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Plains Indian Rock Art

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Overview

The Plains region that stretches from northern Colorado to southern Alberta and from the Rockies to the western Dakotas is the land of the Cheyenne and the Blackfeet, the Crow and the Sioux. Its rolling grasslands and river valleys have nurtured human cultures for thousands of years. On cave walls, glacial boulders, and riverside cliffs, native people recorded their ceremonies, vision quests, battles, and daily activities in the petroglyphs and pictographs they incised, pecked, or painted onto the stone surfaces.

In this vast landscape, some rock art sites were clearly intended for communal use; others just as clearly mark the occurrence of a private spiritual encounter. Elders often used rock art, such as complex depictions of hunting, to teach traditional knowledge and skills to the young. Other sites document the medicine powers and brave deeds of famous warriors. Some Plains rock art goes back more than 5,000 years; some forms were made continuously over many centuries.

Archaeologists James Keyser and Michael Klassen show us the origins, diversity, and beauty of Plains rock art. The seemingly endless variety of images include humans, animals of all kinds, weapons, masks, mazes, handprints, finger lines, geometric and abstract forms, tally marks, hoofprints, and the wavy lines and starbursts that humans universally associate with trancelike states. Plains Indian Rock Art is the ultimate guide to the art form. It covers the natural and archaeological history of the northwestern Plains; explains rock art forms, techniques, styles, terminology, and dating; and offers interpretations of images and compositions.

University of Washington Press

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Editorial Reviews

European Review of Native American Studies

In the empire of rock art (at least on the northwestern plains), Keyser and Klassen reign supreme.

American Archaeology

An outstanding study of the rock art of the northern Great Plains from Colorado to Alberta. This area contains some of the earliest evidence of human occupation in the Americas, and there is rock art covering thousands of years.

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Product Details

Table of Contents

Contents

Authors' NotePrefacePart I. Introduction and Background1. Introduction to Rock Art2. Dating Rock Art3. Interpreting Rock Art4. The Area and Its History5. Native Cultures of the Northwestern Plains

Part II. Rock Art Traditions of the Northwestern Plains6. Early Hunting Tradition7. Columbia Plateau Tradition8. Dinwoody Tradition9. En Toto Pecked Tradition10. Pecked Abstract Tradition11. Foothills Abstract Tradition12. Hoofprint Tradition13. Ceremonial Tradition14. Biographic Tradition15. Robe and Ledger Art Tradition16. Vertical Series Tradition

Summary and Conclusions Appendix. Sites Developed for the PublicBibliographyIndex

University of Washington Press

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