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The Archaeological Imprint of Oral Traditions on the Landscape of Northern Plains Hunter-Gatherers

Gerald A. Oetelaar

in The Oxford Handbook of North American Archaeology

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780195380118
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195380118.013.0028

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 The Archaeological Imprint of Oral Traditions on the Landscape of Northern Plains Hunter-Gatherers

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On the Northern Plains of North America, archaeological models of settlement systems are generally based on the ecology and behavior of bison. The annual subsistence round is often described in terms of the seasonal migrations of bison, from wintering grounds in the sheltered valleys of the foothills to summer pastures on the open grasslands. Even though the bison herds migrate across extensive tracts, the territories of the human groups are limited by the distribution of critical resources and by the prevailing mode of transportation. Bison-herding behavior also accounts for seasonal patterns of human aggregation and dispersal, whereas topography, vegetation, and distance to fuel and water explain where people camp during their annual forays across the Northern Plains. Although researchers now use GIS to develop sophisticated predictive models of site location, they still rely on the same suite of ecological variables to model human behavior.

Keywords: oral traditions; archaeological models; settlement systems; seasonal migrations; bison; Northern Plains

Article.  4110 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Archaeology of North America

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