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An Assessment of Archaeological Bison Remains in the American Southwest and the Wildlife Management Implications for the Grand Canyon National Park Bison Herd

Author(s): Donelle Huffer

Year: 2016

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Summary

The historically introduced House Rock Valley bison herd in northern Arizona has, in recent years, migrated from the eastern Arizona Strip onto the Kaibab Plateau within Grand Canyon National Park. Bison are considered a nonnative species to the southern Colorado Plateau, and the animals adversely impact sensitive ecosystems prompting National Park Service wildlife managers to pursue their removal. Archaeofaunal evidence of bison in the Grand Canyon and neighboring regions, however, raises concern that bison may in fact be a native species. Yet this evidence had never been assessed within a zooarchaeological interpretive framework, which is critical since mere presence/absence lists of bison remains do not address the potentially complex cultural processes involved in the formation of archaeofaunal assemblages. When evaluated through inter-assemblage comparisons, a dramatic decline in relative abundance and skeletal completeness correlated to distance from traditionally understood historical bison distribution is apparent. Although the archaeofaunal evidence does not rule out the possibility that bison were present in the Southwest, it does suggest that the species likely entered the region only rarely as small, dispersed herds, which is corroborated in historic manuscripts and ethnohistoric accounts.


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An Assessment of Archaeological Bison Remains in the American Southwest and the Wildlife Management Implications for the Grand Canyon National Park Bison Herd. Donelle Huffer. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 405163)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America