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date: 20 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

On the Northern Plains of North America, archaeological models of settlement systems are generally based on the ecology and behavior of bison. The annual subsistence round is often described in terms of the seasonal migrations of bison, from wintering grounds in the sheltered valleys of the foothills to summer pastures on the open grasslands. Even though the bison herds migrate across extensive tracts, the territories of the human groups are limited by the distribution of critical resources and by the prevailing mode of transportation. Bison-herding behavior also accounts for seasonal patterns of human aggregation and dispersal, whereas topography, vegetation, and distance to fuel and water explain where people camp during their annual forays across the Northern Plains. Although researchers now use GIS to develop sophisticated predictive models of site location, they still rely on the same suite of ecological variables to model human behavior.

Keywords: oral traditions, archaeological models, settlement systems, seasonal migrations, bison, Northern Plains

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