The Direct-Historical Approach in Pawnee Archeology

The Direct-Historical Approach in Pawnee Archeology

The Direct-Historical Approach in Pawnee Archeology

The Direct-Historical Approach in Pawnee Archeology

Excerpt

When the University of Nebraska Archeological Survey was established in 1929, its then director, Dr. W. D. Strong, envisaged two primary objectives. The first was a preliminary survey of the State, including both surface reconnaissance and sampling excavations, designed to give a general bird's-eye view of the area as a whole. With this was combined a second aim, namely, an effort to locate and work such sites as could be definitely identified with villages visited and recorded by the early white explorers in eastern Nebraska. It was believed that by isolating and clearly defining the archeological characteristics of the historic peoples a whole series of sites could soon be removed from the category of unknowns; and furthermore, that a comparison of materials so identified with earlier remains in the region might open lines of attack which would permit the establishing of a time sequence extending "from the known historic into the unknown prehistoric." Toward this second objective a serious beginning had already been made by A. T. Hill, of Hastings, Nebr., who since 1922 had accumulated a considerable quantity of archeological materials from sites identified as Pawnee through critical study of early nineteenth century maps and narratives. This collection, as well as numerous valuable historical leads, was promptly made available to Dr. Strong and his coworkers, and it became the starting point for the study of Pawnee archeology. In this paper it is proposed to review very briefly the methods and some results of this approach to prehistory in the Pawnee area.

It was not chance alone that prompted selection of the Pawnee for the first systematic attempt at isolating a historic archeological complex in Nebraska. Aside from Hill's pioneer labors, consideration was given to the fact that this tribe was one of the largest, best known, and most powerful in the entire Plains area. Among the semi- sedentary so-called village tribes of the Missouri valley, including both Caddoan and Siouan groups, probably none shows evidence . . .

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