It seems to be archaeology day at Buffalo Post (see previous post here). This story is about 17 Crow Nation students looking into their own past during an archaeology field school in a remote part of the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area on what is now the Montana-Wyoming border.
They’re helping excavate a site that National Park Service archaeologist Chris Finley stumbled upon a year ago while surveying the area in advance of a plan plan by the Western Area Power Administration to rebuild transmission lines through the park, according to this Billings (Mont.) Gazette story by Lorna Thackeray:
Four-poled tepees, unique to the Crow, would have stood tall on the sparsely vegetated campsite, their hide skirts held down by heavy stones gleaned from the rumbling landscape in the foothills of the Pryor Mountains. Whirls of smoke would have been rising from lodges of varying size. There would have been tepees for families large and small. Some may have been used to protect their dogs against brutal weather blowing down the canyon. Dogs were an integral part of nomadic life. Before horses, they were the primary beasts of burden. They barked warnings of an enemy approach and, in times of hunger, provided a food supply. The largest of the tepees may have served communal or ceremonial purposes.
“It really sparks your imagination,” says James Vallie, who last year was part of the first Crow field archaeology school funded through a grant from the National Park Foundation.