Date of Award

Summer 2019

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Joshua Haynes

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Kyle Zelner

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Max Grivno

Committee Member 3 School



A small portion of the regional literature details the impact of horses on Southeastern Native nations and focuses on a few of the larger groups, particularly the Choctaw, from the mid-eighteenth to the nineteenth century. This thesis intends to increase the scope to analyze the entire Southeastern region, as well as multiple Native nations in the area. The thesis argues that Southeastern Natives slowly adopted horses into their economies and cultures over a longer period of time than previously believed, allowing them to increase their use of horses easily to meet market demands. Instead of southeastern nations rapidly adapting their lives around horses after being introduced into a colonial economy, this research shows these Native groups were already familiar with horses and began to shape their culture around them by associating them with prestige, using them for hunting, and adopting them into important community ceremonies. Southeastern Indian groups assigned horses cultural value as prestige goods in the late seventeenth century, and increasingly assigned them economic value as beasts of burden, gradually increasing their use of horses throughout the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries as demand for the animals increased for both Natives and colonists. The argument relies on documentary evidence from European perspectives but also utilizes archaeological evidence and Native records to include Native voices in their own history. The thesis will help to fill a large gap in the historiography of the southeastern nations’ market and cultural relationships with horses.