Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Applied Archaeology



First Reader/Committee Chair

Hepp, Guy


In this thesis, I examine the procurement, manufacturing process, and subsequent distribution of cultural greenstone artifacts, historically referred to as green slate, in the Mojave Desert of southeastern California from a landscape-level framework. The San Bernardino County Museum (museum) curates a collection of incised and blank green slate artifacts (n=51) from numerous archaeological sites in the study region. These cultural materials were uncovered together in a box during routine inventory. As part of this thesis, I catalogued, rehoused, and remarried the collection with each artifact’s respective site assemblage in consultation with San Manuel Band of Mission Indians (SMBMI) in order to accommodate and respect cultural protocols. I conducted X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis on the collection, and the results demonstrated that at least 92% of the collection was procured from the same quarry source. The other 8% of the collection contains significant differences in the principle and trace elements. Additionally, I produced a heat map of green slate distribution, which highlighted a north-south linear trend throughout the ancestral territories of the Serrano, Kawaiisu, Southern Paiute, and Western Shoshone. Four main concentrations are evident along the 150-mile green slate corridor in mountainous regions of the Mojave Desert. The geochemical and spatial analyses provide evidence for the movement of green slate through inter-community exchange of material goods. The green slate distribution illuminates a precontact and ethnohistoric trade route, which followed the Mojave River and other water sources. I argue that green slate supported the extensive Mojave Desert trade network as a culturally significant material used for inter-community exchange. Additionally, I argue that Native American communities created a community of practice for green slate production, which contributed to its cultural significance.