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Thematic Study




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Historic Landmarks

History and Prehistory in the
National Park System and the
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The Thematic Framework
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I. The Thematic Framework

I. Cultural Developments: Indigenous American Populations

A. The Earliest Inhabitants

This subtheme deals with the earliest prehistoric inhabitants of areas now making up the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and U.S. possessions who subsisted by various methods of hunting, fishing, and gathering. In general, the subtheme covers the earliest entry of humans into these areas when previously unoccupied, any subsequent migrations that may have taken place, and later social, economic, and other cultural developments. The period began in many areas with early hunters and gatherers, and includes later peoples who practiced more variation in their hunting, fishing, and gathering techniques. Agriculture was unknown or not intensively practiced, and pottery making appeared only toward the end of the period.

The New World was settled prior to 12,000 years ago—when, exactly, is not certain. The first inhabitants are believed to have entered North America from Asia via a land connection that once existed between the two continents. The populating of more southerly sections of North America and the islands of the Pacific and Caribbean occurred later (the Hawaiian Islands of the Pacific, for example, are believed to have been first settled within the last two millenia). Some of the early hunters and gatherers in North America hunted a variety of big game animals, many of which are now extinct. This hunting pattern continued to approximately 8,000 years ago. The peoples that followed wore oriented to a more diversified subsistence base, still using large game animals when available, but often engaging in specialized fishing, snail mammal hunting, and plant collecting activities as well. This period, referred to in many regions as the Archaic, continued to approximately 1000 years ago, but in some areas persisted into historic times. It was during the later stages of the Archaic that the shift to cultivation of agricultural crops began, and the expanded development of sedentary communities, The following facets are intended to cover a majority of pre-Archaic and Archaic cultural developments and adaptations:

 1. The Early Peopling of North America
 2. The Early Peopling of the Pacific
 3. The Early Peopling of the Caribbean
 4. Archaic Adaptations of the Arctic
 5. Archaic Adaptations of the Subarctic
 6. Archaic Adaptations of the Northwest Coast
 7. Western Archaic AdaptatIons (California Area)
 8. Plateau (Columbia/Colorado) Archaic Adaptations
 9. Archaic Adaptations of the Great Basin
10. Archaic Adaptations of the Southwest
11. Archaic Adaptations of the Plains
12. Archaic Adaptations of the Mississippi Valley Region
13, Archaic Adaptations of the Southeast (including the Cumberland Region)
14. Archaic Adaptations of the Caribbean
15. Archaic Adaptations of the Northeast (Including the Ohio Valley Region)
16. Archaic Adaptations in Montana Regions
17. Archaic Adaptations in Arid Lands
18. Archaic Adaptations in Riverine Zones
19. Early Man and Late Pleistocene Environmental Adaptations
20. Human Factors in Terminal Pleistocene Faunal Extinctions
21. The Big Game Hunters
22. Human Osteological Evidence of Early Inhabitants
23. Domestication of the Dog
24. Other

B. Post-Archaic and Pre-Contact Developments

This subtheme is concerned with the appearance of domesticated plants (and in some cases animals) and development of hunters and gatherers into farmers in many areas of North America following the Archaic. It also covers development of specialized maritime, riverine and other adaptations in select areas that allowed for growth of a sedentary way of life that was not specifically agriculturally based. Its culmination is seen in large sedentary communities that developed in areas favorable to agriculture, such as the Southwest, but can also be seem in communities that developed as a result of the use of specialized fishing and hunting techniques or a combination of these and other practices. Maritime and agricultural practices, for example, formed the foundation for cultural developments in both the Hawaiian and Caribbean Islands, and specialized maritime technology supported cultural developments that took place in the Arctic, along the Northwest Coast, and elsewhere. Of course, relatively large, sedentary communities did not develop everywhere and a modified Archaic adaptation survived in many areas into the historic period. This theme covers the period from the end of the Archaic to initial historically recorded contacts of indigenous peoples with nonindigenous peoples. The following facets are intended to cover a majority of post-Archaic cultural developments and adaptations:

 1. Arctic Hunters and Gatherers
 2. Subarctic Hunters and Gatherers
 3. Hunters and Gatherers of Western Littoral and Sierra Regions (California)
 4. Northwest Coast Collectors, Hunters, and Fishermen
 5. Plateau (Columbia/Colorado) Hunters, Gatherers, and Fishermen
 6. Great Basin Hunters and Gatherers
 7. Southwestern Hunters and Gatherers
 8. Southwestern Farmers
 9. Post-Archaic Adaptations
10. Plains Hunters and Gatherers
11. Plains Farmers
12. Post-Archaic Adaptations of the Mississippi Valley
13. Post-Archaic Adaptations of Great Lakes Coastal Regions
14. Hunters and Gatherers of the Eastern Woodlands
15. Eastern Farmers
16. Post-Archaic Adaptations of Eastern Coastal Regions
17. Caribbean Adaptations
18. Post-Archaic Adaptations in Montana (High-Altitude) Regions
19. Post-Archaic Adaptations in Arid Lands
20. Post-Archaic Adaptations in Riverine Zones
21. Late Prehistoric Adaptations in the Western, Central, and Eastern Pacific
22. Physical Anthropology of the American Indian, Eskimo, and Aleut
23. Other

