Cultural responses to the Medieval Warm Period on the Northeastern Plains : the example from the Lockport site (EaLf-1)

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Flynn, Catherine M.
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This thesis examines the relationship between migration and environmental change among Precontact peoples of the Northeastern Plains of North America. Here, the northward expansion of maize horticulture accompanied the Medieval Warm Period (ca. 800-1400 AD) and probably ended with the onset of the Little Ice Age (ca. 1400-1850 AD). Archaeological evidence for escalating inter-group conflict and endemic food stress on the Northeastern Plains of North America beginning ca. 1150-1200 AD suggests that migration was probably an attractive option; therefore, populations moved away from areas of the greatest economic and social stress between approximately 1200-1400 AD. Some of these people moved north along the Red River to the east bank of the Red River in southeastern Manitoba, Canada between the late 14th to mid- 15th centuries AD. Here, the Lockport site (EaLf-1) contains maize, bell-shaped storage pits, bison scapula hoes, and unusual pottery attributable to the migration of southern maize growers. This occupation marks the northern terminus of maize horticulture in North America; it also coincides with the latter portion of the Medieval Warm Period and with evidence for widespread political realignment to the south in Minnesota, North Dakota and Iowa. Evidence from this site and from adjacent regions is used to demonstrate that the movement of foreign groups into southeastern Manitoba is driven by a combination of sociocultural and climatic factors. Within archaeology there has been a movement to reject models that invoke climate change as a cause of cultural change, dismissing them as oversimplified and deterministic. The approach used here treats socio-political...