Solving Archaeological Research Problems in Rocky Mountain and Plains Prehistory

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

Rocky Mountain and Great Plains archaeologists utilize a wide variety of methods to solve research problems in regional prehistory. From lithics to fauna to ethnoarchaeological data and beyond, this symposium highlights current research that advances and solves problems across a wide variety of topics. From the peopling of North America to human adaptation during the altithermal to the rise of agriculture to the complexity of bison hunting, this symposium highlights the diverse state of prehistoric archaeological research in this vast region of the interior of North America.

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  • Documents (16)

  • Addressing Surface Site Palimpsests with GIS and Lithic Technology (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Christopher Merriman. Caroline Gabe.

    Archaeologists contend with palimpsests and multicomponent surface sites on a regular basis. Although it is interesting to know that one spot on the landscape repeatedly attracted people, these sites present interpretive and methodological problems. Specifically, how can we interpret the behaviors behind non-diagnostic artifacts from multicomponent sites? In this presentation we discuss using a combination of GIS modeling and lithic analysis to better articulate the relationship between...

  • The American Falls obsidian source: near, far, or unknown? (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kathryn Harris.

    Harris’ 2011 Master’s thesis sourced obsidian artifacts from the Kyle Canyon Spring site (10-BT-8). Obsidian source characterization suggested a large circulation range for the prehistoric people using site 10-BT-8, with strong emphasis placed on the American Falls obsidian source. This result was unexpected, given that it is 120km from 10-BT-8 and a nearer, arguably higher quality obsidian source is only 50km away. In my thesis, I concluded that the people occupying 10-BT-8 over the last 3,000...

  • Anzick Site Lithics: A Study of Concave Margin Scrapers as an Integral Part of the Clovis Tool Kit (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Samuel White.

    An assemblage of lithic and osseous artifacts, associated with the fragmentary remains of a child was discovered in Montana at the Anzick Site (24PA506). The remains and assemblage, all covered with red ochre, are thought to represent the only known burial from the Clovis Culture. Found on several lithic artifacts in the assemblage are unique flaking patterns which form "margin scrapers", possibly utilized as an integral part of an osseous tool crafting technology overlooked in western Clovis...

  • Archaic Women in the High Country: an Ethnoarchaeological Framework (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Pei-Lin Yu.

    All-male hunting parties of the Middle Holocene are an important concept in the archaeology of America’s western mountains. The dichotomy of later high mountain family villages (repeat occupations of high density and diversity) versus specialized hunting sites and ‘man caves’ (sensu Thomas) are cited to argue that Archaic women never saw, or ventured into, remote high mountain landscapes. Yet the ethnographic literature of mobile foragers contains interesting evidence of women, usually young...

  • The Beaucoup Site: A Bison Kill in Northeastern Montana (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Michael Neeley.

    Communal bison kills are among the most visible archaeological sites in the northwestern plains. They can originate from a variety of hunting practices, including jumps, pounds, corrals, traps, etc. Because of the group nature of the activities, these sites can be rich in archaeologically interpretable materials and behaviors. The Beaucoup site (24PH188/189) is a large Late Prehistoric site on the Milk River in northeastern Montana consisting of a kill, drive lines, cairns, and tipi rings. First...

    DOCUMENT Citation Only Sara Scott.

    Pictograph Cave (24YL0001) located in south-central Montana was excavated by Works Progress Administration (WPA) crews between 1937 and 1941. Excavations extended to depths of 23 feet, yet no radiocarbon dates for the site were available until recently. Efforts to re-catalog and process the artifact collection to professional standards were undertaken along with the creation of three-dimensional models of the excavations rendered from WPA stratigraphy maps. Newly created databases allowed for...

  • Embedded Activities: Preliminary Analysis of Landscape Use and Mobility Patterns in Colorado National Monument (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Lisa Smith. Patricia Stavish. Iraida Rodriguez. Brandon Mauk.

    Ongoing archaeological survey of Colorado National Monument, located on the eastern edge of the Colorado Plateau, reveals that much of the area is a continuous landscape of non-discrete lithic scatters with light to dense concentrations of artifacts. The ephemerality of many of the sites, coupled with their lack of distinct boundaries, poses a challenge for understanding landscape use and mobility patterns of the hunting and gathering people who utilized the area. To circumvent this issue we...

  • Exploring Prehistoric Resource Distribution in the Black Mesa Region: A Plains- Montane Ecotone in Cimarron County, Oklahoma (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Alesha Marcum-Heiman. Leland C. Bement. Kristen Carlson.

