On the Road to Becoming Apache: The Western Dismal River Culture at the Plains/Foothills Margin

Author(s): Sean P. Larmore; Kevin P. Gilmore

Year: 2017


Discovery of new sites as well as the reanalysis of museum collections over the last 15 years has renewed focus on the Western Dismal River (WDR) culture, which we hypothesize represents the ancestral Apachean occupation of the western margin of the Great Plains and into the foothills and high country of the Rocky Mountains, A.D. 1300-1650. Once thought to represent the initial entry of ancestral Apache in the region during the initial Na-Dene diaspora from the north, this culture is now recognized as transitional between the Promontory Culture at Franktown Cave (A.D. 1180-1280), which represents the initial ancestral Apache entry into the area, and the later Eastern Dismal River culture (A.D. 1650-1725) of the Central Plains. A decrease in regional population possibly related to climate change could have provided an advantage to WDR people who were adapted to marginal upland environments. The technology and material sources represented in WDR material culture reflects both familiarity with their environment born of long tenure and reciprocal trade relationships resulting in the exchange of raw material and ideas with groups in the Southwest and Great Plains. This intermediary role between the Plains and the Southwest represents the early stages in historical Apache ethnogenesis.

Cite this Record

On the Road to Becoming Apache: The Western Dismal River Culture at the Plains/Foothills Margin. Sean P. Larmore, Kevin P. Gilmore. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431878)


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15483