An Introduction to Kansas Archeology

An Introduction to Kansas Archeology

An Introduction to Kansas Archeology

An Introduction to Kansas Archeology

Excerpt

When I was invited, shortly after joining the National Museum staff in 1936, to submit a proposal for a field project for the following summer, my immediate selection of Kansas as the locus of operations was based on several considerations. For one thing, probably no State in the Great Plains region was so inadequately known, ethnologically or archeologically. Most of the tribes -- Siouan, Caddoan, and other -- known to have inhabited the State in historic times prior to reservation days had passed from the scene when trained ethnologists began their studies. No ethnohistorical work of any note had been undertaken. As to archeology, notable contributions had been made here and there by a handful of individuals, but mostly before 1910. No general systematic attack had been made on the prehistory of the region nor had anyone attempted to place the State in its proper position in the emerging picture of Plains prehistory. No local institution or organization was engaged in any sort of anthropological research within the State; and the large-scale archeological work relief operations of the 1930's had no counterpart in Kansas.

Yet there was ample reason to believe that the notion, still lingering in some quarters, of the Great Plains as a region "largely bare of archeology," was no more applicable to Kansas than it was to Nebraska. As Strong pointed out in his classic introduction to Nebraska archeology, perusal of the limited literature available showed that Kansas was "an extremely promising archeological field that up to the present has received nothing even approaching systematic investigation." Having participated in five productive and stimulating seasons of fieldwork in southern and western Nebraska from 1930 to 1934, I was entirely convinced of the accuracy of this trenchant observation. Realization thus of the possibilities, grafted onto lingering memories of fruitful boyhood "relic"-hunting trips in central Kansas, provided an initial stimulus for launching sustained field investigations when the opportunity at last arrived.

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