C. Prehistoric Archeology: Topical Facets

The following facets are intended to provide topical aspects from which to assign significance to prehistoric period sites. They can be used singly or in combination with the subthemes and facets listed above. This list is by no means complete and will need to be revised, as necessary, to identify themes and facets that reflect the nation's important pre historic period archeological resources. The list is provided to identify certain aspects of native life depicting activities not readily assignable to one or more of the other subthemes and facets listed above.

 1. Prehistoric Architecture/Shelter/Housing
 2. Prehistoric Technology
 3. Prehistoric Social and Political Organizations
 4. Prehistoric Science/Intellectual Developments
 5. Prehistoric Arts/Handicrafts
 6. Prehistoric Communication
 7. Prehistoric Diet/Health
 8. Prehistoric Economics/Trade
 9. Prehistoric Warfare
10. Prehistoric Religion, Ideology, and Ceremonialism
11. Prehistoric Social Differentiation
12. Prehistoric Settlements and Settlement Patterns
13. Prehistoric Urban Development
14. Prehistoric Rural Development
15. Prehistoric Transportation and Travel
16. Prehistoric Agriculture/Plant Domestication/Horticulture
17. Prehistoric Animal Domestication/Husbandry
18. Prehistoric Demographics
19. Prehistoric Cultural Change
20. Submerged Prehistoric Period Archeological Resources
21. Major Contributions to the Development of Culture Histories
22. Major Contributions to the Development of the Science of Archeology
23. Paleoecology
24. Prehistoric Human Physical Remains
25. Other

It must be noted that archeological values do not end with the prehistoric period but continue into the historic period as well. Many, if not all, of the historic period themes, subthemes, and facets in the framework can have associated nationally significant archeological remains. In some cases archeology is the key discipline that can shed additional light on the historical record concerning a specific theme or its sub-elements. Thus, significant archeological values associated with the themes that follow can and should be identified and classified by the appropriate theme; that is, the specific archeological values that contribute, in whole or in part, to the assignment of the theme(s) to a specific site should be identified, An initiative that deserves special attention, and not adequately included in the following themes, is the identification of nationally significant submerged historic period archeological resources, particularly shipwrecks and other remains of maritime activities.

D. Ethnohistory of Indigenous American Populations

Considered here is the period from the earliest historically recorded contacts between indigenous and non-indigenous people until contemporary times. Evidence for the assignment of ethnohistorical themes may require the integration of archeological findings with ethnographic analysis of documentary materials, ethnographic oral histories, and ethnographic inter views.

A dynamic approach to indigenous experiences in the colonial system and the evolving nation necessitates new orientations to theme categories. As a result, themes, subthemes, and facets better reflect the dimension of change in native cultures and, to a lesser degree, in the lifeways of colonists who interacted with native peoples. The proposed concepts still inadequately capture the spirit of either stability or change, of processes and products of human action in and reaction to new natural and cultural environments, and may require additional refinement.

1. Native Cultural Adaptations at Contact

This facet provides baseline markers of representative cultural adaptations evolved by native peoples in response to local habitats and adjacent groups at the time of historically recorded contact, immediately before non-native cultures have had demonstrable structural impact. Emphasis is on the relationships among native technology, resource use, demographic features and settlement patterns. Family and community organization, economics, including division of labor and economic exchanges, political patterns, religious beliefs and practices, and intertribal relations are considered, too. This facet applies to cultures of the continental United States, including Alaska, as well as the Pacific and Caribbean. It ranges temporally from the 15th to the 20th centuries, when contact with Hawaiians and Alaskans became widespread.

a. Native Adaptations to Arctic Environments
b. Native Adaptations to Subarctic Environments
c. Native Adaptations to Northwest Coast Environments
d. Native Adaptations to the Western Littoral and Sierra Environments (CA)
e. Native Adaptations to Southwestern Environments
f. Native Adaptations to Plateau Environments
g. Native Adaptations to Great Basin Environments
h. Native Adaptations to Plains Environments
i. Native Adaptations to Northeastern Environments
j. Native Adaptations to Southeastern Environments
k. Native Adaptations to Caribbean Environments
l. Native Adaptations to Micronesian Environments
m. Native Adaptations to Polynesian Environments

