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Species adapted to the wetter world–such as mammoths, camels, and horses–died out, opening ecological niches in the Plains grassland.

Most of these niches were filled by bison, which were becoming smaller and more mobile in order to be more effective in the drier climate. Around the time that the larger game disappeared, nomadic hunters shifted from Clovis-style spear points and arrowheads to the smaller Folsom points and heads, which were used until about 8000 b.c.

Plains residents began experimenting with pottery and more sedentary villages at least as early as 2,000 years ago.

Ancestors of the Mandans and Hidatsas eventually settled in fortified villages along the Missouri River, where they raised corn, beans, and squash.

Plains hunters used buffalo jumps like the Head-Smashed-In site in southwestern Alberta as early as 5,500 years ago.

Along with the bison, Indian hunters' prey included deer, elk, and other smaller game.

The Plains Indian has been one of the most important and pervasive icons in American culture.

Imagine him, for example, as a young man on horseback.

Such organization allowed for the creation and use of "buffalo jumps," a large funnel of trees, rocks, poles, and people designed to channel stampeding bison over a cliff.

Many Lakotas, however, trace the origins of their people to Wind Cave in the Black Hills and suggest that they were simply in the middle of a long, slow migration home after living elsewhere for a time.

Clarity on this issue will probably not be forthcoming.

Some of the crops these villagers grew became part of the extensive trade networks that linked the horticulturalists with Plains hunters and with peoples outside the Plains.

The Caddo and Wichita trade networks included some of the Pueblos in present-day New Mexico, Cahokia (a city built by the Illinois people near the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers), Hiwasee Island on the Tennessee River, Etowah near the Chattahoochee River, and the Platte River Pawnee communities.

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