Montana in
Ancient Times
Ancient Origins and People
During this lesson you will learn much about the
people of long ago who occupied the land we now
call Montana. We will find answers to the questions:
o
How long have they been here?
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What were their lives like?
Get your paper and pen ready, and we’ll begin to
get to know more about early peoples.
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How long have humans
been in Montana?
If you are a non-Indian, then someone in your family
migrated (moved) to Montana from another part of
our country or another part of our world .
If the move happened in the last few decades,
your family likely traveled to Montana by:
oMotorized vehicle (car or truck)
If the migration happened earlier, your ancestors may
have traveled to Montana by:
oTrain
oCovered
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oFoot
wagon
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Montana’s Historic Past:
How do we know what
happened?
Historians are interested in people who immigrated
to the land that is now Montana in the 18th and
19th centuries.
Many written records help us study the historical
past.
Lewis & Clark kept detailed journals.
Other explorers left first-hand written
accounts of their travels.
These early written records are known as primary
documents.
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Montana’s Prehistoric Past: How can we
learn about it if we have no primary
documents?
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When primary documents don’t exist,
archaeologists can study artifacts.
By studying artifacts, we can learn about ancient
lifeways (ways of life) in Montana, such as:
 Dates of arrival of prehistoric people
 Travel routes of prehistoric people
 Daily life of prehistoric people.
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How long have there been
people living in the area that
is now Montana?
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Many archaeologists believe the first
people arrived in Montana at least
12,000 years ago.
Some archaeologists believe the first
people arrived thousands of years earlier
than that.
Some Native Americans believe their
ancestors were created here and have
always lived in the land now called
Montana.
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How did immigrants in ancient
times get to Montana?
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One theory states that humans migrated from
northeastern Asia to the New World during the last
Ice Age and then migrated all the way to the tip of
South America.
An opposing theory is that migrants arrived first in
South America and then walked north.
Other theories suggest the first people to the New
World came from:
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Greenland and Iceland
Australia
Pacific Islands
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Map - Archaeological Sites
To use the PBS NOVA interactive map of unearthed sites
of ancient humans, click on the image below.
Scroll
to the red dots on the map to find out the
information about each site.
Click on the back button to return to this slide.
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What is the Bering Land Bridge
theory?
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It is a theory that states that early people
walked from Siberia, in northeastern Asia, to
what is now Alaska, during periods of time
called Ice Ages, across a strip of land.
This wide strip of exposed land connecting
Asia and North America is called Beringia.
As water rose during warmer periods
between Ice Ages, the land bridge would
disappear.
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Where was Beringia?
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Travel through Montana During
Glacial Periods
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Archaeologists believe that
seasonal warming periods melted
the edges of glaciers and created
ice-free corridors (paths) allowing
people to migrate between the
mountains and the plains.
Archaeologists study remnants of
ancient trails through Montana for
clues to the past movements of
people.
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Montana’s 10,000-year-old trail
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When Montana’s early travelers walked
through the ice-free corridor, they used a
system of trails we now call The Old North
Trail.
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The paths extend over a corridor that is about
50 miles wide and stretches from the shores
of Watson Lake in the Yukon Territory to the
deserts of New Mexico.
In Montana, the path follows the eastern edge
of the Rocky Mountains, The Rocky
Mountain Front.
Early peoples could find shelter, wood, water,
and plant and animal food sources.
The trail played an important role in
commerce.
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The Old North Trail System –
Physical Evidence
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Scientists have found hunting drive lines and
tipi rings along the trails.
Ruts still preserved in the dirt may indicate
that some early travelers used a travois.
About 80% of the paths between Calgary and
Helena are still recognizable.
Rock cairns (stones intentionally stacked as
landmarks and symbols) occur along the
route.
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Travois Used by
Migrating Tribes
The travois would be
harnessed to a
dog, which served
as a pack animal.
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Tipi Rings
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Tipi ring west of Ringling, Montana on
Sixteenmile Creek, no date, unidentified
photographer.
Courtesy of Montana Historical Society.
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Cave Art
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We have more evidence of ancient Montana
peoples in Pictograph Caves art.
http://montanakids.com/things_to_see_and_do/state_parks/pictograph.htm
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The Old North Trail System – Oral
Tradition
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Walter McClintock went to Montana in 1896. For four
years he lived among the Blackfeet. Chief Mad Dog
adopted him. McClintock produced the primary
source on the Blackfeet just after the collapse of their
traditional way of life.
