A Late Prehistoric Period Pronghorn Hunting Camp in the Southern Black Hills, South Dakota: Site 39FA23

By Bozell, John R. | Plains Anthropologist, February 1999 | Go to article overview

A Late Prehistoric Period Pronghorn Hunting Camp in the Southern Black Hills, South Dakota: Site 39FA23


Bozell, John R., Plains Anthropologist


A Late Prehistoric Period Pronghorn Hunting Camp in the Southern Black Hills, South Dakota: Site 39FA23. By KERRY LIPPINCOTT (with contributions by Mary Adair, Daniel R. Byrne, James Theler, Robert E. Warren). Special Publication of the South Dakota Archaeological Society, Number 11. Published in cooperation with the Bureau of Reclamation, Dakotas Area Office. 1996. xi+133 pp., dedication, figures, tables, plates, acknowledgments. $10.00 (paper, ISBN 0-917621-01-8).

The recovery of archaeological data from village sites on the main stem of the Missouri River in South and North Dakota began in the 1920s and continues today. These collections are enormous, the published and gray literature is voluminous, and the advances in knowledge about the Native American past has been rich and varied. Save for a few notable exceptions, what these "villagers" were doing and why when not at home has been largely ignored. Kerry Lippincott's treatment of a Middle Missouri tradition hunting camp in western South Dakota forms an important data point for a fuller comprehension of Plains Village life in the Middle Missouri subarea.

This volume reports 1985 South Dakota Archaeological Research Center (SDARC) investigations at site 39FA23 located along the shore of Angostura Reservoir in the southern South Dakota Black Hills. Portions of the site had been excavated in 1948-1949 by the Smithsonian Institution River Basin Surveys (SI-RBS) and reported upon by Richard P. Wheeler. The 1985 SDARC research was sponsored by the Bureau of Reclamation in response to exposure of the deposit during drought induced low reservoir levels. The investigations were carried out under the overall direction of the late Robert A. Alex.

The first four chapters provide concise but thorough and necessary background information. These sections include: Environmental Setting, Cultural Chronology, and Previous Research pertaining to 39FA23 and the general project area. Environmental summaries relate primarily to the character of various natural resources available to Native American inhabitants of the Black Hills as well as the climatic challenges they faced. The most detailed of these chapters is a comprehensive account of previous research at 39FA23 including field methods, recovery strategies, stratigraphy, feature descriptions, and a summary of materials recovered.

The 1985 SDARC excavations at the site are treated in the succeeding chapter. Approximately 50 square meters of stratified cultural deposits were opened, all fill was passed through %4 inch mesh, and select soil samples were retrieved from features. The prior SI-RBS efforts indicated five closely spaced stratigraphic levels, however, inundation and wave action had removed the two uppermost layers prior to the 1985 investigation. Although all cultural levels date to the Plains Village period, the site is horizontally and vertically complex. Lippincott does a commendable job of synthesizing the site context and discussing processes which formed the deposits and continue to degrade them. Photographs and illustrations of various profiles enhance the stratigraphic discussion. The author concludes this chapter by describing seven features-one post and six probable hearths. A short chapter presenting radiocarbon dates follows. One wood charcoal sample was submitted to the University of Wisconsin and three charcoal samples were sent to Beta Analytic. With correction and standard deviation variance, all fall within the period A.D. 1000-1450 (uncalibrated) and confirm the site stratigraphy.

The next eight chapters are studies of materials recovered, four authored by Lippincott (ceramics, chipped stone, ground stone, and modified bone and shell), and one (vertebrate remains) coauthored with Daniel R. Byrne. Some of these sections are largely descriptive and others have a somewhat more analytical flavor to them.

The ceramic collection consists of 13 rim sherds and 75 body sherds.

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