Under Prairie Skies

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Under Prairie Skies

The Plants and Native Peoples of the Northern Plains

C. Thomas Shay

312 pages
52 color photographs, 5 b&w photographs, 14 illustrations, 11 maps, 1 table, 1 graph, 1 glossary, 1 appendix, index

Paperback

July 2022

978-1-4962-2338-8

$29.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

July 2022

978-1-4962-3215-1

$29.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

July 2022

978-1-4962-3214-4

$29.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

In Under Prairie Skies, C. Thomas Shay asks and answers the question, What role did plants play in the lives of early inhabitants of the northern Great Plains? Since humans arrived at the end of the Ice Age, plants played important roles as Native peoples learned which were valuable foods, which held medicinal value, and which were best for crafts.

Incorporating Native voices, ethnobotanical studies, personal stories, and research techniques, Under Prairie Skies shows how, since the end of the Ice Age, plants have held a central place in the lives of Native peoples. Eventually some groups cultivated seed-bearing annuals and, later, fields of maize and other crops. Throughout history, their lives became linked with the land, both materially and spiritually.
 

Author Bio

C. Thomas Shay is a senior scholar in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Manitoba. He is the author of The Itasca Bison Kill Site: An Ecological Analysis, as well as numerous articles and book chapters.
 
 

Praise

Under Prairie Skies is a beautiful love story, pure and simple. C. Thomas Shay writes with deep affection, profound knowledge, and obvious fascination about the plants, places, and Native peoples of the North American prairies.”—Nancy J. Turner, distinguished professor emerita in the School of Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria

“As engaging as a National Geographic documentary! Blending science and the humanities, Under Prairie Skies takes its place alongside such classics as Melvin Gilmore’s Prairie Smoke and Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass.”—Lance M. Foster, tribal historic preservation officer and vice chairman of the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska

“C. Thomas Shay skillfully blends ecology, archaeology, botany, and traditional knowledge, revealing the entangled histories of northern plains peoples and environments. Focusing on the wild and domesticated plants they used, he tells a compelling story of human resourcefulness and resilience.”—William Green, former state archaeologist of Iowa and director emeritus of the Logan Museum of Anthropology at Beloit College

“The author’s personal vignettes add warmth, scientific insight, and sometimes drama. The volume is beautifully illustrated and fully but unobtrusively referenced. It invites us to visit, explore, and learn more about [the northern plains’] diverse cultural and natural resources.”—Gayle Fritz, professor of anthropology emerita at Washington University in Saint Louis

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Wide Vistas, Azure Skies
1. Sculpting the Land
2. Land of the Restless Wind
3. The Land Is Sacred
4. Among the Ancient Archives
5. From Gathering to Growing
6. Nature’s Bounty
7. Medicinal and Mystical Plants
8. From Tools to Toys
Epilogue: Under Autumn Skies
Appendix: Selected Wild Plants of the Northern Plains
Glossary
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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