2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 8:15 AM


RHODE, David, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences, Desert Research Institute, 2215 Raggio Parkway, Reno, NV 89512, dave@dri.edu

For the last 13,000 years or so, human populations occupied the Bonneville Basin, engaging in broadly generalized hunting and gathering subsistence pursuits. The nature of these subsistence pursuits and their organization varied significantly through the Holocene, largely (though not entirely) in response to climate-driven environmental change. Historically, the region was inhabited by the Gosiute (a branch of the Western Shoshone), whose traditional way of life was classically described in ethnographies by Julian Steward and others. The Gosiute were organized socially in small-scale family groups and family clusters that moved seasonally to take advantage of shifting abundances of a wide range of wild resources, particularly plant foods (notably small seeds and pine nuts), small game (including insects), and occasionally larger herbivores. Archaeological evidence suggests that a generalized “Archaic” foraging adaptation broadly similar to that of the Gosiute has had a long history in the Bonneville Basin, extending through much of the Holocene. This strategy developed from a rather distinctive predecessor, the so-called “Pre-Archaic” or “Paleoarchaic” foraging system, that characterized the earliest people who inhabited the Bonneville Basin. The “Pre-Archaic” system involved groups that were (probably) highly mobile, focused on high-quality resources and tended to occupy resource-rich wetlands around the Basin. By contrast, Archaic foraging groups maintained smaller regional home ranges (though still quite mobile within those ranges) and made effective use of a wider roster of resources (both low-quality and high-quality) in a broader array of regional environments, with a more diversified subsistence-oriented technology. The main purpose of this paper is to consider the nature and timing of this shift in subsistence adaptation in the context of regional paleoenvironmental change from the early Holocene into the middle Holocene. Secondarily, I examine the paleoenvironmental context of human adaptive change ca. 1500-900 years ago, when mixed farming-foraging societies (the so-called Fremont) first appeared in central and western Utah, occupied significant portions of the Bonneville Basin, and then were subsequently replaced by the historically known Gosiute.