Islands On The Plains

Ecological, Social, and Ritual Use of Landscapes

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 associate professor in the department of sociology and anthropology at the University of Nebraska Omaha and curator of anthropology at the University of Nebraska State Museum.

Table of Contents:

Biogeographical Islands and Ecological Patches: Seeing Great Plains from Inside-Out: Alan J. Osborn and Marcel Kornfeld
The Playas of the Southern High Plains: An Archipelago of Human Occupation for the Past 12,000 Years in the North American Grasslands: Luc Litwinionek, Eileen Johnson, and Vance T. Holliday
Prehistoric Utilization of Patch Environments and Culture Change in Colorado's Central High Plains: Robert H. Brunswig, Jr.
Catchment Basins as Islands in West-Central Oklahoma: Farra Canyon: William E. Banks
The Western Niobrara River: An Inter-Island Passage on the Plains: George H. MacDonell and LuAnn Wandsnider
Pull of the Hills: Technological Structures around Biogeographical Islands: Marcel Kornfeld
Investigations in the Bridger Mountain Range, Montana: A Backyard Archaeological Project: David A. Byers, John W. Fisher, Jr., and Walter Alen
Environmental and Cultural Variation in the Sand Hills Region: John R. Bozell and Amy Koch
Places Where They Kill Deer: Moisture Islands, Winter Climate, and Ungulate Ecology in the Northwestern Great Plains: Alan J. Osborn
Sego Lily and Wild Onion Patch Density in a High Plains Habitat: LuAnn Wandsnider and Yi-Shing Chung
Social Islands in the Denver Basin: Tammy Stone
Sacred Islands: An Exploration of Religions and Landscape in the Great Plains: Linea Sundstrom
Islands and Patches in the Plains: Susan C. Vehik