This book offers a new approach to the use of linguistic data to reconstruct prehistory. The author shows how a well-studied language family-in this case Uto-Aztecan-can be used as an instrument for reconstructing prehistory.
The main focus of Shaul's work is the mapping of Uto-Aztecan. By presenting various models of Uto-Aztecan prehistory, by assessing multiple models simultaneously, and by guiding readers through areas where the evidence is not so clear, Shaul helps nonspecialists develop the tools needed for evaluating various historical linguistics models themselves. He evaluates both archaeological and genetic evidence as well, placing it carefully alongside the linguistic evidence he knows best. Shaul's thorough treatment provides many new avenues for future research on the historical anthropology of western North America.