In this Book

Blackland Prairies of the Gulf Coastal Plain
summary

This comprehensive study of one of the most ecologically rich regions of the Southeast underscores the relevance of archaeological research in understanding long-term cultural change.

Taking a holistic approach, this compilation gathers ecological, historical, and archaeological research written on the distinctive region of the Southeast called the Gulf coast blackland prairie. Ranging from the last glacial period to the present day, the case studies provide a broad picture of how the area has changed through time and been modified by humans, first with nomadic bands of Indians trailing the grazing animals and then by Euro-American settlers who farmed the rich agricultural area. Contemporary impacts include industrialization, aquaculture, population growth, land reclamation, and wildlife management.

It is believed that the Black Belt and the Great Plains were contiguous in the past and shared the same prairie vegetation, insects, and large fauna, such as bison. Swaths and patches of limestone-based soils still weave a biological corridor through what is now Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas. In analyzing this distinct grassland ecosystem, the essays compare both the mega and minute flora and fauna sustained by the land in the past and present; reveal what foods were harvested by early inhabitants, their gathering techniques, and diet changes over the 10,000-year period of native occupancy; survey the documents of early explorers for descriptions of the landform, its use, and the lives of inhabitants at the time of contact; and look at contemporary efforts to halt abuse and reverse damage to this unique and shrinking biome.

This book demonstrates that the blackland prairie has always been an important refuge for a teeming array of biological species, including humans. It will have wide scholarly appeal as well as general interest and will be welcomed by archaeologists, biologists, botanists, ecologists, historians, librarians, politicians, land managers, and national, state, and local administrators.

Evan Peacock is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Mississippi State University and a contributor to The Woodland Southeast. Timothy Schauwecker is a biologist with Mississippi State University.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Frontmatter
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. Figures
  2. pp. ix-xi
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  1. Tables
  2. pp. xii-xiii
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  1. 1. Introduction: The Nature, Culture, and Sustainability of Blackland Prairies
  2. pp. 1-7
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  1. PART I: NATURE
  2. p. 9
  1. 2. Paleoenvironment and Biogeography of the Mississippi Black Belt: Evidence from Insects
  2. pp. 11-26
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  1. 3. Terrestrial Gastropods from Archaeological Contexts in the Black Belt Province of Mississippi
  2. pp. 27-47
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  1. 4. The Application of a Small-mammal Model in Paleoenvironmental Analysis
  2. pp. 48-63
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  1. 5. A Comparison of Three Methods of Paleoenvironmental Analysis at an Archaeological Site on the Mississippi Black Prairie
  2. pp. 64-79
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  1. 6. Louisiana Prairies
  2. pp. 80-93
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  1. 7. Blackland Prairie Landscapes of Southwestern Arkansas: Historical Perspective, Present Status, and Restoration Potential
  2. pp. 94-109
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  1. 8. A Plant Community Classification for Arkansas’s Blackland Prairie Ecosystem
  2. pp. 110-145
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  1. 9. Plant and Soil Interactions in Prairie Remnants of the Jackson Prairie Region, Mississippi
  2. pp. 146-163
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  1. PART II: CULTURE
  2. p. 165
  1. 10. Prehistoric Settlement Patterning on the Mississippi Black Prairie
  2. pp. 167-193
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  1. 11. Water-resource Controls on Human Habitation in the Black Prairie of North-Central Mississippi
  2. pp. 194-211
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  1. 12. Osage Orange Bows, Indian Horses, and the Blackland Prairie of Northeastern Texas
  2. pp. 212-236
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  1. PART III: SUSTAINABILITY
  2. p. 237
  1. 13. Rediscovery and Management of Prairie Remnants of the Bienville National Forest, East-Central Mississippi
  2. pp. 239-245
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  1. 14. Plant Assemblage Response to Disturbance at a Blackland Prairie Restoration Site in Northeastern Mississippi
  2. pp. 246-253
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  1. 15. Restoration of a Prairie Remnant in the Black Belt of Mississippi
  2. pp. 254-261
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  1. 16. Priorities for the Future: Planning for Sustainable Multiple Use
  2. pp. 262-278
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  1. 17. Conclusion: Theory and Applications in the Study of Human/Nature Interactions
  2. pp. 279-282
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  1. References Cited
  2. pp. 283-336
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  1. Contributors
  2. pp. 337-341
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 343-348
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