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Investigations at the Native American site complex of Stark Farms in Mississippi, USA, have yielded numerous examples of metal artifacts of European origin. Our study suggests that they derive from contact between the AD 1540–1541 winter encampment of the Spanish Hernando de Soto expedition and the local Indigenous polity. The artifacts display a wide range of modifications, uses, and depositional contexts congruent with hybrid practices. We argue that the early colonial setting of Stark Farms requires a different perspective on cultural mixing than is often applied in studies of European colonialism. This is highlighted by the strongly improvisational nature of the modification of the metal objects, embodying a political climate in which European incursions were precarious and in which hybridity and power were heterogeneous and fluid.

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