Fossil pollen and charcoal in peat deposits and pond sediments from three sites in the southern Appalachians yielded evidence for a direct relationship between prehistoric Native American use of fire and increases in the importance of oak-chestnut forest between about 3,000 and 1,000 years ago. At Cliff Palace Pond on the Cumberland Plateau of southeastern Kentucky, Tuskegee Pond, in the Ridge and Valley of East Tennessee, and Horse Cove Bog in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, increases in fire frequency corresponded with the change in Native American activities from hunting and gathering in the Late Archaic cultural period toward more sedentary lifestyles and cultivation of native plants in the Woodland cultural period. Forests of oak and chestnut became dominant on upper slopes, with fire-adapted pines establishing on ridge tops and disturbance-adapted hardwoods invading abandoned Indian old fields. We speculate that prehistoric Native American use of fire would have been an intermediate-scale disturbance regime that would have heightened ecotonal contract across plant community boundaries and would also have increased biological diversity across the landscape. Published by Southern Appalachian Botanical Society. Abstract reproduced by permission.