    The Black Mesa region of Oklahoma is located in northwestern Cimarron County, and constitutes the edge of the Chaquaqua Plateau. It is the easternmost finger of Colorado's Mesa de Maya. Situated along Oklahoma's western border, Black Mesa is the highest and largest in a system of mesas and valleys that extend westward to merge with the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The relief of this landscape is exaggerated by its juxtaposition with the high plains to the north, south, and east – it is thus...

  • Geographic and Chronological Differences in Lithic Raw Material Use by Hunter-Gatherers in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Douglas MacDonald. Justin Pfau. Matthew Nelson.

    Over the last eight years, the University of Montana has conducted archaeological research at various sites in Yellowstone National Park and vicinity. One aspect of our research is to study variation in hunter-gatherer lithic raw material procurement and use. From north to south and east to west within the region, there are extreme variations in hunter-gatherer use of a number of distinct volcanic and non-volcanic lithic raw materials. This variation can be used to evaluate geographic...

  • Idaho's Radiocarbon Record and the Challenges of Chronometric Hygiene (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kenneth Reid. Ethan Morton.

    Idaho’s position as a hub adjoining several culture areas gives its radiocarbon chronology more than local interest. The record of late Pleistocene and Holocene radiometric dates extends back more than fifty years and includes at least 800 known or reported assays, not all of which are on file at the Archaeological Survey of Idaho. As of mid-2014 more than 650 dates were available from 184 sites distributed across all ten of the Level 3 ecoregions intercepted by the state’s border. Not...

  • The Landscape Archaeology of the Northwestern Plains: Problems and Potential (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jesse Ballenger. Brandi Bethke. Maria Zedeno.

    The Plains of Northern Montana contain a uniquely preserved record of rock circles (tipi rings), rock piles (cairns), and other rock configurations that communicate resident, transient, and permanent aspects of prehistoric Native American life in the modern Blackfeet Indian Reservation. This paper relies on the long-term recordation of several thousand of such features to articulate a continuous architectural landscape that represents leadership, planning, seasonality, demography, and the...

  • A Multi-Scalar Chipped Stone Analysis in the Northern Rocky Mountains: Comparing the Bridger Mountains, Montana to the Absaroka Mountains, Wyoming (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Meghan Forney. John W. Fisher, Jr.. Lawerence Todd.

    Conducting research in montane settings, while rewarding, comes with a set of challenges which can result in a relative paucity of data from these locations. However, this problem can be mitigated by various analytical techniques. One approach is to employ a multi-scalar analysis on available data, a method that has produced richer results from limited data in other archaeological contexts. We have applied a multi-scalar analysis to the Pre-Contact era archaeological record of the Bridger...

  • Multidisciplinary Reconstruction of Interactive Change in Holocene Treeline, Paleoclimate,and High Altitude Hunting Systems in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Robert Brunswig. James Doerner. David Diggs.

    More than eighty high altitude game drives are known along north central Colorado’s continental divide, but until recently there has been limited understanding of the interactive effect of cyclical climate and ecosystem change on Holocene alpine tundra hunting systems. University of Northern Colorado researchers, after fifteen years of high altitude archaeological and paleoclimate research, have produced an early phase reconstruction of game drive use and elevation-specific environmental zone...

  • Out of Ice: A Review of Greater Yellowstone Area Ice Patch Hunting Technology (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kathryn Puseman. Craig Lee.

    While the unique plant and animal communities of the alpine are of clear ethnohistorical and modern significance to the indigenous communities of the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA), no histories regarding the use of ice patches have been identified. Information sharing with tribal groups and the public regarding the nature of ice patches, including the technical analysis of recovered materials, fosters understanding of and appreciation for these endangered features. This paper focuses on the...

  • Paleoindian Use of the Lake Fork Valley, Southwest Colorado (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only William Ankele. Bonnie L. Pitblado. Meghan J. Forney. Christopher W. Merriman.

    For more than a decade, University of Oklahoma archaeologists have teamed with avocational archaeologist Mike Pearce to document Paleoindian use of the Lake Fork Valley (LFV), southwest Colorado. The Lake Fork of the Gunnison River flows from the town of Lake City approximately 50 km north to the Gunnison River in the Upper Gunnison Basin (UGB). Interestingly, however, the Paleoindian record of the LFV differs markedly from that of the better-known UGB. We hypothesize that treating the LFV as...

  • Rock Art Research and Ethnohistory on the Northwestern Plains and Adjacent Rocky Mountains (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Mavis Greer. John Greer.

    Ethnohistorical sources in our region are mainly used for rock art explanation relative to warfare scenes, but they are equally important for tribal demographics and travel patterns and often more detailed than other sources. Ethnohistory can also provide support for theories about gender and age of rock art production and use when no other information is available. Such references supply details regarding religious practices and beliefs as they actually happened, not as they were later...