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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Mormon Sociopolitical Development in Northern Arizona, 1876-1906: Implications for a Model of Prehistoric Change

  • Author(s): Lightfoot, Kent G.
  • et al.

Pueblo ethnographies are often used as sources of analogy in research dealing with prehistoric sociopolitical organization in the American Southwest. By relying on this implicit use of the direct historical approach, the organizational complexity of some prehistoric groups has been underestimated. It is suggested that the selection of ethnographic analogues be based on the question being asked by a researcher, rather than the cultural affiliation of the prehistoric group being studied. This paper focuses on the use of an alternative source of ethnographic information-the historic (1876-1906) Mormon occupation of the Upper Little Colorado region, East-Central Arizona. Information on Mormon subsistence-settlement systems is used to evaluate several assumptions of a commonly used environmental model that attempts to explain prehistoric change on the Colorado Plateau.

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