While the ostensible motivation for Spanish missionization in the Americas was religious conversion, missions were also critical to the expansion of European economic institutions in the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries. Native American labor in mission contexts was recruited in support of broader programs of colonialism, mercantilism, and resource extraction. Archaeological research throughout North America demonstrates the importance and extent of the integration of Native labor into regional colonial economies. Animals and animal products were often important commodities within colonialperiod regional exchange networks and thus, zooarchaeological data can be crucial to the reconstruction of local economic practices that linked Native labor to larger-scale economic processes. Zooarchaeological remains from two Spanish missions-one in southern Arizona and one in northern Sonora-demonstrate that Native labor supported broader colonial economic processes through the production of animal products such as tallow and hide. Tallow rendered at Mission San Agustín de Tucson and Mission Nuestra Señora del Pilar y Santiago de Cocóspera was vital for mining activities in the region, which served as an important wealth base for the continued development of Spanish colonialism in the Americas. This research also demonstrates continuity in rendering practices over millennia of human history, and across diverse geographical regions, permitting formalization of a set of expectations for identifying tallow-rendered assemblages, regardless of context.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)