Buffalo Bird Woman and Hidatsa Agricultural Techniques

  • Reid J. Graham


The archaeological cultures in the Northern Plains region of North America have long been characterized as primarily nomadic bison hunting populations. However, semi-sedentary villages that focused on maize based agriculture existed in the Dakotas during the historic period and over a much wider range prior to European contact. The agricultural potential of these societies and the impact they had on neighbouring bison focused groups has been recognized only recently in the archaeological literature. The primary historic groups in this study are the Hidatsa, Mandan and Arikara, and the details of their agricultural technique stem from Buffalo Bird Woman account as recorded by Gilbert Wilson. This ethnographic data is combined with experimental and historical production data to illustrate implications for Precontact societies and relationships between different indigenous groups on the Northern Plains.
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