Nebraska Academy of Sciences


Date of this Version



Published in Transactions of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, Volume 1 (1972).


Copyright 1972 by the author(s).


Selected villages of 18th century Arikara Indians are seriated on the basis of presumably sensitive pottery traits. Two agreeing temporal models, one statistical and one graphical, are derived from the manipulated data. The statistical model is further abstracted to present a relative temporal placement of the individual villages. The models and their interpretations differ somewhat from previous work on the subject. Certain ideas regarding modification of the techniques employed are discussed. A few thoughts are also injected regarding the use of temporal models, seriation, and statistics in general for the interpretation of past behavior.


Twenty years of salvage archeology in the Middle Missouri region of North and South Dakota have produced a wealth of raw data on the material culture of the prehistoric and early historic inhabitants. Most of the archeology stems from the numerous village sites of peoples considered to be ancestral to Arikara and Mandan/Hidatsa Indians. The general outlines of the regional culture history have been established for some time (Lehmer, 1954, pp. 138-154). As presently interpreted, the outlines reflect uneven periods of flux and convergence from about A.D. 1000 to 1800. Only recently have usable taxonomy and synthetic statements appeared utilizing the raw data to advantage (e.g. Lehmer and Caldwell, 1966, pp. 511-516; Wood, 1967, pp. 116-168). In this article a small amount of the data is used to identify certain relationships.

The purpose of this study is to construct a plausible temporal model of certain Arikara villages primarily on the basis of archeological evidence. From this model, relative temporal placement of individual villages can be deduced for further interpretation. The villages are all components of the Bad River phase (Hoffman and Brown, 1967, pp. 323-343; Lehmer and Jones, 1968), one facet of 18th century Arikara material culture along the Missouri River in present-day South Dakota. The Bad River phase is only a portion of known Arikara settlements and the villages selected for this study comprise about a third of the known phase components.