Life before Yellowstone

SCRIPT Life Before Yellowstone Book

before yellowston book; Douglas h MacDonald, university of montana professor geology, montana living, native american history montana yellowstone national park

Missoula author's new book examines native American history in Yellowstone National Park

MONTANA LIVING — Long before Yellowstone National Park became a tourist attraction in 1872, there were people living there.

Archaeological research described in a new book reveals more than 11,000 years of human history on Yellowstone's landscape.

University of Montana anthropology Professor Doug MacDonald uncovers this history in his new book “Before Yellowstone: Native American Archaeology in the National Park,” published Feb. 12 by the University of Washington Press. MacDonald will discuss his book at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, April 21, at The Historical Museum at Fort Missoula.

MacDonald spent the past 11 summer field seasons taking UM students into the park to survey and excavate nearly 2,000 sites. His work reveals the story of the Native American people who hunted bison and bighorn sheep, fished for cutthroat trout and gathered bitterroot and camas bulbs on the land for thousands of years.
His research describes and explains the archaeological significance of popular areas such as the easy-to-visit Obsidian Cliff, where hunters obtained volcanic rock to make tools, and Yellowstone Lake, a traditional place for gathering edible plants.
MacDonald also helps readers understand the archaeological methods used and the limits of archaeological knowledge.
“From Clovis points associated with mammoth hunting to stone circles marking the sites of tipi lodges, ‘Before Yellowstone’ brings to life a fascinating story of human occupation and use of this stunning landscape,” MacDonald said.
For more information call MacDonald at 406-274-8938 or email

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