In McClintock’s book, he shares an account of “The
Old North Trail” as described by a Blackfoot chief
named Brings Down the Sun. If you want to read part
of the account, click on the hyperlink. Click on the
back button to return to this slide. (http://www.sacredtexts.com/nam/pla/ont/ont36.htm.)
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Which theory of the
origin or arrival of
people in the New
World is true?
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We don’t know for sure which origin or travel theory is
most true. But what we must realize is that North
America and Central and South America were
already inhabited when European explorers and
immigrants arrived.
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600+ separate tribes lived in North America.
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These peoples exhibited great diversity in
physical appearances and lifeways.
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Diversity of North American Tribes
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Each tribe had its own traditions, tools,
houses or shelters, and languages.
Even today, different tribes have their own
stories of creation and accounts of where
they come from.
These different tribes represent the first
human inhabitants of Montana.
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Native American Origin Stories
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The ancient ancestors of modern
American Indians created verbal records
of their experiences.
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Each generation of descendants passed
the stories along to the next generation.
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Each successive generation of Indians
heard these stories as accounts of
actual, not fictional, events.
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A Blackfoot Creation Story – Land
of the Sleeping Dinosaurs
Creation tales
All tribes have unique creation tales.
 Different tribes’ tales may have common elements.
 Creation tales of tribes often have common
elements to non-native creation tales.
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We’ll gather in a circle to listen to a creation story of
Montana’s Blackfeet Tribe.
Listen for elements that remind you of Montana.
[Teacher, please pause here to read story and follow up with discussion.]
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What do we know about the
Stone Age in Montana?
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Direct information about details in ancient life
is impossible to find. So archaeologists turn
to historical information and oral history from
Indian people to help reconstruct the distant
past.
American Indian traditions – folkways
passed down over many generations.
 American Indian legends – stories told
from one generation to another and
handed down for hundreds of years.
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New Songs from Ancient Stories
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Blackfeet singer/songwriter - Jack Gladstone
Great-great grandfather was Red Crow, a
chief of the Blood Tribe.
 Grandmother recounted the stories of her life
and the Blackfeet people to Jack.
 Grew up in the oral tradition.
 Discovers adventure and harmony within
Indian and white cultures.
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http://www.jackgladstone.com/Pages/biography.htm (optional)
Song: Legends of Glacier
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We’ll listen to the audio CD.
[Insert American Indian Music CD and cue to Track # 8 and advance to
next slide to see lyrics.]
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Song Lyrics
Grandmother’s stories ignited the spark
Now warming the heart of a man
Fantastic odysseys, requested dreams,
We’re part of our first human clans
Elders have summoned the auras of old
Remembered and treasured through time
Don’t be surprised. This land comes alive
And Legends of Glacier survive.
Gray Wolf and Beaver Chief caretake the land
The heart is the Sun’s beating drum.
Owl eyes and eagle wings perfect the view
Where spirit and matter are one.
Permit your wings to transcend the thing
Consuming and cluttering life
You’re one on one with Creator Sun
And Legends of Glacier survive.
Ahh – Listen deep to the voice
That calls from our home long ago
We’re on the knife edge of time
We feel, but never quite know.
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The youngest of all of
her children are us.
The ones still learning
respect
The soul awakens, the
heart is revived
And Legends of
Glacier Survive.
Keep Legends of
Glacier alive.
Legends...
Legends of Glacier
©2002 Jack W.
Gladstone
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Montana’s Archaeological Record
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Goes back about 12,000 years.
Divides the time of human
presence into three major
phases or periods. Each
period:
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Covered a distinctive time
frame
Had different ways in which
people hunted and gathered
food.
Showed differences in ways
people made their tools and
weapons.
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Early Prehistoric Period
The Early Prehistoric Period
took place around the end of
the last glacial period (Ice
Age.)
Also known as the Paleoindian
Period.
 From about 10,000 B.C. to
6,000 B.C.
 Most discovered sites in
Montana dating from this time
are east of the Rocky
Mountains or in southwest
Montana.
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Early Prehistoric Lifestyle
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People are believed to have been nomadic (moving
from place to place along river valleys and nearby
uplands).
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Moved camps regularly.
Hunted mammals, large and small.
Gathered wild berries, nuts, and plants for food.
Variety of animals provided materials for their clothes.
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Early Prehistoric Lifestyle (cont’d)
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Direct evidence of Paleoindian shelters
has not been found.
Stone, wood, and bone were the materials
used to make tools.
