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The Lake Winneconne Park Site: Searching for an Early Historic Native American Occupation in Winnebago County

Date: Thursday, September 13, 2018, 7:00 p.m.

Location: Wisconsin Historical Society auditorium (across from the Memorial Union)

Speaker: Dr. Jeff Behm, UW-Oshkosh

About: A severe windstorm in 2001 toppled a large cottonwood in Lake Winneconne County Park (now Lake Winneconne Park) in the Village of Winneconne.  This event exposed a previously unreported archaeological site.  In addition to the expected shell-tempered Lake Winnebago Trailed Oneota pottery and associated materials, eight small rolled metal beads made of European smelted copper kettles were recovered from water screen residues.  These beads, which could date from the Protohistoric through Middle Historic Period, could represent the long-sought historic Oneota Horizon and linkage with the Winnebago (Ho-Chunk). Unfortunately, the disturbed context of the tree tip prevented the documentation of a firm association between Oneota ceramics and European-source metal. 

In 2017 the UW-Oshkosh Archaeology Field School investigated the Park.  Shovel testing determined the extent and boundaries of the site.  A 4m x 4m excavation block was placed close to the location of the 2001 tree tip.  Half of the units (in a checkerboard pattern) were dry screened in the field through 1/4-inch mesh.  The intact deposits from the remaining 8 units were water screened through 1/16 inch mesh in order to recover a wider range of materials, including small metal beads and other trade items.. 

Excavations and subsequent inventorying of the large number of samples from the 2017 field work demonstrated the expected presence of a multi-component site, with Late Archaic through Oneota occupations confirmed.  While no additional historic Fur Trade Era artifacts were identified, several likely, but previously unrecognized historic Native American potter sherd have been identified.  The dating and specific ethnographic assignment of these ceramics remain in question.

Free and open to the public

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