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Islands on the Plains

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Copyright: 2003
Trim: 7 x 10
Pages: 352 pp.
Illustrations: 73 figures, 31 tables


Islands on the Plains

Ecological, Social, and Ritual Use of Landscapes

Edited by Marcel Kornfeld and Alan J. Osborn

Anthropology / Archaeology

Scattered throughout the Great Plains are many isolated areas of varying size and ecology, quite distinct from the surrounding grasslands. Such spaces can be uplands like the Black Hills, low hills like the Nebraska Sand Hills, or linear areas such as shallow river valleys and deeply incised canyons. While the notion of “islands” is not a new one among ecologists, its application in Plains archaeology is.

The contributors to this volume seek to illustrate the different ways that the spatial, structural, and temporal nature of islands conditioned the behavior and adaptation of past Plains peoples. This as a first step toward a more detailed analysis of habitat variation and its effects on Plains cultural dynamics and evolution. Although the emphasis is on ecology, several chapters also address social and ideological islands in the form of sacred sites and special hunting grounds.

Marcel Kornfeld is a professor of anthropology and director of the George C. Frison Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Wyoming. He is the author of seven monographs, most recently On Shelter’s Ledge: Histories, Theories and Methods of Rockshelter Research, and coeditor of the forthcoming volume Hell Gap: A Stratified Paleoindian Campsite at the Edge of the Rockies.

Alan Osborn is research archaeologist and adjunct associate professor, University of Nebraska State Museum, Lincoln.


Walt Allen, USDA Forest Service, Bozeman, Montana
William E. Banks, Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka
John R. Bozell, Nebraska Historical Society, Lincoln
Robert H. Brunwig, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, Colorado
David A. Byers, (doctoral candidate) University of Utah, Salt Lake City
Yi-Shing Chung, (doctoral candidate) University of Arizona, Tucson
John W. Fisher, Jr., Montana State University, Bozeman
Vance T. Holliday, University of Arizona, Tucson
Eileen Johnson, Museum of Texas Tech University, Lubbock
Amy Koch, Fort Robison Museum, Nebraska State Historical Society, Crawford
Marcel Kornfeld, University of Wyoming, Laramie
Luc Litwinionek, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
George H. MacDonell, Black Hills National Forest, Custer, South Dakota
Alan J. Osborn, University of Nebraska State Museum, Lincoln
Tammy Stone, University of Colorado, Denver
Linea Sundstrom, Day Star Research, Shorewood, Wisconsin
Susan C. Vehik, University of Oklahoma, Norman
LuAnn Wandsnider, University of Nebraska, Lincoln

Table of Contents:


1. Biogeographical Islands and Ecological Patches: Seeing the Great Plains from the Inside Out ~ Alan J. Osborn and Marcel Kornfeld

PART I. Playa Basins as Islands
2. The Playas of the Southern High Plains: An Archipelago of Human Occupation for 12,000 Years on the North American Grasslands ~ Luc Litwinionek, Eileen Johnson, and Vance T. Holliday
3. Prehistoric Utilization of Patch Environments and Culture Change in Colorado's Central High Plains ~ Robert H. Brunswig

PART II. Linear Islands: Streams and Canyons
4. Catchment Basins as Islands in West-Central Oklahoma: Farra Canyon ~ William E. Banks
5. The Western Niobrara River: An Inter-Island Passage on the Plains ~ George H. MacDonell and LuAnn Wandsnider

PART III. Upland Islands
6. Pull of the Hills: Technological Structures Around Biogeographical Islands ~ Marcel Kornfeld
7. Investigations in the Bridger Mountain Range, Montana: A Backyard Archaeology Project ~ David A. Byers, Walter Allen, and John W. Fisher, Jr.
8. Environmental and Cultural Variation in the Nebraska Sand Hills ~ Amy Koch and John R. Bozell

PART IV. Ecological Modeling and Resource Patches
9. "Place Where They Kill Deer": Moisture Islands, Winter Climate, and Ungulate Ecology in the Northwestern Great Plains ~ Alan J. Osborn
10. Islands of Geophytes: Sego Lily and Wild Onion Patch Density in a High Plains Habitat ~ LuAnn Wandsnider and Yi-Shing Chung

PART V. Sacred and Social Islands
11. Social Islands in the Denver Basin ~ Tammy Stone
12. Sacred Islands: An Exploration of Religion and Landscape in the Northern Great Plains ~ Linea Sundstrom

PART IV. Present and Future of Plains Islands Research
13. Islands and Patches in the Plains ~ Susan C. Vehik


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