Paperback / softback
February 2, 2018
125 color illus., 7 maps
9.00 Inches (US)
7.00 Inches (US)
1.65 Pounds (US)
$29.95 USD
v2.1 Reference

Before Yellowstone

Native American Archaeology in the National Park

Since 1872, visitors have flocked to Yellowstone National Park to gaze in awe at its dramatic geysers, stunning mountains, and impressive wildlife. Yet more than a century of archaeological research shows that the wild landscape has a long history of human presence. In fact, Native American people have hunted bison and bighorn sheep, fished for cutthroat trout, and gathered bitterroot and camas bulbs here for at least 11,000 years, and twenty-six tribes claim cultural association with Yellowstone today.

In Before Yellowstone, Douglas MacDonald tells the story of these early people as revealed by archaeological research into nearly 2,000 sites—many of which he helped survey and excavate. He describes and explains the significance of archaeological areas such as the easy-to-visit Obsidian Cliff, where hunters obtained volcanic rock to make tools and for trade, and Yellowstone Lake, a traditional place for gathering edible plants. MacDonald helps readers understand the archaeological methods used and the limits of archaeological knowledge. From Clovis points associated with mammoth hunting to stone circles marking the sites of tipi lodges, Before Yellowstone brings to life a fascinating story of human engagement with this stunning landscape.

About the Author

Douglas H. MacDonald is professor of anthropology at the University of Montana and specializes in Native American archaeology of the Rock Mountains and Great Plains of Montana and Wyoming. The author of Montana Before History: 11,000 Years of Hunter-Gatherers in the Rockies and Plains and coeditor of Yellowstone Archaeology: Northern Yellowstone and Yellowstone Archaeology: Southern Yellowstone and Lithics in the West, he lives in Missoula with his family when not doing fieldwork.


"Fascinating, well-developed, and engaging. The descriptions of archaeological methods and site types will be helpful to those not familiar with archaeology."—Tim McCleary, Department Head of General Studies, Little Big Horn College

"Fills an important educational and outreach gap in the prehistory and archaeological record of Yellowstone National Park."—Mark Baumler, Montana State Historic Preservation Officer

"This important and timely volume balances our understanding of the natural wonders of Yellowstone National Park with its fascinating prehistoric past. The lifeways of Native Yellowstone peoples are presented here as never before, the result of many years of exciting archaeological research."—Pei-Lin Yu, associate professor of anthropology, Boise State University

"This carefully crafted, well-researched book serves as an important introduction to the body of information collected by archaeologists in Yellowstone National Park. Before Yellowstone provides a comprehensive, integrated overview of human occupation for the last 11,000 years, and will be useful to anyone interested in the cultural history of the Greater Yellowstone region."—Beth Horton, park archaeologist, Yellowstone National Park

"MacDonald offers a rare glimpse into the depth of American Indian interactions with one of the country's greatest treasures. Before Yellowstone will help you forge a different connection with the park."—Joe Watkins, (Choctaw), Department of Anthropology, University of Maryland

9780295742205 : before-yellowstone-macdonald
Paperback / softback
240 Pages
$29.95 USD

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