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Winner of the 2009 SAA Public Audience Book Award For millennia, Aboriginal hunters on the North American Plains used their knowledge of the land and of buffalo behaviour to drive their quarry over cliffs. Archaeologist Jack Brink has written a major study of the mass buffalo hunts and the culture they supported before and after European contact. By way of example, he draws on his 25 years excavating at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump in southwestern Alberta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The near disappearance of the American bison in the nineteenth century is commonly understood to be the result of over-hunting, capitalist greed, and all but genocidal military policy. This interpretation remains seductive because of its simplicity; there are villains and victims in this familiar cautionary tale of the American frontier. But as this volume of groundbreaking scholarship shows, the story of the bison’s demise is actually quite nuanced. Bison and People on the North American Great Plains brings together voices from several disciplines to offer new insights on the relationship between humans and animals that approached extinction. The essays here transcend the border between the United States and Canada to provide a continental context. Contributors include historians, archaeologists, anthropologists, paleontologists, and Native American perspectives. This book explores the deep past and examines the latest knowledge on bison anatomy and physiology, how bison responded to climate change (especially drought), and early bison hunters and pre-contact trade. It also focuses on the era of European contact, in particular the arrival of the horse, and some of the first known instances of over-hunting. By the nineteenth century bison reached a “tipping point” as a result of new tanning practices, an early attempt at protective legislation, and ventures to introducing cattle as a replacement stock. The book concludes with a Lakota perspective featuring new ethnohistorical research. Bison and People on the North American Great Plains is a major contribution to environmental history, western history, and the growing field of transnational history.
Animals have played a fundamental role in shaping human history and the study of their remains from archaeological sites--zooarchaeology--has gradually been emerging as a powerful discipline and crucible for forging an understanding of our past. The Oxford Handbook of Zooarchaeology offers a cutting-edge compendium of zooarchaeology the world over that transcends environmental, economic, and social approaches, seeking instead to provide a holistic view of the roles played by animals in past human cultures. Incisive chapters written by leading scholars in the field incorporate case studies from across five continents, from Iceland to New Zealand and from Japan to Egypt and Ecuador, providing a sense of the dynamism of the discipline, the many approaches and methods adopted by different schools and traditions, and an idea of the huge range of interactions that have occurred between people and animals throughout the world and its history. Adaptations of human-animal relationships in environments as varied as the Arctic, temperate forests, deserts, the tropics, and the sea are discussed, while studies of hunter-gatherers, farmers, herders, fishermen, and even traders and urban dwellers highlight the importance that animals have had in all forms of human societies. With an introduction that clearly contextualizes the current practice of zooarchaeology in relation to both its history and the challenges and opportunities that can be expected for the future, and a methodological glossary illuminating the way in which zooarchaeologists approach the study of their material, this Handbook will be invaluable not only for specialists in the field, but for anybody who has an interest in our past and the role that animals have played in forging it.
A crystal clear evocation of another time and place and a compelling meditation on hope and loss.
Set in the Dirty Thirties, this prairie classic novel concerns Tom Sukanen's wild scheme to build an ship in the middle of a Ssaskatchewan wheatfield.
“A place here called Naw peu ooch eta cots from whence this river Derives its name…” When Hudson’s Bay Company surveyor Peter Fidler made contact with the Ktunaxa at the Gap of the Oldman River in the winter of 1792, his Piikáni guides brought him to the river’s namesake: these were the playing grounds where Napi, or Old Man, taught the various nations how to play a game as a way of making peace. In the centuries since, travellers, adventurers, and scholars have recorded several accounts of Old Man’s Playing Ground and of the hoop-and-arrow game that was played there. These same stories continue to be told, demonstrating the site’s core significance in the sacred geography of First Nations in southern Alberta today. In this work, oral tradition, history, and ethnography are brought together with a geomorphic assessment of the playing ground’s most probable location—a floodplain scoured and rebuilt by floodwaters of the Oldman—and the archaeology of adjacent prehistoric campsite DlPo-8. Taken together, the locale can be understood as a nexus for cultural interaction and trade, through the medium of gambling and games, on the natural frontier between peoples of the Interior Plateau and Northwest Plains.

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