Indians and Archaeology of Missouri

Indians and Archaeology of Missouri


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This expanded edition of Indians and Archaeology of Missouri gives an excellent introduction to the cultural development of Missouri’s Indians during the past twelve thousand years. Providing a new chapter on the Hunter Foragers of the Dalton period and substantial revision of other chapters to incorporate recent discoveries, the Chapmans present knowledge based upon decades of experience with archaeological excavations in an understandable and fascinating form.

The first edition of Indians and Archaeology of Missouri has been recognized in Missouri and nationally as one of the best books of its kind. The Missouri Historical Review called it “simply indispensable.” The Plains Anthropologist added similar praise: “Clearly written and exceptionally well illustrated…it is the answer to the amateur’s prayers.” Archaeology described it as “a boon to Missouri’s many amateur archaeologists, a useful source of information for professionals and interesting reading for the layman.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780826204011
Publisher: University of Missouri Press
Publication date: 10/28/1983
Edition description: REVISED
Pages: 176
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 3 Months to 18 Years

About the Author

Carl H. Chapman, widely recognized as Missouri’s premier archaeologist, is Professor of Anthropology and Research Professor in American Archaeology at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He is also author of The Archaeology of Missouri, 2 vols. (University of Missouri Press, 1965, 1980), and Osage Indians III: The Origin of the Osage Indian Tribe (Garland Press, 1974). Eleanor F. Chapman, who has illustrated various archaeological publications since 1946, is co-author with Henry and Jean Hamilton of Spiro Mound Copper (Missouri Archaeological Society, Memoir 11, 1979). She is also the illustrator of both volumes of The Archaeology of Missouri.

Read an Excerpt

Indians and Archaeology of Missouri

Revised Edition

By Carl H. Chapman, Eleanor F. Chapman

University of Missouri Press

Copyright © 1983 The Curators of the University of Missouri
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8262-0401-1


Indians and Archaeology

In the Americas, Indians and archaeology are usually closely associated. The Indians found by the first European explorers were the culmination in culture and physical type of thousands of years of gradual change and development in both the North and South American continents. Wherever archaeologists investigate, they must work with the remains of the ancestors of the Indians if dealing with time periods prior to A.D. 1492.

There are several means by which the archaeologist can approach the problems of interpreting and explaining the evidences of the past when no written records exist. The main questions to be answered about the findings are what events took place that produced them and where, when, how, and why they occurred. Techniques and procedures for recovering the evidences are not enough to answer all the questions even though they are problem-oriented and rigorously scientific. Real progress has been made in answering the question of what by improved data processing, classification, and analysis; of where by new developments in surveying and excavation techniques; of when by the innovation of the methods of tree-ring dating (dendrochronology), radiocarbon dating, paleomagnetic dating, thermoluminescence, and others.

The questions of how and why the activities occurred that are reflected in the archaeological record are still a major concern that has not yet been solved satisfactorily. If the real world of personal relationships and interrelationships of the people who left the remains are to be interpreted and explained—the major goals of archaeological research—then carefully controlled theoretical constructs or models must be applied to the evidence. One of these, analogizing, is a type of reasoning that assumes that if two or more things agree with one another in some respects, such as similar form, they probably will agree in others. For instance, to help bring to life the activities of ancient Indians whose tools (Clovis Fluted points) were found with the bones of now-extinct mastodons in Mastodon State Park, the general knowledge derived from descriptions of big-game-hunting cultures throughout the world can be used. In like manner, the use of certain tools or weapons can be assumed by their similarity to those that have been observed in use by living groups of people. The closeness of fit of the archaeologists' findings to a particular model is one means of achieving the probability of the interpretation.

Analogy in itself is far from being the answer to the problem. When dealing with the past evidences of American Indians, specific information from American Indian cultures should be used whenever possible in order to increase the probabilities of accuracy. Thus, the archaeologist who studies prehistoric cultures in America must be a student of American Indian culture.

In preparation for the interpretation and explanation of archaeological remains, it is helpful to have a knowledge of cultures and cultural histories around the world in spite of the fact that there is only one general cultural development in the Americas, that of the American Indian. Parallel cultural developments did occur, and understanding the how and why of such developments can aid interpretations. However, we should not depend on far parts of the world to explain discoveries in archaeological sites in America. An attempt to use our knowledge of Egypt, Greece, or Babylon per se to interpret archaeological sites in Missouri is likely to be more confusing than enlightening. Comparisons based on general similarity of cultural development throughout the world can be misleading—for example, the equation of the pyramid-building Indians in the Mississippi Valley with the pyramid-building Egyptians of North Africa. The Egyptian culture had its roots in the Mediterranean general cultural evolution, whereas the Mississippi Valley development was based on the growth of culture in South and Central America, tempered by local innovations in North America. American Indian culture is a unique growth, with a historical background almost as ancient as that of Egypt, and it cannot be understood any more easily by knowing Egyptian prehistory than Egyptian culture can be understood by knowing American Indian prehistory; the two were totally separate. Thus, the best preparation for understanding and interpreting American archaeology necessarily lies in a knowledge of American Indians and of the long history of their development.