Stone points are large, and likely were
attached to hand-held wooden shafts or
spears.
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High degree of craftsmanship in points.
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Life in One PaleoMontana site
Although direct evidence of Paleoindian shelters
has not been found, we have found direct
evidence of Paleoindians living right here in
southwest Montana.
 Excavation of Barton Gulch living site near Ruby
Reservoir in southwestern Montana has provided
much information about first Montanans.
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We’ll pause the slide show now to visit Barton Gulch
in Google Earth
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Google Earth Latitude Longitude: 45 13 20 –112 06 46
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Prehistoric people in Barton
Gulch
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We’ll view a movie about life in this
long ago site.
 Watch
People of the Hearth:
Paleoindians of the Northern
Rockies. (Runtime 30 minutes.)
 Discuss the movie before moving
on to the next slide.
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An Ancient Process
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In the movie, you observed a person creating stone
tools. Some cultures in remote locations today have
not yet developed metal technology and still rely on
stone tools, the same as the Paleoindians did.
We’ll learn more about stone tools in the next slide
show. Sharp stone tools, like blades and projectile
points, are created by a process known as lithic
reduction, reducing the stone. [optional web site; if you visit,
click on back button to return.]
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Flintknapping is one type of lithic reduction.
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Projectile Points Changed Over Time
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What does this chart tell us about arrowheads
with respect to time?
Explain why you think that might be.
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Middle Prehistoric Period
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Gradual changes in climate.
Also known as the Archaic Period.
Lasted from about 6,000 B.C. to 500 A.D.
Long drought may have forced people to stay
by water so that they became less nomadic.
Small skin-covered wikiups may have been
used for shelter. (After 3,000 B.C. – probably
tipis were used.)
Development of atlatl allowed hunters to stalk
game and kill animals from a greater distance
than a spear did.
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Late Prehistoric Period
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Began with the introduction of the bow and arrow
in Montana.
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Easy to transport
Accurate to use
Rarely preserved, but the many projectile points
found at Late Prehistoric sites indicate the bow and
arrow was used as a weapon.
Lasted from about 500 A.D. to 1800 A.D.
Apparent increase in bison herds.
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Late Prehistoric Lifestyle
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Although bison had been important in earlier
times, by the Late Prehistoric Period people had
built a way of life around seasonal bison hunting
expeditions.
Horses not to be available until 1750 A.D.
 People travel on foot.
 Dogs transport gear (travois).
 Increased use of buffalo drives and buffalo
jumps.
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Late Prehistoric Lifestyle (cont’d)
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Montana has the highest concentration of buffalo jump
sites in North America.
Horses and guns had a profound effect on native
lifeways.
We’ll pause the slide show and use Google Earth to
start from Butte and “fly to” one of the three pishkun
sites below.
Madison Buffalo Jump - Google Earth
Latitude Longitude: 45.78 -111.47
 First Peoples Buffalo Jump - perhaps the
largest buffalo jump in the world. Google
Earth Latitude Longitude: 47.488 111.526
 Wahkpa Chu'gn - Google Earth Latitude
10/3/2015 Longitude : 48.56111 -109.71528
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A few of Montana's important
archaeological sites
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(1) Pipe Creek Quarries
(source of pipestone)
(2) Sun River Medicine
Wheel
(3) First Peoples Buffalo
Jump
(4) MacHaffie Site
(Paleoindian) near Clancy
(5) Madison Buffalo Jump
(6) Anzick Site Paleoindian)
near Wilsall
(7) Pictograph cave
(8) Armell's Creek Tipi Ring
Site
(9) Hagen Site (earth
lodges)
(10) Mill Iron Site
(Paleoindian)
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Montana’s Prehistoric Tribes
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It is not possible to identify all the specific
Indian tribes of Montana during prehistoric
times.
The following tribes are known to have lived
in Montana before the historic period:
Flathead
 Pend d’Oreille
 Kootenai (Ktunaxa)
 Blackfeet
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Tribes That Were Pushed
Westwards by Euro-Americans
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Some tribes moved into Montana from
eastern North America:
Crow
 Sioux
 Cheyenne
 Gros Ventre
 Assiniboine
 Chippewa
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Tribes at the Time of Lewis & Clark
Courtesy of Montana Historical Society
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Discussion Questions
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What does prehistoric mean?
Why is story-telling important?
How did early people come to
Montana?
What were they looking for?
What are some important things
to remember about telling a
story?
Do you have a favorite story?
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