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Thread: Artifacts unearthed on couples land -Oklahoma

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  1. #1
    Gypsyheart~ Queen of Rust

    Nov 2005
    208 times

    Artifacts unearthed on couple's land -Oklahoma

    NEWKIRK -- Arrowheads and pottery pieces can be found scattered across Terry and Karla Cheek's property like confetti after a ticker-tape parade.

    Artifacts that have been gathered by the bucketful tell a story about early American Indian life, fierce intertribal warfare and blossoming European commerce in the early 1700s.

    With the Kansas flatlands just a shout away, the Cheeks' land sits on a western bluff of the Arkansas River near where it flows into Kaw Lake in Kay County. From this viewpoint, bald eagles can be seen dipping and rising along the river.

    The Cheeks built a house on land that once held an enormous encampment of Wichita Indians. Anthropologists say the Southern Plains tribe roamed the entirety of present-day Oklahoma. Just to the south of this tract of land is a remnant of another large Wichita encampment, signaling that this was a favored area for the tribe, scientists said.

    Cheek remembers finding arrowheads here as a boy on his family's property, particularly on Sunday outings with his father. It was no secret that the land had abundant artifacts. However, only after he decided to build his house here did Cheek find out more

    about the people who first called his property home.

    "I'm a spiritual person, and I always felt at peace out here, so I wanted to do the right thing," he said.

    Dating the site

    Cheek called in scientists from the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University to interpret his finds. Richard Drass, a state archaeologist with the Oklahoma Archaeological Survey at OU confirmed that Cheek's discoveries revealed a remarkable era before Indian Territory was created.

    "We've been able to date this back to between 1720 and 1750," Drass said. "We've been able to tell that it had a fortification for defense, and we can see they were wanting to get into the world economy with the French."

    The property's bounty was by no means a new discovery. The land had been excavated by university groups and archaeologists since the early 1920s. Drass said the Bryson-Paddock site was one of the first officially excavated in Oklahoma. He estimates that the Bryson-Paddock sites held about 3,000 Wichitas.

    Over the decades, it has continued to reveal new information, with the most recent dig conducted this summer by Drass and a group of OU archaeology students.

    Drass said that at one time, the Wichitas numbered in the thousands before epidemics and settlement reduced their population. Excavated Wichita encampments also have been found in central, western and southern Oklahoma.

    Historically, the tribe lived in huge grass houses that were the rough equivalent of modern split-level condominiums.

    "In one of the excavations on this site, remains of a grass lodge were unearthed that measured 42 feet in diameter," Drass said. "It could have been the house of a chief or another person of prominence in the tribe."

    Cheek said he sees himself as a caretaker on land that he owns but feels more like a borrower. For example, when he planned the house, he was able to find out from archaeological records that a grass house had been on the same spot.

    "The cool thing was that there was a fireplace hearth at one time on the same spot where we decided to put our fireplace," he said.

    Drass can point out slight mounds on the land that look like gentle grassy knolls, but signal the Wichita version of trash heaps. In one section of land that has never been plowed, archaeologists unearthed a fortification that protected the tribe from attacks by neighboring tribes, including the Osage and possibly the Apache.

    "The Osage were pushing down on the Wichita from the Missouri River valley," he said. "We also have learned that the tribe made a treaty with the Comanches to the south."

    At the Bryson-Paddock site (named after earlier landowners), large pieces of limestone from the bluffs of the Arkansas River are dotted across one field that Cheek has plowed. Their presence is a telltale sign of an encampment, Drass said.

    "They don't belong there," he said. "That tells us that someone moved them up here from the bluffs for various purposes."

    Charting history

    The site has turned up no human remains. But Drass said magnetometers may help scientists uncover more exact details. Magnetometers can measure the soil distribution in an area. As a result, they can help scientists tell if soil under the surface was ever moved.

    Because the tribe used the land for some time, there could be burial sites that the magnetometers will help scientists locate.

    More research at the site has revealed Wichita life in the early years of the tribe's contact with Europeans. Glass beads, copper and other trade items have been found turned, Drass said.

    Besides the pipestones, pottery shards and arrowheads, the Cheeks have unearthed a metate -- or grinding well -- that weighs hundreds of pounds.

    "We were really excited when we found that; it was the biggest thing we've found," Karla Cheek said. "Almost every time it rains, we can go through the field and find new things."

    Many of the pieces have gone to the University of Oklahoma Archaeological Survey in Norman for closer examination. Some of them have been mounted in frames and now hang on the Cheeks' living room wall.

    The present-day Wichitas were notified of the find and sent a representative to the site. The 1,500-member tribe has its headquarters at Anadarko in Caddo County. Its modern jurisdictional area is more than 200 miles from the Cheek property. Some tribal members think the Bryson-Paddock site confirms their version of history.

