The physical structure and configuration of the landscape play profound roles in how a culture settles and utilizes a region. The following case study in the former Kankakee marsh region of northwestern Indiana exemplifies how subtle topographic variation can have a significant impact on intra-wetland landscape utilization. In the Kankakee marsh landscape, so-called dune islands provided areas of preferential settlement that were reused throughout the prehistory and early history of the region. In particular, these islands were important locales for resource extraction during the Late Archaic period and resource processing and storage during the Middle and Late Woodland and Upper Mississippian periods.

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