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date: 18 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

For the past 13,000 years Indians in the North American Great Plains hunted bison (Bison bison and B. antiquus) in large communally organized drive operations. This chapter briefly describes the taxonomy of fossil and living bison, the behaviour of modern bison, and what is known from ethnohistoric and archaeological sources about the ways that Indians conducted these drives, including the use of foot surrounds, cliff jumps, arroyo traps, and pounds (corrals). The chapter concludes by considering whether such drives were conducted annually in the late fall and/or early winter as a means of winter provisioning; or instead were conducted periodically, but not necessarily annually, and at many different times of year, as a socio-political mechanism for integrating otherwise widely dispersed and highly mobile hunting bands.

Keywords: North America, Great Plains, bison, communal hunting, kill sites, cliff jumps, zooarchaeology

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