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Origin Stories, Archaeological Evidence, and Postclovis Paleoindian Bison Hunting on the Great Plains

  • Douglas B. Bamforth (a1)

Abstract

Reconstructions of the Paleoindian period are archaeology's origin stories about the native people of North America. These reconstructions have strongly emphasized great differences between recent and ancient Native Americans, echoing a perspective with its roots in the nineteenth century. One central component of the differences archaeologists have seen lies in the way that Paleoindian groups moved across the landscape. Particularly on the Great Plains, these movements have been seen as unpredictable and nonrepetitive, with this view founded largely in interpretations of evidence from large bison kills. This paper compares the overall patterns of post-Clovis Paleoindian and post-Paleoindian communal bison hunting on the Plains, arguing that there is no evidence of rapid or substantial change in such hunting at the end of the Paleoindian period. Although hunting practices did not remain exactly the same over time, most of the basic characteristics of Paleoindian hunting were common on the Plains for millennia. Only the northern Plains stands out from this, and it does so only within the last 2,000 to 3,000 years, probably in reaction to the development of continent-wide exchange networks. Paleoindians certainly lived different lives than did later occupants of the Great Plains, but the literature significantly exaggerates the magnitude of this difference.

Resumen

Las reconstrucciones del Periodo Paleoindio pueden considerarse como las historias que la arqueología narra en torno al origen de los pueblos nativos de Norteamérica. Estas reconstrucciones han pue sto énfasis en una fuerte diferencia entre los Nativos Americanos recientes con aquellos de la antigüedad, haciendo eco de una perspectiva que tiene sus raíces en el siglo XIX. Un componente central de las diferencias que los arqueólogos han visto, radica en la manera en que los grupos Paleoindios se movían a través del paisaje, particularmente en el caso de las Grandes Planicies, tales movimientos se hanpercibido como impredecibles y no repetitivos. Esta visión se fundamente principalmente en las interpretaciones que se hacen de las grandes matanzas de bisontes. Este artículo compara los patrones generales de las cacerías comunales de bisontes llevadas a cabo por grupos Paleoindios post-Clovis así como por post-Paleoindios. Se argumenta que no hay evidencia de un cambio rápido en lasprácticas de cacería comunal a finales del Periodo Paleoindio. Aunque lasprácticas de cacería no permanecieron exactamente iguales a lo largo del tiempo, la mayoría de las características básicas de la cacería Peleoindia persistieron en las Grandes Planicies por milenios. Ùnicamente las Planicies del norte rompen esta práctica, y esto sucede en los últimos 2000 a 3000 años, probablemente como una reacción al desarrollo de amplias redes de intercambio continentales. Los Paleoindios ciertamente tuvieron formas distintas de vida de que las que tuvieron los ocupantes más tardios de las Grandes Planicies, pero la bibliografía actual exagera significantemente la magnitud de estas diferencias.

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Origin Stories, Archaeological Evidence, and Postclovis Paleoindian Bison Hunting on the Great Plains

  • Douglas B. Bamforth (a1)

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