Date of Award

August 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Jean L. Hudson

Committee Members

Robert J. Jeske, John D. Richards, Patricia B. Richards, Patrick W. O'Grady


Archaeology, Ethnographic Models, Hunter-gatherer Household Archaeology, Settlement and Subsistence, Spatial Analysis, Zooarchaeoloy


Excavation results from four sites on Tse’tse’ede (The Cold One), which is also commonly known as Steens Mountain, produced archaeological evidence for a prehistoric subsistence and settlement system on the western flank of Tse’tse’ede. Material culture recovered in association with one house, domestic surfaces, and from a high elevation hunting locale provides evidence for human use of the mountain spanning the Archaic. Analysis suggests human occupation of the range intensified post Cal 3000 BP.

The archaeological results were compared against an ethnographically derived model for household and community food security, the basis of settlement and subsistence systems. The model failed to predict the house type revealed during the dissertation fieldwork on Tse’tse’ede. The model did predict the distribution and features at the investigated Tse’tse’ede sites, such as walls and the storage locations of personal items. Subsequent analysis revealed walls and locations associated with specific activities. Taxonomic identifications of recovered faunal specimens indicate a close fit with the predicted use of animal resources. Charcoal and burned botanicals recovered from the subject sites must be subjected to macrobotanical analysis to confirm predictions about floral resources.

Few Northern Great Basin Late Archaic sites with evidence for house structures match the model expectations. The archaeological record includes a diverse array of house types, manufactured in unexpected places, such as in upland environments, and many vary from one to another, and exhibit a general pattern for a decrease in house diameter over time.

Given the documented investment in house structure and the distribution of other similar sites, a population of at least one hundred or more individuals likely inhabited the Little Blitzen River Valley prior to U.S. Military campaigns in the area. Exotic artifacts suggest households were connected to larger regional social and economic networks reaching into Northern California and southwest Oregon.