2. Establishing Intercultural Relations

This facet emphasizes bases for early interactions between native and non-native cultures in the continental United States, Hawaii, Alaska, and in the Caribbean, Micronesia, and Polynesia. It considers economic, political, and religious bases in addition to the individuals or groups responsible for intercultural contact.

a. Trapping and Fishing for Maccomets
b. Whaling and other Maritime Activities
c. Military Scouts
d. Guiding Explorers Across New Territories
e. Defending Native Homelands
f. Defending Native Religious Systems
g. Introductions to Foreign Religious Systems
h. New Native Military Alliances
i. Trade Relationships
j. Cash Cropping
k. Helping Foreigners Survive: Providing Food, Clothing, and Shelter

3. Varieties of Early Conflict, Conquest, or Accommodation

This facet considers the effects of British, French, Spanish, and other colonists and newcomers, including Blacks, on native peoples and cultures. It focuses on consequences for the native economy, including resource use and technology; family and community life; religions aspects; and intertribal relations. Demography is considered, too, because the depopulation of customary native areas as a result of disease, military, or other hostile encounters, relocation, resettlement, and population decline also triggered modification of customary culture patterns. This facet begins with the contact period and continues until native peoples are about to be incorporated, by treaty, legislation, land purchase, or other means, into the United States' political apparatus. The period ends sooner for groups in the continental U.S. than those on Hawaii or in Alaska.

a. Transfer of Technology to Native Peoples
    1. Domestic Plants and Animals, Cultivation, and Husbandry
    2. Military Culture, e.g., Organization, Values, Technology, and Materials
    3. Fermentation, Alcoholic Beverages, Tobacco, Drugs, and Medicines
    4. Communication Systems
b. Forced and Voluntary Population Movements
    1. The Establishment of Indian Territory
    2. The Changing Cultural Geography of the Southeast, Northeast, etc.
    3. New Inter- and Intragroup Alliances
    4. Military Removal and Concentration
c. The New Demographics
    1. Disease and Massacres: Their Cultural and Biological Effects
    2. Depopulation of Terrain
    3. Captives, Slaves, and Refugees
d. Changing Settlement Types
    1. Mounted Hunters
    2. Sedentary Villagers
    3. Townspeople
    4. Plantation Laborers
    5. Missionized Settlements
    6. Reservations
    7. Maritime Trade Centers
    8. Pastoralists and Ranchers
    9. Urban Neighborhoods

4. Native Contributions to the Development of the Nation's Cultures

This facet addresses native contributions to the evolving and distinctive national cultures either by the direct transfer of native technology to newcomers, by syncretisms that reflect native or non-native ingenuity in combining materials or concepts from the two traditions, by inspiring non-natives to adapt traditional native cultures to new needs, and by otherwise contributing to the nation's creative pool.

a. Transferring Native Technology to Newcomers: Food, Clothing, Drugs, Medicines, and Means of Transportation
b. Native Roles in Decorative and Fine Arts, Literature, and Music
c. Native Roles in the Development of Humanism, the Social Sciences, and the Law
d. Native Roles in the Changing Images of America: the West, Hawaii, Alaska, etc.

5. Becoming Native American

This facet considers the processes leading to incorporation of native peoples as ethnic subcultures of a more inclusive national economic, social, and political system.

a. Treaties and Lows Formally Defining Native American Statuses and Roles
b. Federal Education programs to Assimilate Native Americans
e. The Role of Missionaries in Assimilation
d. Native Responses to New Economic, Political, and Territorial Arrangements
e. Native Statuses in Mew Stratification Systems
f. The Bureau of Indian Affairs
g. Co-existing Political Bodies: Chiefdoms, Monarchies, and Nations within the Nation

6. The Myth of the Vanishing Native

This facet considers contemporary American Indians, Eskimos, Aleuts, Micronesians, and Polynesians as demographically recovering and culturally viable populations, Evolving adaptations of contemporary peoples are considered, including orientations to mechanized agriculture, timbering, fishing, non-native extractive industries, tourism, and urban living.

a. Ethnic Revitalization
    1. Changing Tribal Statuses, Political, and Religious Systems
    2. Ethnic Associations (including Pan-Indian Groups)
b. Resource Use
    1. Commercial Timbering, Fishing, Agriculture, and Ranching
    2. Extractive Industries
    3. Subsistence Cultivation
    4. 20th-Century Hunters and Herders
c. Tourism
d. Large and Small Industries
e. Contemporary Reservations and Villages
f. Urban Subcultures
g. The Mew Professionals

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Last Modified: Thurs, May 17 2001 10:08 pm PDT

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