The Motivation for the Seasonal Movement of Bison Hunters on the Northwestern Plains of North America

Banner Oetelaar

Gerald Oetelaar

Prof. Gerald A. Oetelaar, Department of Archaeology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

To western researchers, the structure of the grasslands ecosystem on the Northwestern Plains of North America is determined primarily by climate as modified locally by topography, drainage, and sediments. The seasonal availability of the different grasses determines the migratory behaviour of bison which, in turn, influences the movement of human populations. Bison ecology and behaviour also determine the patterns of human aggregation and dispersal. Long-term climatic fluctuations, as measured by effective moisture and temperature, influence the net primary productivity of the short grass plains and, by extension, the size of the bison population.

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