When Is a Horse Not a Horse? It Depends on Your Local Ecology


The (re)introduction of the horse to North America brought dramatic changes to American Indians. However, not all populations were affected equally; the horse became central to some societies, but had seemingly little effect on others. This variation is seen across Great Basin ethnographic groups, where some populations adopted the horse for transportation and hunting, while others ignored or even ate the horse. Some argue that this variation is the result of environmental constraints: where the local ecology could support horses, people adopted them; where horses could not survive, people did not. Here, we propose a novel ecological hypothesis based on the costs and benefits of riding versus eating the horse. We review the historical and linguistic evidence for variation in the adoption of the horse throughout the Great Basin, and then test the proposed environmental and ecological hypotheses.

Cite this Record

When Is a Horse Not a Horse? It Depends on Your Local Ecology. Ashley Parker, Lisa Johnson, Kate Magargal, Marianna Di Paolo, Brian Codding. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 442838)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -124.189; min lat: 31.803 ; max long: -105.469; max lat: 43.58 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 20131