UM digs find 10,000-year-old Native oasis

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Thousands of years before Euro-Americans “discovered” the bubbling mudpots and eruptive geysers of what is now Yellowstone National Park, early Americans were spending part of their summer camping in the Yellowstone Lake area.

The reasons are several.

Obsidian, a valued rock used to create razor-sharp points for weapons and tools, is located about 20 miles to the northwest at Obsidian Cliff. The lake area contains a variety of flora – everything from camas to wild onions – that would have created a great stew or to create medicines. And there was plenty of wildlife in the region. One archaeological site turned up blood residue from bear, wolf and deer as well as rabbit sinew.

Hale said analysis of campsites showed some visitors could have been small parties of male hunters, while others were families staying for longer periods.

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