Award Date

May 2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Liam Frink

Second Committee Member

Debra Martin

Third Committee Member

Karen Harry

Fourth Committee Member

William Bauer

Number of Pages



This study is a deep historic-archaeological investigation on how and why weapon systems (Indigenous, colonial and/or hybrid) are chosen, resisted, modified, used, and/or abandoned. Through archival meta-analysis, I seek to provide ethnohistoric context on how weapons were used in symbolic communication to either reproduce or resist supposed legitimacy in borderlands. I apply this framework to a case study investigating conflicts and negotiations among the Lower Colorado River Basin Indigenous Yuman groups (i.e., Quechan, Mohave, Cocopa, and Maricopa) from 1780 to 1857. Specifically, I examine why these Yuman speakers seemed to prefer fighting on foot with their Indigenous weaponry during regional battles instead of using Spanish and then Anglo-American guns and horses as cavalry. This study seeks to address questions of how Indigenous weapons were made, how were they used, and why they continued to be used until 1857. By exploring the complexities behind why and how the Yuman peoples maintained traditional weapons systems over 300 years, this study will add to the growing literature that complicates the post-contact interactions of Indigenous people with colonial materials and technologies prior to colonial settlement.


California; Conflict; Experimental archaeology; Sociotechnical systems; Southwest; Warfare


Archaeological Anthropology | Native American Studies

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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