Archaeology of Minnesota
The Prehistory of the Upper Mississippi River Region
Publication Year: 2012
Histories of Minnesota typically begin with seventeenth-century French fur traders exploring the western shores of Lake Superior. And yet, archaeology reveals that Native Americans lived in the region at least 13,000 years before such European incursions. Archaeology of Minnesota tells their story—or as much as the region’s wealth of artifacts, evidence of human activity, and animal and plant remains can convey.
From archaeological materials, Guy Gibbon reconstructs the social, economic, and political systems—the lifeways—of those who inhabited what we now call Minnesota for thousands of years before the first contact between native peoples and Europeans. From the boreal coniferous forests to the north, to the tall grass prairie to the west and southwest, to the deciduous forest to the east and southeast, the richly diverse land of the upper Mississippi River region, crossed and bordered by all manner of waterways, was a virtual melting pot of prehistoric cultures.
Demonstrating how native cultures adapted and evolved over time, Gibbon provides an explanation that is firmly rooted in the nature of local environments. In doing so, he shows how the study of Minnesota archaeology is relevant to a broader understanding of long-term patterns of change in human development throughout the world.
Published by: University of Minnesota Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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Preface and Acknowledgments
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Histories of Minnesota typically begin with the explorations of French fur traders Groseilliers and Radisson along the western shores of Lake Superior in 1659 and 1660. Archaeology, the study of the human past through the recovery and interpretation of material remains, has discovered, ...
Introduction: The Tools of the Trade
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A widely shared image of an archaeologist is someone who digs sites and studies artifacts—and I do dig sites and study artifacts. However, that image is only half true, for we are equally and in many ways more importantly involved in reconstructing the social, economic, and political systems—the lifeways—of past peoples. ...
1. Environments of Minnesota
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For archaeologists, Minnesota is both a perplexing and an intriguing state to work in. Its vegetation cover grades into boreal coniferous forest to the north, tallgrass prairie to the west and southwest, and deciduous forest to the east and southeast. ...
Paleoindian and Archaic Period, circa 11,200 to 500 BC
2. First People: Paleoindian and Early Eastern Archaic Adaptations
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Today, it seems increasingly likely that small bands of mobile hunter-gatherers who drifted into or by Alaska from Asia between 20,000 and 14,000 years ago were the first human beings to enter the Americas.1 Like all people who have lived in the Americas, they were physically modern Homo sapiens. ...
3. Prairie Everywhere: Middle and Late Archaic Adaptations
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Archaic societies replaced Paleoindian societies and were followed by potterymaking Woodland peoples. This is a minimal definition of the term Archaic, for the content and size of these societies varied widely across the continent, and archaeologists define the concept according to different sets of criteria.1 ...
Initial Woodland Period, circa 1000–500 BC to AD 500–700
4. Southern Deer Hunters, Gardeners, and Bison Hunters: Initial Woodland Adaptations in Southern Minnesota
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For many years the commencement of a new cultural tradition in the Eastern Woodlands, the Woodland, was defined by the first appearance of pottery containers, earthen burial mounds, and agriculture. Information gathered within the past thirty years has clearly demonstrated that these once diagnostic traits ...
5. Northern Hunters, Fishers, and Wild Rice Harvesters: Initial Woodland Adaptations in Central and Northern Minnesota
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As in southern Minnesota, Initial Woodland complexes in central and northern Minnesota are defined largely by the style and presence of the first pottery vessels in these parts of the state. These vessels, like those in the southern part of the state, are jars that appear, usually, in both larger utilitarian forms and smaller ritual/burial forms. ...
Terminal Woodland and Mississippian Period, circa AD 500–700 to 1650
6. Terminal Woodland Effigy Mound Builders and Bison Hunters: Terminal Woodland Adaptations in Southern Minnesota
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By AD 500, new trends in the manufacture of ceramic vessels and stone projectile points become apparent among Woodland cultures in southeastern Minnesota and adjacent parts of Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois. Changes in some aspects of social organization and religion were apparently occurring, ...
7. First Tribes in Southern Minnesota: Mississippian and Plains Village Adaptations
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The long Woodland dominance in southern Minnesota came to an end between AD 900 and 1100 with the sudden appearance of Native American societies with new material cultures, subsistence-settlement patterns, social organizations, and ideologies. ...
8. First Tribes in Central and Northern Minnesota: Terminal Woodland Adaptations
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The Terminal Woodland period (AD 500–1750) in Minnesota’s central and northern forests and prairies was, as in southern Minnesota, a time of momentous change. New ceramic forms and styles appear and are replaced by completely different forms and styles; the size of Native American populations substantially increases; ...
Conclusion: Long-Term Pattern in the Past
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In this final chapter I summarize the long-term historical trajectories identified in chapters 2 through 8. I then place these long-term historical trajectories in the context of the history of human societies throughout the world and argue that the identification of historical trajectories like these should be of interest to all of us. ...
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About the Author
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Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 2012