    "We are aware that we were here first, and I'd like to think many of our tribal members knew the same thing," said Wichita tribal Chairman Gary McAdams. "It's not something that comes up a lot, but many of the other tribal governments are aware of this, too."

    Drass said archaeological work will continue on the site. The Cheeks' findings and their excavations have helped to paint a more accurate picture of one of the state's earliest inhabitants, Drass said.

    "What we found out here showed us it was a lot different than what we thought life was like for this tribe," he said. "This land has a lot of history in it."

    Cheek said he plans to look after the land long after he is gone.

    "In my will, I stipulate that my daughter is not to sell the land and not to disturb the land without having input from experts," Cheek said. "This is a place I want to take care of."

    I go a great distance,while some are considering whether they will start today or tomorrow

  2. #2

    Re: Artifacts unearthed on couple's land -Oklahoma

    Why can't I find a place like this? Bucketfuls of artifacts are only a dream for me, these people have them as reality!!! Sheesh.

  3. #3

    Aug 2006
    294 times

    Re: Artifacts unearthed on couple's land -Oklahoma

    They keep stressing Wichita in the article, but I find it funny that in the pic on the page...left hand frame sure has alot of Hopewell points in it, LOL.

  4. #4
    Random chance seems to have operated in our favor

    Oct 2004
    34 times
    Honorable Mentions (1)

    Re: Artifacts unearthed on couple's land -Oklahoma

    This area is one of the larger chert deposits in the country to my understanding from conversation with an OU professor. Just because the Wichita's lived in the vicinity (in my opinion) doesn't make the finds necessarily attributed to that tribe. My understanding is that a # of tribes migrated through the area on the way to warmer climates and following the herds would make stops there and work some of the material so as to have trading material on their journey.


    OU has made a couple of digs in this area over the last 40+ years as well as field trips.

    And from the Kansas side.


  5. #5
    Dec 2004
    Long Island New York
    White's XLT
    18 times

    Re: Artifacts unearthed on couple's land -Oklahoma

    Great article Gypsy, thank you for posting it!


  6. #6
    Random chance seems to have operated in our favor

    Oct 2004
    34 times
    Honorable Mentions (1)

    Re: Artifacts unearthed on couple's land -Oklahoma


    Ferdinandina Destroyed by Osages
    Ferdinandina was a Pawnee Pict-French settlement on the west bank of the Arkansas River just south of the present Kansas-Oklahoma state line. In 1749, Felipe de Sandoval reported that although these Indians tilled their fields, they were fierce cannibals and that he had seen them eat two captives. The tribe had only a few horses, stolen from the Comanches to the west. This Wichita trading center is believed to have existed from the mid-1740s into the 1750s. In 1751, the Osages, equipped with guns acquired from the British, attacked the Pawnee Pict village, that had been decimated by measles and smallpox, and burned it. This may have been Ferdinandina.

    My understanding is that Fort Ferdinandina is on the Arkansas River and is adjacent to an area called Trader's Bend which is a part of the Army Corp of Engineers project called Kaw Lake. It is highly fenced and gated. The weeds are atrocious and nothing has been done in years to preserve the site. There is NO Metal Detecting Allowed although there is private fam land adjacent to the site. I have heard of items being found on the bank after a good rain, but not seen by me.

  7. #7

    Aug 2006
    294 times

    Re: Artifacts unearthed on couple's land -Oklahoma

    Stoney, from my understanding, alot of the artifacts found there were Wichita. There are several Wichita sites there, as here (Northeast Oklahoma). I hunt some of them and the cultural material is pretty easily identifiable in most cases. However, my point in the article was that they focused on only the Wichita. In fact, the pictures show that it was a multi-cultural site and they didn't acknowledge that at all. The article was very misleading information about the site, but that's often the case. Kaw (and the Ark river) has alot of artifacts...a whole lot. Not quite as many as there used to be though, everyone and their cousin have hunted in hard in recent years.

    The Florence outcropping up there in Kay Co. is large, but there are many in Oklahoma. I like the material and you can find it used all over Oklahoma, and some other states as well. Oklahoma definately isn't short on good quality knapping material (Florence, Keokuk, Reed Springs, Redbird, Frisco, Peoria, Barren Fork, Cookson, Burlington, Woodford, Johns Valley, Day Creek, Ouachita, Ogalala...the list goes on and on) and most of it can occur in quite a wide area due to trade.

    That article was in the Tulsa World and I saved it. Kewl stuff, talk to ya later!

  8. #8
    Jun 2016
    Central Oklahoma
    Red Baron RB-7 (inherited from my Gramps, never used) Parents used to take us out detecting in mid-1970's--fun times! Caught the bug early, reignited here in OK.
    26 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Great article! Going to have to head up that way one of these days!



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