Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Regional Site Surveys: The Plains

Scheiber, Laura L. Clark, Bonnie J.
2008 Archaeological Landscapes on the High Plains

In this reading, Laura Scheiber explains what information she and others have gained from the excavation done at the Donovan Site and the assumptions that can be made as a result of said information. The Donovan Site is located in Northeastern Colorado and was an area that was believed to play host to large groups of Native American tribes. It was mainly used as a bison-processing plant. (19) This is explained by the large amounts of artifacts found in the site that specifically pertain to these activities (bison remains, tools specific to bison processing, hearths, lithic materials, etc.). Since these artifacts are so highly concentrated in the area, and are so similar in construction, it has been deduced that the Donovan Site is one of a few areas that was revisited by the same Native American groups.
            These groups are thought to have been settled in the area between 1000 A.D. and 1300 A.D. In this amount of time, it is shown via the similarities in organization in both structures and activity, these groups had established themselves for a long enough period to require the older generations to bestow their knowledge of their lifestyles upon the younger generation as to ensure the continued well being of the society as a whole.  This is shown more in the physical structures created, as well ast the “small  farming hamlets” found in the local area. This suggests a far more permanent society. (21) The fact that the relationship between the groups society relative to their environment is even considered is a turn towards a more modern view of the subject, considering that until recently, the information gained from particular sites was focused more on the artifacts gather than the social aspect of the groups utilizing them. (72) This brings forth a more holistic view of the culture.

Vierra, Bradley J.
Late Archaic Across the Borderlands : From Foraging to Farming

            In this reading, Vierra explains the importance of the region in which a Native American group resides and the drastic impact it has on their lifestyle. He elaborates on the idea that many groups in the southwestern area of the plains slowly became less mobile and more sedentary (84). The artifacts located in these areas show this. Items such as bone tools and maize indicate the Native American tribes moved from being mostly dependant on a hunter-gatherer lifestyle (from which they procured the bones necessary for the crafting of these tools) into a transition to a more agricultural method of living. Since both of these items are found in such abundance, it creates a question as to whether these groups were either “committed agriculturalists” who were invested in their location and lifestyle, or seasonal farmers who spent the other part of the season hunting game.

            One of the reasons this is important is because Vierra is looking at more than just the physical artifacts and the purely geographical aspects. He is also looking intently at the cultural and behavioral facets of the tribe lifestyle as to gain a more holistic view of the society (85). He brings into question why any group of people would give up the “easygoing life of the hunter-gatherer” to transition to the agricultural lifestyle that many groups of the time found far more difficult. It is this kind of logic that causes one to realized that, to gain a real idea of the culture of many Native groups of the Great Plains, they must analyze as many aspects of their situation as possible. Not only the artifacts found in the area, but also any cultural and historical information that can be developed into a real solution.

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