ABSTRACT

An aggregation is a collection of diverse components, such as a group of households, lineages, clans, or members of different ethnic groups. From an ecological perspective, an aggregation is a spatial arrangement of individuals within a species that is more concentrated and more clustered than a random dispersion. This chapter considers the role of Cherokee public structures (known as townhouses) as an “architecture of aggregation” for Cherokee towns in the southeastern United States. The period considered spans the centuries just before and after European contact, from the fi fteenth through early eighteenth centuries AD (Figure 9.1; Boulware 2011; Dickens 1976, 1979, 1986; Goodwin 1977; Hatley 1993; Keel 1976; Marcoux 2010; Schroedl 2000, 2001, 2009). Townhouses were landmarks for towns (Schroedl 1978, 1986a; Smith 1979), they connected Cherokee towns to particular points within the southern Appalachian landscape (Riggs 2008; Rodning 2002b, 2010a), they created public spaces shared by local members of different clans and households, and they manifested community spaces in which the living and the dead-or, alternatively, descendants and ancestors within specifi c towns-were connected with one other (Rodning 2001b, 2011b). The shapes and sizes of Cherokee towns varied according to local topography and the numbers of households (from 10 to 60) and people (between 100 and 600) in them (Schroedl 2000), but within each Cherokee town was a townhouse that linked local households together as a community (Riggs 2008: 3). Cherokee towns were composed of matrilocal households, whose core members were members of one of seven matrilineal Cherokee clans (Gilbert 1937, 1943; Mooney 1900: 212-213; Perdue 1998: 41-59). Cherokee townhouses and adjacent plazas created spaces for public life within a community composed of people from many different clans and many different households (Gearing 1958, 1962; Persico 1979; Schroedl 1978). Townhouses as an architectural form were both permanent and portable, in that they rooted towns to specifi c points on the landscape, but when towns moved, they could anchor themselves to new places by building new townhouses.