Dr. Mark D. Mitchell, Paleocultural Research Group
“Before Lewis and Clark: The Rise and Fall of the Heart River Confederacy, A.D. 1400-1750
The villages and towns near the confluence of the Heart and Missouri rivers stood empty when the Corps of Discovery passed by in October 1804. Two hundred years earlier, though, the political and economic alliance uniting these communities had been the hub of a vast commercial network encompassing 1 million square kilometers of the Northern Plains. Heart River traders dealt in marine shell, copper, pottery, chipped stone raw materials, maize, tobacco, and bison hides and meat. Mobile hunter-gatherers living across a broad swath of interior North America travelled regularly to the settlements on the Missouri and Heart region émigrés took up residence in communities scattered across the region. These population movements, in combination with economic intensification, settlement aggregation, warfare, and other social processes occurring within the Heart River region, built the political-economic landscape that European traders encountered when they entered the Northern Plains in the 1700s. Archaeological methods and archaeological data are crucial for tracking the changing fortunes of the Heart River communities, and for understanding the long-term impact their history had on the course of colonial interaction the Northern Plains.
Mark D. Mitchell (Ph.D.) is the Research Director for Paleocultural Research Group, a member-supported nonprofit organization devoted to research and public education in the archaeology of the Great Plains and Southern Rocky Mountains. Dr. Mitchell’s primary research focuses on the post-1400 archaeology of the Northern Great Plains, with a particular emphasis on the native farming communities of the Upper Missouri in North Dakota. His recent and on-going work includes studies of the indigenous political and economic organization; of warfare and settlement change; and of Northern Plains ceramic technology. Mitchell also studies historic American Indian art, geoarchaeology, high-altitude archaeology, the anthropology of technology, and the history of archaeology. His research has appeared in Plains Anthropologist, Antiquity, American Antiquity, Southwestern Lore, and in a number of book chapters.
Mitchell, Mark D.
2013 Crafting History in the Northern Plains: A Political Economy of the Heart River Region, 1400-1750. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.
Scheiber, Laura L., and Mark D. Mitchell (editors)
2010 Across a Great Divide: Continuity and Change in Native North American Societies, 1400-1900. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.
Ahler, Stanley A., and Marvin Kay (editors)
2007 Plains Village Archaeology: Bison Hunting Farmers in the Central and Northern Plains. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City.
Wood, Raymond W. (editor)
1998 Archaeology on the Great Plains. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence.
Lecture Location: Tattered Cover Book Store, 16th & Wynkoop (Click for Location)