Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Great Plains Research 5:2 (Fall 1995). Copyright © 1995 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


The history of twentieth-century archaeology as told by its early practitioners is finding an appreciative audience in a generation of anthropological archaeologists that has matured under the regulatory eye of federal environmental protective legislation. This book is the story of the life of one of the discipline's foremost practitioners. Although autobiographical in its organization, many of the book's chapters can be read as stand-alone accounts of Jesse Jennings's reflections on conducting archaeological investigations in the southeast, Plains, and desert west of North America, as well as in Polynesia and Guatemala.

A man who considers himself to have been "a minority most of my life," Jennings discusses many of the events in his early years that helped shape his attitude, perspective, and values. This is an archaeologist who grew up in poverty during the 1920s and regularly sent money to his mother until the early 1950s, who picked the runt from a litter of puppies to nurture as a companion, and who "attacks" an archaeological site via excavation as if it were an "opponent who sets the rules."