Part of the job of the archaeologist is to reconstruct cultural
history by defining the time and place that past peoples lived.
To accomplish this goal, historic information is combined with archaeological
evidence through a method known as the “direct historical
approach.” Reconstructing culture history and ascribing the
historic period to the past has always been tempting to archaeologists,
but its interface between the historic period and the archaeological
record remains pervasive when the process is used in a selective
and capricious manner. In this essay, some of the assumptions, methods
and problems associated with making connections to the past from
historic records are discussed to connect Bird Woman (Sacajawea)
and her language family — which ultimately originated in the
Valley of Mexico (Uto-Aztecan or Numic speakers) — to the
Greater Yellowstone ecosystem.