Wildlife Encounters by Lewis and Clark

A Spatial Analysis of Interactions between Native Americans and Wildlife

Human influence on North American ecosystems before European settlement has to be considered, because indigenous peoples brought about changes to the environment long before the arrival of the first Europeans. Native people used fire, modified vegetation, and influenced animal populations, with the result that North America was not a pristine wilderness (White and Cronon 1998). It is well known that Lewis and Clark found an abundance of wildlife in the Plains but encountered little game in parts of the Rocky Mountains and the Columbia Basin, where they often had to rely on dogs and horses for sustenance.

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