Chapter 7: Animal Remains from the 1985-1986 Investigations
Falk, Carl R., Plains Anthropologist
Faunal materials reported here are from archaeological salvage investigations initiated in 1985 and 1986 in response to continuing destruction of the site by commercial graveling operations.
A sizable archaeological collection, including a large assemblage of animal bone and comparatively small sample of freshwater shell, was recovered. The vertebrate sample is dominated by the remains of the American bison (Bison bison) and large canids (Canis) but also includes other mammal specimens, as well as fish, amphibian, reptile, and bird bone. This section presents description and basic analysis based in part on a preliminary report on the 1985 sample prepared by the author (Falk 1992). Following background discussion and review of laboratory procedures, the faunal remains are summarized and more detailed descriptions of identified specimens are presented. Consistent with the orientation of studies presented by other contributors to this volume, several basic questions are addressed. (1) What taxa are present in the Blood Run sample and in what general proportions are they represented? (2) Do patterns of representation vary as a function of context between units investigated? (3) How do patterns of faunal representation observed at Blood Run compare to those reported from archaeological sites located within the general region of northwestern Iowa?
Despite over a century of sporadic exploration and investigation of the Blood Run archaeological complex, use of animal resources has received little systematic attention. The lack of emphasis on faunal studies is not surprising given an understandable focus on identifying and recording mounds, earthworks, stone circles and other highly visible features characteristic of the site. Early investigators remarked on the presence of non-human bone and shell debris, in many instances specimens exposed by burrowing animals (e.g., Wakefield 1886). In one case the rib of a large animal considered too large to be bison was noted (Myer 1921). Starr (1887, 1888) recorded horse bones along with a dog skeleton wrapped in buckskin. Other investigators made note of buffalo, wolf, and fish bones, as well as clamshells and the presence of a variety of tools manufactured from bone, particularly digging tools.
Fieldwork completed as part of Project Oneota involved the controlled excavation of a small mound and constitutes the only example of a controlled subsurface excavation prior to the 1985 investigation. Harvey (1979:142, 181) reported the recovery of 542 pieces of bone and 77 pieces of shell. Counts for identified specimens include fish (1) and bird (2), pocket gopher (1), beaver (1), gray wolf (7), domestic dog (6), striped skunk (1), whitetailed deer (5), elk (1) and bison (60). Harvey's work recognized the relative importance of bison and suggested that other animals likely played a role in the subsistence economy. Harvey (1979:173) concluded that "Economic activities conducted by the Blood Run inhabitants included both hunting and horticulture, but it is difficult to determine the relative importance of each."
Beyond activities at Blood Run, archaeological investigations within the region have centered on at least two additional areas that are relevant here (Henning 1998a:380-385). Sites within the Lake Okoboji-Upper Little Sioux locality include Milford (Anderson 1994; Tiffany and Anderson 1993) and Gillett Grove (Harvey 1979:188-189). While little useful information is available from the Gillett Grove site, the faunal remains from the postcontact Milford site have been partially reported (Semken and Falk 1987; Spargo 1984; Tiffany and Anderson 1993). Analysis of the Milford faunal remains suggests a strategy that made use of a fairly wide range of animals including fish, a variety of small mammals, domestic dog, deer, and elk, but focused primarily on bison. Bison appear to have been hunted at varying distances from the site periodically …
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Publication information: Article title: Chapter 7: Animal Remains from the 1985-1986 Investigations. Contributors: Falk, Carl R. - Author. Journal title: Plains Anthropologist. Volume: 49. Issue: 192 Publication date: November 2004. Page number: 543+. © Plains Anthropologist Nov 2008. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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