Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Agriculture-The Plains

Schneider, Fred
2002 Prehistoric Horticulture in the North Eastern Plains. The Plains Anthroologist. Vol. 47 No. 180 pp. 33-50

The main point that Schneider is making in this article is that the North Eastern Plains are not recognized for having horticultural villages during the late prehistoric. The North Eastern Plains includes; Eastern North and South Dakota, Western Minnesota, and Southern Manitoba. The indigenous peoples recognized from this area are; Sioux, Chippewa, Assiniboine, and Cree (33).  Schneider focuses on the Shea Site which is located in South Eastern North Dakota, and dates to the late prehistoric (A.D. 1200). The Shea Site contains; maize, other seeds, cache pits, and hoes (33).
 Schneider's reasoning is based off of a variety of factors and points out that archeologists hold a biased view that favors the Missouri River Valley because it holds large sites, strengthened earthlodges, and is proven for late prehistoric maize cultivation.
Schneider also points out other reasoning why this site is not recognized for maize cultivation and archaeologists (he is specifically referring to Wedel and Yarnel) believe that the climate of the late prehistoric was not suitable for cultivation due to the 110-130 days of frost. Schneider rebuttles to this by pointing out that Indigenous Peoples cultivated using short-seasoned flint maize and that "corn growth maturity is much more a matter of heat units than frost-free days (38)."
 The author points out that another reason why the NE Plains are not recognized for horticultural villages during the late prehistoric is the failure to use field techniques that are appropriate (33). He accuses the nature of past archaeological techniques. He writes about how the system of recovery for archaeobotanical materials wasn't high on the to do list of archaeologists at the time. The author discusses how improvement of excavation techniques over time aids to yielding more evidence for the production of maize, and that more recent excavations have given more evidence, such as plant material and cultigens that also aid to cultivation in this area and time period as well(41-42).

1 comment:

  1. While I agree with Schneider that the presence of horticulture in sites such as that of Shea has been largely overlooked by the archaeological community, from what one of my articles described of the site horticulture was minimally present at the Shea site. My article mentioned that cobs were present indicating that maize was likely to have been grown at the site or at least nearby the reliance on maize seemed to be minimal with a higher focus on wild food sources such as bison. So perhaps it is not as overlooked as Schneider makes it out to be but rather it is just that sites such as Shea did not have much if any horticulture.

    Michlovic, Michael G. and Schneider, Fred E.
    1993 The Shea Site: A Prehistoric Fortified Village on the Northeastern Plains. Journal of Plains Anthropological Society 38 (143) 117-137.