North Dakota Eclectics

An anthropologist is a scientist who specializes in the study of human beings; their origins, physical characteristics, societal structure, religious beliefs, social relationships, lifestyle and culture
In archaeology, the Archaic Period is the name that is given the hunter-gatherer societies of North America, within the Middle Prehistoric Period, dating approximately 5,500 B.C. to 400 B.C. Archaic lifestyles included a dependence on elk, deer and bison, as well as a wide range of edible plants.
Archaeological Site
An archaeological site is a place in which there has been found evidence of past human activity. Often, an archaeological site is represented by the presence of artifacts and features, such as broken animal bones, burial mounds, projectile points, pottery, or the remains of dwellings. Archaeological sites are often buried, and some have several levels that represent different periods of people using the same site over time.
An archaeologist is an anthropologist who specializes in the scientific study of prehistoric peoples, cultures, and events by analyzing artifacts and other evidence found in archaeological sites.
An artifact is any portable item formed, modified, or used by human beings, particularly those of interest to archaeologists. Artifacts found in prehistoric archaeological sites in North Dakota have included broken animal bones, bone tools, pottery, projectile points, and decorative items made from shells and other materials. Artifacts may have been buried along with a body, found in the remains of villages or dwellings, or at hunting or battle sites.
An atlatl is a stick that is used to throw darts or spears. Atlatls found in North Dakota have been about two feet long, with a handle on one end, and a hook or cup on the other. A dart, ranging from three to six feet long is placed on the upper surface, with a socket fitting over the hook at the back of the atlatl. The atlatl is held in one hand, gripped near the end farthest from the cup, and the dart is thrown by the action of the upper arm and wrist, with the throwing arm and atlatl both acting as a lever. First used by the people of the Archaic Period, the atlatl allowed greater range and more striking power than could be attained with a hand-thrown spear.
Buffalo Jump
A buffalo jump refers to a cliff formation that was used to kill large quantities of buffalo by driving them off the cliff. Hunters of the Prehistoric Period would herd the buffalo, driving them off of the cliff, where they would be either killed or otherwise made immobile. Tribe members waiting below would finish the kills with spears or bows and arrows. These sites are often identified by rock cairns, which were markers used to identify the drive lanes by which the buffalo would be herded off the cliff. Buffalo jump sites are important to archaeologists because processing sites and camps were always located nearby, offering information on how the buffalo were used for food, clothing, and shelter. The plains people used every part of the animal.
Burial Mounds
Burial mounds were used by the Woodland people of the Middle and Late Prehistoric Periods, and are represented as a form of monument used to cover prehistoric burials. In North Dakota, they were commonly round, from two to twenty-five feet in height, and from ten to sixty feet in diameter. Effigy and linear mounds have also been found, but they were less common on North Dakota. A linear mound is a low, narrow mound that connects or radiates from a round mound in the center, while an effigy mound is one that has been constructed in the shape of an animal. In North Dakota, the only effigy mounds that have been discovered have been in the shape of a bear or of a snake. Burial mounds are sometimes grouped together in complexes that include dozens of mounds, covering as much as a quarter section of land.
In archaeology, culture refers to a variety of things, that may include language, arts, artifacts, and sites that represent patterns of human behavior or activity. Culture is learned from parents, family, and other people in the same proximity, as well as through other institutions. Archaeologists attempt to determine the culture of prehistoric people by examining artifacts and other material remains, including human skeletons, for clues.
Cultural Adaptation
A cultural adaptation is a change that is made by people in response to changes in their environment. This change may be related to the climate, such as the retreat of the glaciers, or it can be technological, such as the invention of the bow and arrow, or the introduction of horses, metal tools, or firearms.
An earth lodge was a type of earth-covered dwelling constructed by the Plains Village people. From about 1000 A.D. to 1600 A.D., earth lodges were rectangular or oval in shape, averaging twenty-five feet across and seventy feet long, with an entrance on one end. Usually, these earth lodges were set into a house pit, and faced southwest. After 1600 A.D., the shape of earth lodges changed to a circular form, based on four central posts, and house pits were no longer used. The framework of an earth lodge was first covered with bundles of branches, then with bundles of grass, all of which were covered with dirt, a design that allowed for about one foot of insulation.
