The first step in a social science study involves defining
the sample universe or place that is to be studied. The early definition
of the cultural and natural areas of North America by Kroeber and
Wissler were based on the location of native peoples as they were
observed during historic times and categorized by “typical”
or “normal” characteristics from a central core area.
As traits changed through time and place, the people in areas with
less of the typical characteristics become “non-typical”,
“marginal”, or part of a melting pot composed of traits
from different culture areas.
In this essay, the archaeological universe of study (place) is defined
as the Greater Yellowstone Homeland- an environmental and cultural
system that is first viewed in and of itself, and not as a marginal
part of other ethnographically known culture areas.