The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota has had the good fortune of publishing quite a few books that deal with archaeology, on the one hand, and North Dakota, on the other. Every now and then, there’s a happy coincidence, and we publish a book on the archaeology of North Dakota.
Today’s New Book Day celebrates one of these books: Michael G. Michlovic’s and George R. Holley’s Archaeological Cultures of the Sheyenne Bend. This book will join a small handful of books that explore in an engaging and accessible way the pre-European history and archaeology of North Dakota. Michlovic and Holley present a synthesis of over 35 years of archaeological research in the Sheyenne Bend of Ransom County. The book should be of interest both to specialists who want to get a broad overview of the archaeology of the region as well as to nonspecialists who are interested in how archaeologists interpret their finds and produce new understandings of regions and cultures.
More on the book and the press release below the cover image!
This volume presents the results of several decades of archaeological research in the Sheyenne Bend region of southeastern North Dakota. Piecing together evidence from disparate field projects, along with the work done by previous researchers, Archaeological Cultures of the Sheyenne Bend offers a status report on the pre-European era cultures of southeastern North Dakota. Presented in ordinary language, this book constitutes the essential details to make sense of the regional archaeological record.
A New Archaeological History of the Sheyenne Bend
Denizens of eastern North Dakota know that there is more to the history of this region than meets the eye. Mike Michlovic and George Holley pulled together over 30 years of archaeological field experience in southeastern North Dakota to write an accessible new history of the pre-European cultures on the Sheyenne Bend region.
Both Michael Michlovic and George Holley are Emeritus Professor s of Anthropology at Minnesota State University Moorhead, where Michlovic served as chair of the Department of Anthropology and Earth Science and president of the Council for Minnesota Archaeology. Holley excavated across the United States in the Southeast, Midwest, Plains, and Southwest, and in Mesoamerica where prehistoric ceramics became his specialty.
Mike Michlovic remarks that the new book, The Archaeological Culture of the Sheyenne Bend, “is an effort to make our work more accessible to a larger audience, and to put all of the sites we worked into a single story.”
Beginning over 10,000 years ago, Michlovic and Holley welcome us into the world of the communities that lived around what is now the Sheyenne River in Ransom County, North Dakota. Retreating glaciers, the disappearance of Lake Agassiz, and the changing course of the Sheyenne River provide a vivid backdrop to the thousands of years of activity in this region that predate the arrival of Europeans.
For Michlovic and Holley, the story of these societies remains important to this day: “We were both educated as anthropologists, and as such were taught that there are no people in the world who are unimportant, and who, through understanding, don’t have something to teach the rest of us. We feel it is the same with the study of the past. There is something to learn from everyone’s past, not just the from the history of presently dominant societies.”
Michlovic and Holley explain how the sites only gave up their history of the area when combined on a regional scale: “The Shea and Sprunk sites demonstrated the features of a previously unknown cultural entity in the Sheyenne region, the Rustad site by far the oldest site, and one well represented by the cultural deposits, and the Biesterfeldt site, now a National Historic Landmark reflecting the early history of the Cheyenne people.”
Taken together these sites remind us “every people and every place have a past worth knowing, and it is vital that we learn this past before it is lost.”
William Caraher, director of the Digital Press at the University of North Dakota and himself a field archaeologist, said, “Working on this book was particularly rewarding because it combined the press’s interest in archaeology and North Dakota into a book that is both accessible and one of the very few book length studies of North Dakota archaeology published this century.”
Like all books from The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota, it is available as a free download for the press’s website or as a low cost paperback: https://thedigitalpress.org/sheyenne-bend/