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date: 25 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Native societies on the Plains are often viewed as focused on bison hunting, the pattern beginning in Paleoindian times with Folsom hunters and extending to historic tribes characterized as nomads on horseback following bison herds across great expanses of prairie. Although bison can be considered the principal game of the Plains, by about AD 1000 much of the southern and central Plains, including drier western prairies, was occupied by sedentary groups who depended on a mix of hunting, gathering, and horticulture, with corn, beans, squash, and other cultivated plants representing a significant part of their diet. Year-round settlements appear across the Plains at this time, ranging in size from farmsteads and hamlets of a few houses to villages of 200 or more people, with some villages fortified by the sixteenth century. Long-distance exchange networks allowed interaction with the Pueblos of the Southwest and the mound-builder societies of the Southeast. This article reviews the development of farming societies in the southern and central Plains, and examines the factors that led to changes in lifestyles during the period between AD 1000 and 1800.

Keywords: Folsom hunters, native societies, bison herds, western prairies, exchange networks, social interaction, farming societies

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