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Agency

Journal of Northeast Texas Archaeology

Abstract

The debate over the use of fire by Native Americans has been a lively one for many years. Did they or did they not set fires? If they did, how frequently and for what purpose? If not, did they take advantage of naturally occurring fires for the same purposes? If so, how frequently and to what intensity did those natural fires occur? These seem like relatively simple questions that should elicit focused, directed research that would, in tum, produce straightforward answers. In some parts of North America, this has indeed been the case. Ethnographic documentation, corroborated by archaeological research, has produced unequivocal evidence that the first Americans used fire extensively to manipulate the environment in which they lived.

This article examines early historic accounts of Native American use of fire in Texas, and the frequency of natural fires. These data are important not only to our understanding of the extent to which humans altered the landscape, but also how plant communities adapted to fires. Often, we interpret paleoenvironmental data to reflect climatic changes. However, we must also understand the factors that may have contributed to these changes in pollen sequences and soil formation processes.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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