Flint Quarries
Flint quarries were placed where prehistoric people mined stone to work into tools. Knife River Flint deposits in Mercer and Dunn counties were mined over such a long period of time that the mining pits are still visible on the surface as quarries. Other flint quarries had to be uncovered in archaeological digs.
A historian is a professional who studies the past, and generally writes about it. Historians are involved in locating, analyzing, and interpreting written records of the past.
Although the term is often defined generally, as anyone who studies the past, and particularly how it relates to human beings, it can more specifically be applied to the examination of written records. Prehistory ends, and history begins, with the first written records about an area. The first written records for North Dakota were the journals maintained by Pierre de Varennes, the Sieur de La Verendrye, beginning in 1738.
Knife River Flint
Knife River Flint is a coffee-colored, translucent sedimentary stone that was mined from flint quarries along Spring Creek in Mercer and Dunn counties, North Dakota. The flint was used to manufacture tools by means of controlled chipping. Knife River Flint was used during several prehistoric periods, beginning more than eleven thousand years ago. As Knife River Flint could be easily worked, it was also traded as far as Alberta, Colorado, New York, and Wisconsin, and was probably North Dakota's first export commodity.
Nomads are people who move from place to place frequently, generally in search of food or other resources. In North Dakota, some prehistoric peoples followed the buffalo herds, while others became nomadic due to frequent attacks from stronger tribes. Nomadic people may identify a territory or area as their home rather than establishing a single site or village as their permanent home base.
The period of human occupation before any written records were kept is known as the prehistoric period. While the earliest archaeological site in North Dakota is dated to about 9500 B.C., the first written record was made in 1738 A.D.
Projectile Points
Projectile points are spear, lance, arrow, or dart tips. Spears and lances had long, narrow points, and darts thrown with atlatls were of medium length, triangular in shape, with hafting notches from the corner. Arrows were the smallest, also triangular, with hafting notches at a right angle to the base. It is not always possible for archaeologists to determine whether a point is from a spear, dart, or arrow, so they are generally referred to as projectile points. Prehistoric projectile points were usually made of chipped stone, while historic points were usually made of iron. Bone and copper points have also been found, and dated to prehistoric periods.
Smallpox is an infectious disease caused by a poxvirus transmitted from person to person, which causes high fever and a characteristic rash. Smallpox may be fatal to as many as one-third of those who are infected. Fatality rates were far higher among the Native people of the Americas because they had never before been exposed to it, had no immunities, and didn't understand how it was being spread. In 1781 A.D., smallpox swept the entire northern plains area, killing thousands of Native Americans, nearly wiping out some tribes.
A tipi is a tent supported by poles arranged in a conical form. In prehistoric times, the frame would be covered by buffalo hides, which were replaced by canvas in the Early Historic Period. Several buffalo hides were needed to cover a single tipi, and when camps were moved, the tipi covers were taken apart and carried on a tipi pole travois. Tipis were the primary houses for nomadic groups, and served as temporary housing for Plains Village people during hunting expeditions.
Tipi Rings
Tipi rings were circles of field stones used to hold the outer edges of tipis down during bad weather. When the tents were dismantled, the stones were rolled off the tipi edge, and often reused during return trips. Some prehistoric village sites are are marked by such rings.
Trade Goods
Trade goods were items used to barter for other items. The term might refer to metal, glass, ceramic, or textile traded by Europeans in exchange for furs, buffalo meat, corn, and other commodities during the Early Historic Period. Among the things that Native American tribes in North Dakota bartered for were sheet iron, chisels, files, glass beads, mirrors, cloth, hoes and other tools, weapons and ammunition.
Trade Network
A trade network refers to a series of people, located near various natural resources, who would join together in order to trade items that the others did not have available to them. Prehistoric people in North Dakota traded Knife River Flint for shells from the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean, or for copper from Wisconsin or Michigan. Europeans introduced a variety of trade goods into the existing system, moving horses and guns through North Dakota in the trade network.
A wigwam is a dome-shaped, rounded structure, sometimes used by the Plains people of North Dakota. Usually seasonal structures, the frame of a wigwam was constructed of young green saplings, ten to fifteen feet long, which would be bent by stretching the wood. The framework would be covered with grass or hides, while the interior would be lines with brush and grass beds, over which robes were spread.

Of Interest