In Central States Archaeological Journal 47: 132 (July 2000)
AVOCATIONAL ARCHAEOLOGY: PALEO AMERICAN COMMENTS ABOUT KANSAS
Carl M. Wright

The first traces of peopling in Late Glacial times in Kansas are found in river bottoms and on river terraces today, especially in the Kansas River basin. This suggests Paleo Americans traveled in large seasonal rounds with a big-game subsistence and settlement strategy. Contrary to today's landscape in Kansas, during the Late Glacial times all but the western one-tenth of Kansas was covered with boreal forests with little savanna. Artist's renditions of mammoth munching grass on the Plains are a bit unrealistic. Searching for Paleo sites in Kansas is treading upon former glacial forests and Paleo soils being exposed today by floods, stream pirating, cut banks, and blow outs and in sand or gravel pits.

Sandia points, if any of them are real, appear no older than Clovis. The fluted Sandia points have Clovis flutes and look like Clovis except for the slight bifacial flaked shoulder, while the leaf like Sandia points appear to be like the Lerma points found with mammoth bones in Mexico. I visited Sandia Cave in 1977. I am of the distinct opinion that the stratigraphy in this small remote cave was questionable, like that of many caves and shelters where turbation prevails. Sandia points are largely dismissed today by many archaeologists as a possible hoax, like Lansing man in Kansas. Beware them!

A large majority of the Clovis tradition points over Kansas represent typical Late Glacial types, but at least a handful of points resembling Clovis may actually be Goshen-Plainview types. Goshen Plainview points are now considered by many to be coeval with Clovis types. Goshen-Plainview points are primarily located in the Northwest Plains, but this writer's experience is that west-to-east rivers of Kansas provided primary avenues of movement and diffusion. Goshen-Plainview types in Kansas likely indicate the southern-most margin for the type. The close association of Clovis and Goshen-Plainview by age are much like the Folsom and Midland types, which are also very close in age. Oldest calendar dates corrected for Clovis points are presently 13,500 years ago.

The favored Paleo stone resource in Kansas was niobrarite chalcedony in the northwest central counties of Kansas. I named and studied niobrarite (Smoke Hill Jasper) in 1985 with former Kansas State archaeologist John Reynolds (Reynolds! Wright [separate articles]: 1985, Vol. #3, K.A.A. Journal, etc). Niobrarite has a range of colors and was used by Paleo Americans, together with Texas alibates chalcedony and Dakota quartzite. Paleo American base camps should prevail near good niobrarite sources in Kansas. Florence and Ogallala cherts were less desirable to Paleo Americans.

Folsom dates in time are about 11,500 years ago. Kansas Folsom points are primarily in western Kansas, but are as far east as Doniphan County. The Coffey site on the Big Blue River in Kansas yielded Folsom traits, along with others. At the Bobtail Wolf site, in the Knife River flint resource area of North Dakota, it was estimated that the population of about 650 Folsom people traveled an area of 115,000 square kilometers, that is, the Dakotas plus eastern Wyoming and Montana combined. Paleo hunters made what are called mobile biface cores. These were about ten inches long and looked like giant North points with very large percussion spalls removed to make points. They were made from the best possible lithic sources and taken on seasonal rounds in order to have select stone to make new points away from base camps. In northwestern Oklahoma, south of the Kansas line, an ancient bison skull was recently excavated in a bone-bed kill site that had a zig zag, lightning-like symbol painted on the skull forehead. This represents the earliest North American art found so far.

By the end of Folsom times Kansas had distinctly trended toward grassland, intermixed grassland, and savanna features from west to east. Kansas will yield Paleo sites for study in this century unless propaganda, spin, double-thinking, activist politics, political correctness, and archaeological funding everywhere makes it worse than it already is today.

A Paleo Goshen-Plainview point found in a roadside railway ditch cut near lower White Rock Creek two miles northwest of Lovewell, Jewel County, Kansas. Made of speckled silicified sandstone or quartzite, it has a ground base and exhibits re-sharpening. These points appear to be coeval with or slightly earlier than Clovis in the Northern Plains.

Following Folsom times closely in Kansas are the Piano complex lanceolate points such as Hell Gap, Agate Basin, and Rice Lanceolate. All the fluted Paleo points were fragile and often broke because their sectional density was inadequate, and their lateral cutting edges were minimal with probably a great deal of hafting. Cutting and penetration would have been less if some were not wider up front. As technically knapped as Clovis and Folsom points are, they worked better against head-on large bio-mass targets. With the passing of megafauna, environmental changes, and increased foraging, the fluted points were bound to decline. And many Clovis points are so large, it is unlikely they were atlatl projected. Clearly, Dalton points seem likely successors to fluted points. Daltons in eastern Kansas appear very close in time to lanceolate forms. Daltons are often called Meserve but are essentially the same. The upper Smokey Hill River has yielded Firstview and Kersey points, generally referred to as Eden and Scottsbluff types, and are part of the Cody Complex. Northwest Kansas has also revealed Frederick (Allen), Frontier, and Lusk points. Distinctly Paleo American sites in Kansas are the Twelve Mile Creek site in Logan County and other Paleo sites such as Harrison, Laird, Gettinger, and Norton in western Kansas. Right on the heels of Paleo American times, the Plains Archaic began about 8,000 years ago with side-notched Logan Creek Complex points (similar to Big Sandy) and extinct bison hunting, but that is another story for later.

1990 C.S.A.S.I. Last modified: January 31 2004