Bison hunters and the Rocky Mountains: An evolving partnership

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6 Scopus citations


Euroamericans who encountered the Blackfoot in the late 19th century believed that these Plains bison hunters held the Rocky Mountains in awe and fear, preferring to remain on the prairie even as bison and elk herds dwindled. This incorrect assumption has hampered our ability to understand deep-time relationships between mountain and Plains cultural expressions. Although the historic Blackfoot did not dwell in high elevations, the character of their relationship with the Rocky Mountain Front began in “time immemorial” with the creation of the world, the establishment of social mores, and the group's ethnogenesis. Historical ethnography and contemporary practices furnish rich detail on the depth and significance of relationships among people, mountains, and other-than-human persons, not the least of which is the Blackfoot's partnership with bison. Archaeology tells of an ancient partnership that the ancestors established with the Rocky Mountain Front, which in turn explains their intimate familiarity with elevated environments; as the glacial ice retreated, the ancestors folded this new landscape into their worldviews and practices. This paper tracks the dynamics of this partnership to provide a cultural context for deriving connections and uncovering contrasts among the people who populated America's backbone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)80-101
Number of pages22
JournalQuaternary International
StatePublished - Dec 15 2017


  • Bison
  • Blackfoot
  • Hunters
  • Religion
  • Rocky Mountain Front

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes


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