Although northwestern Wyoming’s mountains may seem remote and unpopulated, they have actually been home to humans for hundreds of generations. “These mountains have witnessed and recorded more than ten millennia of human lives,” says Dr. Larry Todd, the speaker at the next Draper Natural History Museum Lunchtime Expedition at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. The free lecture takes place April 3, 12:15 p.m. in the Center’s Coe Auditorium.
The region’s rich backcountry archaeology serves as an enduring document of those lives. “Unfortunately,” continues Todd, this irreplaceable record is being assaulted and damaged by a number of threats.” In a presentation titled Mountain Heritage at Risk: Fires, Fallacies, and Felons, he discusses what current research tells us about archaeology in the Absaroka Mountains, and how the interaction of various threats impacts and diminishes mountain heritage.
Todd’s program focuses on three of these threats: wildland fires that can consume and alter the archaeological record, the fallacy that the area was an unpopulated wilderness before European contact, and recreational looting and vandalism of sites.
In a career spanning nearly four decades, Todd has participated in archaeological research projects that seek to refine understanding of human-landscape interactions. In addition to his work in the North American Great Plains, the Meeteetse, Wyoming, native has worked in France, South Africa, Ethiopia, Ukraine, and Turkey.
Todd received his BA from the University of Wyoming, and his MA and PhD in anthropology from the University of New Mexico. Research for his doctoral dissertation took him to the Horner bison kill site near Cody, and he has done much work on North American bison kill sites since. Todd has taught archaeology at Denver and Boston universities, the University of Wyoming, and Colorado State University. He currently teaches at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming.
Since 2001, Todd has split fieldwork between winters in Ethiopia investigating the archaeology of early humans, and summers studying human use of high elevation wilderness environments in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. In 2008, Todd returned to the Big Horn Basin to devote most of his research to the prehistory of the area and efforts to promote stewardship of its multiple resources.
The May program takes place May 1, with Dr. Matt Kauffmann discussing mammal migration in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The Draper’s Lunchtime Expeditions series is supported in part by Sage Creek Ranch.
Since 1917, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West has been committed to the greatness and growth of the American West, keeping western experiences alive. The Center, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, weaves the varied threads of the western experience—history and myth, art and Native culture, firearms, and the nature and science of Yellowstone—into the rich panorama that is the American West. The Center of the West has been honored with numerous awards, including the prestigious 2012 National Tour Association’s Award for “favorite museum for groups,” the 2013 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence, and, most recently, one of the “Top 10 Must See Western Museums” by True West magazine.