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Next Meeting

Dr. Lawrence Loendorf
Bison Underground
May 15, 2019 at 7:00 p.m.
Baldridge Hall, Montrose United Methodist Church
(at the corner of S. 1st Street and Park Avenue)
Image - Larry Loendorf

Hunting and gathering groups around the world, from ancient to modern times, believed in a multi-layer universe with the underground as an important component of the world. In many cultures, it was from the underground that the animals emerged, including bison, the topic of this presentation. Bison inhabiting underground homes is a concept that is especially prevalent among the Hidatsa, Crow and other Siouan-speaking groups who engaged in various practices to encourage the bison to come out to the terrestrial world. These practices involved making rock art images of bison but equally significant, they included placing bison bones in caves, some arranged with the skulls around the outer walls. Plains Indians also made replicas of bison out of stone, some small and others large with the eyes, horns and ribs of the bison represented. At one site, they carved the ribs of a bison on the interior of a cave. At many sites there is an obvious emphasis on birthing bison from the earth.

Dr. Loendorf will present evidence that supports the Siouan practice of placating the bison with stone replicas and of honoring their underground homes with rock art and other features. Loendorf has been associated with Crow Indians for more than 40 years, and many of his ideas come from visits to sites with Crow, Hidatsa and Sioux Indians.

Larry Loendorf grew up in Montana, received a Ph.D. in Anthropology and Archaeology from the University of Missouri and taught at the University of North Dakota for 21 years and then at New Mexico State University for 12 years. He currently coordinates Sacred Sites Research Inc., a non-profit organization that is dedicated to protecting American Indian traditional properties. He is the author of numerous books on rock art and the people who made it, especially on the Great Plains and in the northern mountains. His current research is directed to- ward the rock art at the Hole in the Wall Ranch, Wyoming. For the past three years he has cooperated with the University of Wyoming Archaeology Field School and the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office to record sites and report sites. This work has included consultation with Native Americans.