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Rethinking the Study of Landscape Management Practices Among Hunter-Gatherers in North America

  • Kent G. Lightfoot (a1), Rob Q. Cuthrell (a2), Chuck J. Striplen (a3) and Mark G. Hylkema (a4)

Abstract

There has been little movement to systematically incorporate the study of indigenous landscape management practices into the method and theory of hunter-gatherer research in North American archaeology, despite a growing interest in this topic. The purposes of this article are twofold. One is to address why, until quite recently, archaeologists have been reluctant to engage in the current debate about the scale and ecological impact of these practices, particularly anthropogenic burning. We argue that this stems from a long tradition of viewing hunter-gatherers as passive, immediate-return foragers, as well as from the daunting methodological challenges of identifying landscape management activities using archaeological data. Our second purpose is to explore how archaeologists can make significant contributions to our understanding of past resource management practices through the creation of new kinds of collaborative, interdisciplinary eco-archaeological programs. Based on the current work of scholars in archaeological and environmental disciplines, as well as on our own implementation of such an approach in central California, we discuss the importance of maintaining mutual relationships with local tribes, the challenges of coordinating multiple data sets, and the process of rethinking our analytical methods and temporal scales for undertaking hunter-gatherer studies.

Resumen

Ha habido poco movimiento para incorporar sistemáticamente el estudio de los prácticos de direcciones recursos indígenas en el método y en la teoría de las investigaciones de los cazador-recolectores en la arqueología Norte Americana, a pesar del interés creciendo en este tema. Hay dos propósitos de este artículo. Uno es abordar porqué, hasta recientemente, arqueólogos han sido reacios en dedicarse dentro del debate actual del escalo y del impacto ecológico de estos prácticos, particularmente los fuegos antropológicos. Argumentamos que este viene de una gran tradición de pensar en los cazador-recolectores como forrajeros pasivos quienes regresan inmediatamente a sus tierras ya habitadas. También viene de los desafíos metodológicos tan desalentados en identificando los prácticos de direcciones recursos usando datos arqueológicos. Nuestro según propósito es explorar cómo arqueólogos pueden hacer contribuciones significantes a nuestro entendimiento sobre los práctieos de direcciones recursos pasados por la creación de nuevos tipos de programas colaborativos, interdisciplinarios, y ecológicos. Basada en el trabajo actual de los eruditos en disciplinarios arqueológicos y ecológicos, además de nuestra implementáción de tal enfoque en California Central, discutimos la importancia en manteniendo relaciones mutuales con tribales locales, los desafíos en coordinando múltiples conjuntos de datos, el proceso de repensar nuestros métodos analíticos y escalos temporales para emprender los estudios de los cazador-recolectores.

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