Stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to central Canada, North America's great interior grasslands were home to nomadic hunters and semisedentary farmers for almost 11,500 years before the arrival of Euro-American settlers. Pan-continental trade between these hunters and horticulturists helped make the lifeways of Plains Indians among the richest and most colorful of Native Americans.
This volume is the first attempt to synthesize current knowledge on the cultural history of the Great Plains since Wedel's Prehistoric Man on the Great Plains became the standard reference on the subject almost forty years ago. Fourteen authors have undertaken the task of examining archaeological phenomena through time and by region to present a systematic overview of the region's human history. Focusing on habitat and cultural diversity and on the changing archaeological record, they reconstruct how people responded to the varying environment, climate, and biota of the grasslands to acquire the resources they needed to survive.
The contributors have analyzed archaeological artifacts and other evidence to present a systematic overview of human history in each of the five key Plains regions: Southern, Central, Middle Missouri, Northeastern, and Northwestern. They review the Paleo-Indian, Archaic, Woodland, and Plains Village peoples and tell how their cultural traditions have continued from ancient to modern times. Each essay covers technology, diet, settlement, and adaptive patterns to give readers an understanding of the differences and similarities among groups. The story of Plains peoples is brought into historical focus by showing the impacts of Euro-American contact, notably acquisition of the horse and exposure to new diseases.
Featuring 85 maps and illustrations, Archaeology on the Great Plains is an exceptional introduction to the field for students and an indispensable reference for specialists. It enhances our understanding of how the Plains shaped the adaptive strategies of peoples through time and fosters a greater appreciation for their cultures.