O’Neill, Brian L. , Thomas J. Connolly, and Dorothy E. Freidel, with contributions by Patricia F. McDowell and Guy L. Prouty. A Holocene Geoarchaeological Record for the Upper Willamette Valley, Oregon: The Long Tom and Chalker Sites. University of Oregon Anthropological Papers 61, Published by the Museum of Natural History and the Department of Anthropology, University of Oregon, Eugene. 2004.


Data recovery investigations at two prehistoric sites were prompted by the Oregon Department of Transportation’s realignment of the Noti-Veneta segment of the Florence to Eugene Highway (OR 126) in Lane County, Oregon. The Long Tom (35LA439) and Chalker (35LA420) archaeological sites are located on the floodplain of the Long Tom River in the upper Willamette Valley of western Oregon. Investigations at these sites included an examination of the geomorphic setting of the project to understand the processes that have shaped the landscape and to which its human occupants adapted. The cultural components investigated ranged in age between about 10,000 and 500 years ago.

Geomorphic investigation of this portion of the Long Tom River valley documents a landform history spanning the last 11,000 years. This history is punctuated by periods of erosion and deposition, processes that relate to both the preservation and absence of archaeological evidence from particular periods. The identification of five stratigraphic units, defined from trenching and soil coring in the project area, help correlate the cultural resources found at sites located in the project. Stratigraphic Unit V, found at depths to approximately 250 cm, is a clayey paleosol with cultural radiocarbon ages between 11,000 and 10,500 cal BP. Unit N, with radiocarbon ages between approximately 10,000 and 8500 cal BP, consists of fine-textured sediments laid down during a period of accelerated deposition. An erosional unconformity separates Unit IV from the overlying Unit III. In the archaeological record, this unconformity represents a gap of nearly 3000 years, from 8500 to 5700 cal BP, and corresponds to a period of downcutting in the Willamette system that culminated with a transition from the Winkle to Ingram floodplain surfaces. Unit III sediments are sandy loams within which are found numerous oven features at the Long Tom, Chalker, and other nearby archaeological sites, and date between approximately 5700 to 4100 years ago. A near absence of radiocarbon-dated sediments in the project area between approximately 4100 and 1300 years ago suggests either a lack of use of this area during this period, or an erosional period that was apparently less severe on a regional scale. Units II and I are discontinuous bodies of vertically accreted sediments which represent a period of rapid deposition in the project area during the last 1300 years. It is estimated that Unit I sediments were deposited within the last 500 years.

Investigations at the Long Tom site discovered three cultural components. Components 1 and 3 are ephemeral traces of human presence at the site. The Late Holocene-age Component 1, found within Stratigraphic Units I and II, contains a small assemblage of chipped stone tools and debitage dominated by locally obtainable obsidian. The Early Holocene-age Component 3 contains a single obsidian uniface collected from among a scatter of fire-cracked rock and charcoal found within Stratigraphic Unit IV. Charcoal from this feature returned a radiocarbon age of 9905 cal BP. Contained within Stratigraphic Unit III, Component 2 presents evidence for a concentrated period of site use between approximately 5000 and 4000 cal BP. Geophysical exploration of the deep alluvial sediments with a proton magnetometer located magnetic anomalies, a sample of which was mechanically bisected and hand-excavated for closer analysis. A total of 21 earth ovens and two rock clusters was exposed in sediments associated with radiocarbon ages clustering about 4400 cal BP. Charred fragments of camas bulbs and hazelnut and acorn husks were recovered from the ovens. Few tools were discovered in their vicinity. Larger-scale excavations within the Middle Holocene sediments at the west end of the site discovered what is interpreted as a residential locus.

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January 10, 2024 | Comments Off | Topic:  Native Cultures, Cultural Landscapes

Connolly, Thomas J.,  with contributions by Joanne M. Mack, Richard E. Hughes, Thomas M. Origer, and Guy L. Prouty. The Standley Site (35D0182): Investigations into the Prehistory of Camas Valley, Southwest Oregon. University of Oregon Anthropological Papers No. 43. Published by the Department of Anthropology and Oregon State Museum of Anthropology University of Oregon, Eugene, October 1991.


The Standley site (35D0182) is located at the southern edge of Camas Valley, a small basin on the upper Coquille River of southwestern Oregon. The earliest radiocarbon date from the site is 2350 ± 80 years ago, but obsidian hydration analysis suggests that initial occupation may have begun between 4500 and 5000 years ago. Both obsidian hydration and radiocarbon evidence suggest that occupation was most intense and continuous between 3000 and 300 years ago.

Cultural patterns at the Standley site are unclear at both ends of this occupation span; the remains of the earliest use episodes were disturbed by later prehistoric occupations, and the upper levels of the site were severely disturbed by historic activity. Radiocarbon evidence for the latest occupation period (within the last 500 years) includes dates from the basal portions of posts preserved in the lower levels of the site. The best preserved cultural patterns at the site, presumed to be associated with a set of radiocarbon dates ranging from 1180 to 980 years ago, are within a relatively rock-free area in the north-central portion of the main excavation block. Distinct artifact clusters, and possible structural remains, are present within this area.

