Social Networks and Northern Iroquoian Confederacy Dynamics

TitleSocial Networks and Northern Iroquoian Confederacy Dynamics
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsBirch, J, Hart, JP
JournalAmerican Antiquity
Start Page13
Date Published01/2018
Keywordsconfederacy, Haudenosaunee, Iroquoians, pottery decoration, social capital, Social network analysis, Wendat

The Wendat (Huron) and Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) confederacies of northeastern North America are often presented as functionally equivalent political formations despite their having distinct cultural traits and unique geopolitical and developmental histories. In this article we employ social network analysis of collar decoration on ceramic vessels both to examine organizational differences in the social network that composed each group and to evaluate women’s participation in political activities as potters who produced and transmitted social and political signals. The concept of social capital and the dimensions along which it varies are employed to understand variability in network statistics and topologies. Our results indicate that the Wendat confederacy formed a “complete” network characterized by bonding ties of social capital, whereas the Haudenosaunee confederacy was a “coalitional” network characterized by bridging ties. The results suggest that women’s signaling networks were integral to how each confederacy functioned and the norms of reciprocity, trust, and information-sharing that defined each political formation.

Short TitleAm. Antiq.