Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Kandance D. Hollenbach

Committee Members

Kandace D. Hollenbach, David G. Anderson, Giovanna M. Vidoli


This thesis focuses on the paleoethnobotanical remains of the Pigeon phase village component of the Magic Waters site, 31JK291. The Pigeon phase represented the early Middle Woodland period in the western North Carolina region and spans from approximately 200 BC to AD 200, situated in between the earlier Swannanoa phase (1000 BC to 200 BC) and the later Connestee phase (AD 200 to AD 800; Ward and Davis 1999). The site of Magic Waters is located adjacent to Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Hotel in Cherokee, Jackson County, North Carolina, among the Blue Ridge ecoregion of the Appalachian Summit. The site was excavated in October 2017 through July 2018 by TRC Environmental Corporation and was overseen by the Tribal Historic Preservation Office of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Sixteen overlapping structures were revealed that would suggest at least two occupational periods; these structures are the first confirmed Pigeon phase structures in western North Carolina. This makes Magic Waters not only the first isolated Pigeon component, but also the first Pigeon village to be excavated. I will use paleoethnobotanical and statistical analyses to characterize the contents and usage of the varying pit features with comparisons to other Middle Woodland period sites with Pigeon components, as well as Swannanoa and Connestee sites to situate the site and Pigeon phase within western North Carolina Woodland history. Through a historical ecological lens that emphasizes the role of the ancestral Tsalagi women and their relationship to the agentive environment, I will interpret the quantitative results using indigenous literature and scholarship as well as Henri Lefebvre’s (2014) concept of “rhythmanalysis”.

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