Bison Hunters and the Rockies: An Evolving Ontology

Author(s): Maria Zedeño

Year: 2016


Euroamericans who encountered northern Plains bison hunters in the late 19th century believed that the Blackfoot held the Rocky Mountains in awe and fear, preferring to remain on the plains even as bison and elk herds dwindled. This incorrect assumption has hampered our ability to understand deep-time relationships between mountain and plains cultural expressions. Although the historic Blackfoot did not dwell in high elevations, the character of their relationship with the Rocky Mountain Front began in “time immemorial” with the creation of the world, the establishment of social mores, and the group’s ethnogenesis. Historical ethnology furnishes rich detail on the depth and significance of relationships among people, mountains, and other-than human persons, not the least of which is the Blackfoot’s partnership with bison. Archaeology tells of an ancient partnership that the ancestors established with mountain persons, which in turn explains their intimate familiarity with elevated environments; as the ice retreated, the ancestors folded this new landscape into their worldviews and practices. This paper tracks the dynamics of this partnership to provide a cultural context for deriving connections and uncovering contrasts among the people who populated America’s backbone.

Cite this Record

Bison Hunters and the Rockies: An Evolving Ontology. Maria Zedeño. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404053)


Bison BLACKFOOT ontology

Geographic Keywords
North America - Plains

Spatial Coverage

min long: -113.95; min lat: 30.751 ; max long: -97.163; max lat: 48.865 ;