McKean in the Northern Rocky Mountain Front: Economic landscape and ethnogenesis

Blackfeet Thpo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We characterize the McKean (Middle Archaic) settlement of the Lewis Range in the Northern Rocky Mountain Front based on new excavations at the well-preserved and multi-component Billy Big Spring site, Montana, and on a reevaluation of the regional archaeological grey literature. The study area contains numerous McKean sites despite being generally considered marginal to the McKean world. Economic strategies emphasize upland sheep hunting using probable traps or blinds and foothills bison ambush hunting near wetlands. The emergence of well-defined economic strategies during the Middle Archaic in the Northern Rocky Mountain Front coincides with the appearance of several markers of social identity in the northwestern Plains. When combined, these traits point to the emergence of ethnic/cultural identities in the Archaic period and suggest complex demographic and social processes that are often overlooked in traditional discussions of projectile point distribution and chronology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-248
Number of pages22
JournalPlains Anthropologist
Volume65
Issue number255
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2 2020

Keywords

  • Blackfoot
  • McKean
  • Middle Archaic
  • Northwestern Plains
  • Rocky Mountain Front
  • Sheep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology

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