Date of Award

December 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Robert J. Jeske

Committee Members

Robert F. Sasso, Jean Hudson, Patricia Richards, Brian Nicholls


Agriculture, Canine Surrogacy Approach, Dietary Isotopes, Oneota, Paleoethnobotany, Upper Misissippian


The goal of this research is to investigate the nature of Upper Mississippian subsistence systems (circa AD 1050-1450), to evaluate the role of agriculture, and to understand how these dietary choices are related to risk management systems and the development of cultural complexity in the Midcontinent. The research uses the Koshkonong Locality of southeastern Wisconsin as a case study and compares it to other Upper Mississippian groups throughout Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois, Middle Mississippian groups in Illinois and southeastern Wisconsin, and contemporaneous Late Woodland groups in southeastern Wisconsin.

This study uses two primary lines of evidence; macrobotanical remains and dietary isotopes (δ13C and δ15N) from dogs. The dog values are interpreted as proxies for human food consumption though the lens of the canine surrogacy approach (CSA). Regionally, the data indicate maize was foundational to all examined Upper and Middle Mississippian populations, Upper Mississippians distributed food more equitably than Middle Mississippians, and each Upper Mississippian locality buffered maize in a unique manner. Locally, the data indicate that the Koshkonong residents were under stress from structural violence and that intralocality cooperation would have been essential for the subsistence system to have functioned effectively.