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Previous Efforts to Build Glass Trade Bead Chronologies For Eastern Woodlands archaeologists, glass trade beads are among the small suite of artifacts that mark the watershed moment when Europeans first came into contact with Indian groups living in eastern North America.
Indeed, it is widely known that glass beads accompanied Columbus on his first voyage to the New World and continued to be an integral part of Native American material culture assemblages well into the nineteenth century (Good 1983; Smith and Good 1982).
The bead assemblage has contributed to the initial definition of a complex temporal and cultural horizon marker dating from 1829 to 1860 for the Pacific Northwest, and provides insights into mid-19th-century Native-American and Euro American bead preferences.
Analysis of the assemblage demonstrates difficulties inherent in the existing archaeological bead classification system, and suggestions for revisions are discussed.
Archaeology has great potential to address how this tumultuous period played out among the untold number of historically undocumented Indian communities across the Southeast, but in order to do this, we must first create reliable ways of estimating the dates of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century occupations (e.g., Smith 1983, 1987; Waselkov 1989).