People in a Sea of Grass

Archaeology's Changing Perspective on Indigenous Plains Communities

Ninety years ago Great Plains archaeologists such as Waldo Wedel and William Duncan Strong made foundational contributions to American archaeology, enabling new discoveries, insights, and interpretations. This volume explores how twenty-first-century archaeologists have built upon, remodeled, and sometimes rejected the inferences of these earlier scholars with updated overviews and analyses.

Contributors highlight how Indigenous Plains groups participated in large-scale social networks in which ideas, symbols, artifacts, and people moved across North America over the last 2,000 years. They also discuss cultural transformation, focusing on key demographic, economic, social, and ceremonial factors associated with change, including colonization and integration into the social and political economies of transatlantic societies. Cultural traditions covered include Woodland-era Kansas City Hopewell, late prehistoric Central Plains tradition, and ancestral and early historic Wichita, Pawnee and Arikara, Kanza, Plains Apache, and Puebloan migrants. As the first review of Plains archaeology in more than a decade, this book brings studies of early Indigenous
peoples of the central and southern Plains into a new era.

Matthew E. Hill Jr. is associate professor of anthropology at University of Iowa. His research focuses on issues of human-environmental interactions of Native peoples in the Great Plains. 

Lauren W. Ritterbush is professor of anthropology at Kansas State University. Her research focuses on indigenous and migrant farming and hunting societies in the central and northern Great Plains.

Table of Contents:List of Figures
List of Tables
1. Introduction
Matthew E. Hill, Jr., and Lauren W. Ritterbush
2. Changing Perspectives in Central Plains Archaeology
Matthew E. Hill Jr.
3. “Remote from the Culture Hearth”? Envisioning Kansas City Hopewell
Brad Logan
4. Configuring Late Prehistory in the Central Plains
Lauren W. Ritterbush  
5. Ceramic Variability within the Steed-Kisker Phase: Reassessment of Ceramics from the Steed-Kisker Site, 23PL13
William T. Billeck 
6. Ideology and Political Development: The Little River Focus Council Circles of Central Kansas
Susan C. Vehik  
7. The Growth of Pawnee Archaeology
Mary J. Adair and Jack L. Hofman
8. Archaeology of the Ancestral Kanza (Kaw) Indians
Lauren W. Ritterbush
9. Understanding the Scott County Pueblo (14SC1) Occupation: Isolated Migrants or Community Builders?
Sarah Trabert, Matthew E. Hill, Jr., and Margaret E. Beck
10. Puebloan-Plains Interaction AD 1550–1700: The Central Plains During and After the Southern Plains Macroeconomy
Margaret E. Beck
11. The Quivira Expeditions, AD 1541–1602
Donald J. Blakeslee
12. Concluding Thoughts
Matthew E. Hill, Jr., and Lauren W. Ritterbush
List of Contributors

Praise and Reviews:

“Each chapter reviews previous research and provides fresh interpretations or new data and methodologies. The contributors are all top-notch scholars in southern and central Great Plains archaeology. This is a strong volume that will be a clear contribution to Plains archaeology.”
—Rob Bozell, Nebraska State Archeologist 

“This volume grew out of a symposium honoring Waldo Wedel and is the first regional review of Plains archaeology in over 20 years. Wedel and his contemporaries established the theoretical foundations for modern Plains archaeology. The contributors critically examine our current understanding of the archaeology of the Great Plains using sites and interpretations that focus on Wedel’s major contributions. This book is a welcome addition to Plains archaeology.” 
—Joseph A. Tiffany, professor emeritus, Department of Archaeology, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse