Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

August 1991


Published in Great Plains Research 1:2 (August 1991), pp. 233–248. Copyright © 1991 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


Gun part assemblages from several Euroamerican and Native American contact period sites from the Plains are compared as a way of examining how firearms were incorporated into Native technology of the Plains region. These data are interpreted in terms of a “fault tree analysis," an operations research technique that identifies potential points of failure in technical systems in order to study patterns of use, maintenance, and reliability. The analysis indicates distinctively different patterns of gun repair and treatment by Indians and Euroamericans but suggests that Indians were quite capable of repairing firearms and that they systematically reused parts from failed arms.