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Volume 30
Number 2
Fall 2013
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An archeologist in a trench excavates the area below the buffalo jump where artifacts and bison bones were discovered In Focus: Archeology in Park Management
Native American culture and prehistoric bison hunting in the Black Hills

By Anne M. Wolley Vawser and Timothy Schilling
Published: 4 Sep 2015 (online)  •  14 Sep 2015 (in print)
The archeological site
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Located in the Black Hills of southwestern South Dakota, Wind Cave National Park has been home to large herds of bison since legislation passed in 1912 established the Wind Cave National Game Preserve. The National Park Service manages the herd at the park to ensure genetic diversity and herd health through a program that is a model for bison management (NPS 2006). Despite the success of this program, little is known about the history of Native American bison-hunting techniques and management practices in what is today the national park. Hence, when the Park Service acquired a 5,556-acre (2,248 ha) tract of land in 2011 that contained what many believed to be an ancient bison jump, park staff sought the help of archeologists from the Midwest Archeological Center to investigate. In 2012 scientists spent three weeks evaluating remains found at this site through survey, mapping, excavation, and geophysical prospection (fig. 1A and fig. 1B). Additional analysis of recovered artifacts continued in the lab to confirm tool type, manufacture, use, and faunal analysis of the bison bone.

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