Skip to comments.Ancient burial ground discovered during duck hunt[Oklahoma]
Posted on 01/10/2007 11:02:36 PM PST by FLOutdoorsman
SILOAM SPRINGS Bryan Austin of Siloam Springs thought hed found a crime scene when he spotted a human skull under a pile of rocks while he was duck hunting in northeast Oklahoma.
Looking for a good place to set up a camouflage hunting screen Nov. 19 on a mud flat in the Spavinaw Creek drainage area, Austin found what turned out to be an ancient skull.
He later learned that the site is an ancient Indian burial ground.
Its absolutely amazing, Austin said. Im incredibly interested in this kind of stuff. Its in my line of work.
Austin, a sergeant with the Siloam Springs Police Department, has spent a lot of time investigating crime scenes.
Austin was unsure what he had stumbled onto when he first picked up a stone with four small depressions in it.
He later learned that it was used more than 1, 000 years ago by Caddo and Wichita Indians as a nut-cracking tool.
After seeing the tool, he continued his duck hunt but couldnt stop thinking about what he had found.
He came back to the site and spotted a stone scraping tool in the mud.
Nearby, he noticed some bones.
He dismissed the bones as animal bones.
Then he spotted a leg bone that he knew from his training was human.
I didnt know if I had a crime scene here, he said. After he examined a skull under a pile of rocks, he knew it wasnt from someone who died recently.
Holy crap, this is a burial ground, Austin said to himself.
The next day, he called a medical examiner who works northeast Oklahoma.
Kevin Rowland, chief investigator of the Oklahoma Medical Examiners Office in Oklahoma City, said an investigator from Claremore, Okla., went to the site.
Rowland said the remains were turned over to the state archeologist.
Hundreds of bones and artifacts were found at the site, including pottery, stone tools, arrowheads and knife parts.
Both Rowland and Robert Brooks, state archeologist for the Oklahoma Archeological Survey, said they could not release photos of the remains found at the site.
Brooks said Oklahoma has 500 to 1, 000 sites similar to this one.
Its important, Brooks said about this site, because it is prehistoric. It makes it have a certain kind of significance.
He said 50 to 75 American Indians could have been living at the site.
Brooks said he determined the age of the site to be 1, 000 years old by comparing it to the remains of similar sites that have been carbon dated.
The Caddo and Wichita tribes have been contacted, Brooks said.
The remains of possibly four individuals were found at the site, Brooks said.
Animal bones were also discovered.
Brooks said the people were buried intentionally. Erosion exposed their remains.
More bodies might be buried at the site, he said.
One of the skulls was from a child.
Austin said he found a sandstone grinding basin nearly 2 feet in diameter that looked like a piece of granite.
Ive never seen a grinding basin like that, Austin said.
Austin said he had been duck hunting in the area since September.
He had probably walked over the burial ground six or seven times before he noticed the nut-cracking tool.
He said he has searched some places for old things in the past.
He found an 1853 half dime in Benton County and old Indian tools in caves in Madison County, he said, but nothing like what he found while duck hunting.
So that is where Dick Cheney hides the bodies!;-)
Neat stuff. I wonder if he got lucky and shot a limit too!
I wonder what possessed them to think they were remains that would belong to the Caddos or Wichitas? They tended to range further south and west, even 1000 years ago. This is forested area and they were open plains Indians, even into Kansas, to the north, but in the western part. The tools sound like Plains tools, too.
Eastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas had been Cherokee for maybe 300 years. Maybe it was some Caddoan (not necessarily the Caddos or Wichitas themselves) or a Delaware-Lenape tribal family that came from the east.
I suppose if they dig more and find some mounds, that might answer the question - or they already know there are some. Hunh - interesting, anyway.
I caught my very first fish as a tiny kiddo at Spavinaw! Then promptly fell down *splat* in the watercress at the shoreline, just me and my little perch and short-stuff rod/reel.
The size of the grinding table was massive. Eastern natives had finer-tuned and smaller-scaled tools. That's all I meant - just from things I've seen and known about.
They probably mean this small site is caddo as in "Spiro mounds caddoan" but I don't think people have settled to whom exactly the Spiro mounds era "caddo" are really related; the old theory was they were ancestors of the modern Caddo and Witchita but it's in dispute- they may be more akin to other peoples northeast of them all the way up to Illinois. Certainly the people from the Arkansas basin are linked in some fashion- and Spiro seems to have been a trade hub or gateway in the midst of this basin where finished goods passed from places like Cahokia with its numerous copper and shell workshop sites and huge caches of chert drills in return for something- some say Spiro may have been the conduit through which flowed soft bison hair for textiles, meat, bow d'arc staves for bows, etc, since we're not sure. Spiro is lacking in workshop sites but abounds in exotic finished goods. Trade in perishable products from their region and from the west is most likely the reason but it could be that goods went to Spiro for other cultural needs- a form of tribute, a kind of religious sacrifice at what may have been considered a special site, or reasons we can't understand yet.
The site will be declared historical and he just hunted his very last season there.
I don't think it is Caddo or Wichita either. These tribes were assigned to reservations there but that was in the late 1800's. If these findings are 1000 years old they have to be some other tribe.
I have always wondered how one disposes of 'holy crap'.
***I wonder what possessed them to think they were remains that would belong to the Caddos or Wichitas?***
The time I've spent at Spiro itself was somewhat of a waste, as I didn't really know a lot of "big picture" background as to what I was learning until much later, when I got into my own genealogy.
I am Chickasaw and do not consider myself related to Caddo or Wichita, as we were Muskogean in language family. Our historic homeland is around the Tennessee River in NW Alabama and NE Mississippi.
I consider us part of the "Southern Cult" or Mississippian culture - however, some say we came from west of the Mississippi in the ancient, and probably originated around the Red River valley, like the "Caddoan" cultures, before migrating eastward.
One thing, though, we were not mound builders and there is nothing in our anasazi origin stories indicating that we ever were. That's why I am so often in dispute about that.
After Removal, we were originally part of the Choctaw Nation, then "got our own place" - but we own half of the Arkansas River. I believe Spavinaw is in the Arkansas watershed, although it might be the Grand River - I'd have to look.
Anyway, I dislike that these ancient artifacts would just be handed over to the Caddo-Wichita tribes, no questions asked. I looked at the Caddo Nation website just now, at least the one sponsored by their Texas portion, and could not believe the hyperbole they've written.
You would think they are the only Indian tribe in the US and that they invented everything and saved the white man from every other evil Indian - and made the most fabulous pottery in the world! They are laying claim to everything that has ever been labeled "Caddoan" as their own modern-day tribe's birthright! Harrumph.
No - we're talking about the "ancient lands" of each of the tribes. I can't explain it all very quickly, I'm kinda too close to the trees and not good at simplifying it.
Who is the entity that will declare it 'historical'?
The reason I'm asking in 1889 while building my barn, 40 skulls were found on my property (according to an old newspaper report). No further information was available and I wish I could bury, so to speak, that information due to the possible ramifications.
Well, that would made *some* sense. Especially considering the bois d'arc bow wood - however, that's all over eastern Oklahoma and east Texas.
And their ancient lands are not where their reservation is now - although they were just a little farther east. I've lived in the Osage, but don't know much about the tribe in prehistory.
In the back of my mind, I think they are possibly Iroquoian in language family - more like Cherokees. Could be wrong about that. I don't believe they are Muskogean or Caddoan, however. Perhaps our Freeper O.O. will correct me.
Another 1,000-year-old nut-cracking tool.
Where are you talking about? Like, what state?