The large size of the Standley site, the possible presence of structures, and the variety and density of artifact types present-including an enormous array of chipped stone tools, hammers and anvils, edge-ground cobbles, abrading stones, pestles, stone bowls, clay figurines, painted tablets, and exotic material such as schist, pumice, and steatite-indicate that the site served as a substantial encampment of some duration. There was some evidence for structural remains (posts and bark), but no clear evidence for semisubterranean housepits such as those reported elsewhere in southwest Oregon. The presence of charred hazelnuts and camas bulbs suggest a probable summer-to-fall occupation.

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January 10, 2024 | Comments Off | Topic:  Native Cultures, Cultural Landscapes

Winnemucca, Sarah (Thocmentony). Life Among the Piutes: Their Wrongs and Claims. Self-published, 1883. Edited by Mary Peabody Mann.

Full text [here]

Sarah Winnemucca (Thocmentony, or Shell Flower, was her Indian name) learned English and Spanish, how to read and write, and became a teacher. She started her own reservation schools, represented the Winnemucca Tribe in Washington, D.C., gave over 300 lectures on behalf of her people, and wrote her autobiography, Life Among the Piutes. It was the first book written in English by a Native American woman. She accomplished all this in an era when women of any color didn’t even have the right to vote.

Sarah Winnemucca was born in 1844. She died after a most eventful life October 16, 2023 at her sister’s home near Henry’s Lake, Idaho.

In 2005 she was honored with a statue in the U.S Capitol, nominated by the State of Nevada.

Some excerpts from Life Among the Piutes, Sarah Winnemucca’s autobiography:

I was born somewhere near 1844, but am not sure of the precise time. I was a very small child when the first white people came into our country. They came like a lion, yes, like a roaring lion, and have continued so ever since, and I have never forgotten their first coming. My people were scattered at that time over nearly all the territory now known as Nevada. My grandfather was chief of the entire Piute nation, and was camped near Humboldt Lake, with a small portion of his tribe, when a party travelling eastward from California was seen coming. When the news was brought to my grandfather, he asked what they looked like? When told that they had hair on their faces, and were white, he jumped up and clasped his hands together and cried aloud–”My white brothers–my long-looked for white brothers have come at last!”…

He had expected so much pleasure in welcoming his white brothers to the best in the land, that after looking at them sorrowfully for a little while, he came away quite unhappy. But he would not give them up so easily. He took some of his most trustworthy men and followed them day after day, camping near them at night, and travelling in sight of them by day, hoping in this way to gain their confidence. But he was disappointed, poor dear old soul!

I can imagine his feelings, for I have drank deeply from the same cup. When I think of my past life, and the bitter trials I have endured, I can scarcely believe I live, and yet I do; and, with the help of Him who notes the sparrow’s fall, I mean to fight for my down-trodden race while life lasts…

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December 6, 2023 | Leave a Comment | Topic:  Native Cultures

Garfinkel, Alan P. Paradigm Shifts, Rock Art Studies, and the “Coso Sheep Cult” of Eastern California. North American Archaeologist,  Spring 2007.

Full text [here]

Review by Mike Dubrasich

The impression was left by some (long-departed) anthropologists that the Paiute-Shoshone people were less evolved than other tribes, particularly less so than the transplanted Euro tribes that generate modern anthropologists.

The august (even in death) Dr. Julian H. Steward claimed that, “the Basin-Plateau–or “Numic”–division of Shoshonean-speakers had the simplest culture in the Western Hemisphere, and in some respects the entire world.”

Omer Stewart claimed otherwise in a series of Indian Land Claim cases that O. Stewart subsequently won and J. Steward lost.

The proof of ancient culture, one way or the other, might be found in the petroglyphs of the Cosos Mountains. The Cosos are adjacent to Owens Valley and Death Valley in California. Although dwarfed by the nearby Sierra Nevada and Panamint mountain ranges, the Cosos are home to the greatest collection of prehistoric rock art in North America and possibly the world.

In Paradigm Shifts, Rock Art Studies, and the “Cosos Sheep Cult” of Eastern California, Alan Garfinkel presents an excellent discussion of the meaning behind the Cosos rock art and the intentions of the ancient artists.

Selected excerpts:

ABSTRACT — One of the more spectacular expressions of prehistoric rock art in all of North America is the petroglyph concentration in the Coso Range of eastern California.  These glyphs have played a prominent role in attempts to understand forager religious iconography.  Four decades ago, Heizer and Baumhoff (1962) concluded that Great Basin petroglyphs were associated with hunting large game and were intended to supernaturally increase success in the hunt. Similarly, in their seminal work Grant et al. (1968) concluded that the mountain sheep drawings of the Coso region bolstered the “hunting magic” hypothesis.

However, this hypothesis has become increasingly marginalized by a prevailing view that considers most rock art as an expression of individual shamanistic endeavor.1  This paper explores comparative ethnologic and archaeological evidence supporting the hunting magic hypothesis.   I place this explanatory framework in a fuller context based on a contemporary understanding of comparative religion and the complexity of forager symbolism.  The paper argues that the preponderance of Coso images are conventionalized iconography associated with a sheep cult ceremonial complex.   This is inconsistent with models interpreting the Coso drawings as metaphoric images correlated with individual shamanic vision quests.

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December 5, 2023 | Leave a Comment | Topic:  Native Cultures