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Prehistory of Greater Yellowstone Lecture Series

  • Buffalo Bill Center of the West 720 Sheridan Ave Cody, WY, 82414 United States (map)

Join the Greater Yellowstone Coalition and the Draper Natural History Museum, at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, in beautiful Cody, Wyoming for our annual, three-part lecture series on Greater Yellowstone. Open and free to the public, this year we are bringing an exciting series focused on the prehistory of Greater Yellowstone, as seen through the eyes of three of the world’s foremost experts on the region. Lectures are designed to educate and inspire locals and visitors alike to the wonders of Yellowstone with a particular focus on the Absaroka-Beartooth mountain ranges and the Bighorn Basin.

The lecture series will be held at the Draper Natural History Museum, the region’s premier resource for scientific knowledge on the lands, waters, and wildlife of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The Draper is the ideal venue to explore questions about the prehistory of Yellowstone with the scientists that know it best. Each hour-long presentation will be followed by a cash bar and hors d’oeuvres.

Speaker & Topic

Dr. George Frison – Prehistoric human subsistence strategies in and around the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, based on archeological site data


Presentations take place at the Draper Natural History Museum, located at 720 Sheridan Avenue, Cody WY 82414.


6:15 p.m. – Presentation
7:15 p.m. – Cash bar and Hors d’oeuvres


Beginning with earliest archeological record found in the Shoshone National Forest and Big Horn Basin, a story of how early people lived – survival and ritual – unfolds.  From gathering and hunting tools and techniques, including the famous sheep traps, to the actual remains of prey found in mummy cave, this is a rich account of human subsistence.  Radiocarbon dates and diagnostic artifacts from archeological sites confirm at least 12,000 years of human presence in and around the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.  Earliest evidence began during the final extinction of several Late Pleistocene animal species and ended with the expansion of European influences.  Human survival during this entire period, required innovative approaches to exploit food resources in many different and continually changing ecological situations.  Twelve thousand years of archeological evidence facilitates the narrative of human relationship and behavior with and within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and peripheral. 


Wyoming's first state archaeologist, George C. Frison joined the U.S. Navy in his youth and served from 1943 to 1946, including a stint in the South Pacific. When he returned from the war, he worked on a family ranch in Tensleep, Wyoming (1946-1962). 

Frison came to University of Wyoming in 1962 to complete his B.S. in anthropology. He went on to earn an M.A. and a Ph.D. in the same field from the University of Michigan in 1967. In 1967 Frison was appointed head of UW's Department of Anthropology, the same year that he was named state archaeologist. During his tenure as state archaeologist, he made major contributions to Plains prehistory and is recognized worldwide for his research on paleo-Indians. He served as state archaeologist until 1984. 

Frison went on to work with the Smithsonian Institution for a year as a Board of Regents professor. He also served as a board member and president for the Plains Anthropologist Society and the Society for American Archaeology. 

During his career, Frison wrote 95 journal articles and 10 books with major publishers.  This includes the book on Wyoming archeology:  Prehistoric Hunters of the High Plains. He has presented scientific papers before more than 60 regional, national, and international boards. In 1997 he was named to the National Academy of Sciences, and he was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Society for American Archaeology in 2005. 

Frison currently resides in Laramie, Wyoming. His commitment to quality research, his selflessness, and quiet western manners have enriched the lives of all who have known him.  He is a professor emeritus at University of Wyoming and continues to pursue field research.