic contexts for Janesville were developed on the basis of background information
drawn from a wide range of sources. Future research may not agree with present interpretations.
In fact, it is expected that the historic context overviews will be refined, modified, added to,
and elaborated on whenever additional cultural resources research is undertaken. Little new
information came to light during the research associated with several of the contexts in this
chapter. Due to this, several of the existing contexts have been little altered. Additionally,
the contexts are not a comprehensive synthesis of southeast Wisconsin history. Such works
already exist and are readily available to preservation planners as well as the general public.
The contexts outlined in this chapter focus on events taking place in and around the area that
would later develop into the City of Janesville.
Prehistoric and Historic Native American Occupation

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