In the Old World the archaeologists who work with the classical cultures of Egypt, Greece, the Near East, and all later developments deriving from them must ally themselves with history for the interpretations of their findings. They work with cultures whose literacy extends so far into the past that historical records are available for their use.

Classical archaeology may require the knowledge of Greek, Latin, Egyptian hieroglyphics, or other special language tools. Classical archaeologist are often associated with art history, ancient history, and classical languages, and their background training is usually in those areas and in the humanities.

In the New World archaeologists are dealing primarily with the remains of nonliterate people. The Maya had writing, but the examples that have been translated, while fascinating, are of limited application because they are concerned mainly with astronomy, religious matters, and genealogies of rulers. Most American archaeologists are students of culture and behavioral science whose basic training is in anthropology, the study of physical and cultural mankind. They may utilize history, but the written records are limited primarily to only the few hundred years since 1492. There are specialists called ethnohistorians, who utilize both history and ethnology to study the Indians, and who are not necessarily archaeologists, and quite often archaeologists use ethnohistorical studies to interpret historic Indian sites. In fact, this approach is used so often that it is called the direct historical approach. The method is to start at the known historical period utilizing the known culture of a certain group, and then to work back to the unknown archaeological culture.

American archaeologists must prepare themselves with a broad background in anthropology, then use it to interpret units of culture obtained through archaeological research. The segments of culture may be from any time period, ranging from more than twelve thousand years ago to the era just prior to the coming of the Europeans to America.

When studies are made of archaeological cultures within a particular geographical region, the Indians who represent the peak of cultural development in that area are probably the best guides for the interpretation of the data. In America, Indians and archaeology are inseparable companions, and no matter how excellent one's techniques may be in archaeological excavations, no archaeological background is complete without a thorough grounding in American Indian ethnography.

American archaeologists are almost necessarily anthropologists with at least five years of college leading to a Master's degree and one or two years of practice under the direction of a competent professional archaeologist. This learning period should be comparable to that of a medical doctor in time and intensity. Most archaeologists undergo internship as well as instruction and hold a Doctor of Philosophy degree in anthropology. Thorough education and experience are necessary for the recognition and interpretation of the archaeological data when they are discovered as well as in the laboratory afterward. When an archaeological site is excavated it is destroyed, and the only evidences obtained are those recognized and recorded by the excavators. It is doubtful that you would let an untrained, unskilled individual who has done no more than read a book on surgery operate on you for removal of a gall bladder or an appendix. Yet untrained people often excavate important archaeological sites, thinking that they are producing valuable information. Actually, they are destroying irreplaceable information because they are not trained to recognize it or record it.

There are true amateur archaeologists who lack academic training but are capable of doing excellent archaeological work. These people are knowledgeable, and many are fully competent to conduct archaeological investigations in certain areas and specialties. Their instruction has usually been less intense and not so broad as that of the professional archaeologist upon whom they depend for the interpretation of their research; normally, much of their training has been guided by a professional.

Archaeology is not a treasure hunt—it is not a job to be done by Boy Scouts except under very strict direction and under the close supervision of a competent, fully qualified archaeologist. Our Indian cultural heritage is fast disappearing through the onslaught of progress in the form of dams, roads, other construction activities, and modern farming practices. Perhaps just as destructive is the thoughtless relic hunting by those who seek to satisfy their curiosity or their avarice. Relics from uncontrolled, random digging are out of context. They are almost completely valueless in determining the story they might have told if they had been properly recorded when in place.

Amateur archaeologists and others interested in learning about the past who make an archaeological discovery should report it to competent archaeologists for advice concerning further investigation. Such reporters often work with the specialist and thus gain experience and knowledge of methods and techniques. They are given credit for their discoveries and their work. Many amateurs have been honored by archaeological organizations for their accomplishments. For example, the Missouri Archaeological Society has presented achievement and honor awards to numerous individuals. Most states have state archaeologists, staff archaeologists within the office of the State Historic Preservation officer, or archaeologists with state or private universities that can be reached for advice or aid. In Missouri the place to report archaeological finds is the Archaeological Survey of Missouri, 15 Switzler Hall, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, 65211.


Our Heritage from the American Indian

Just what do we owe to the American Indians? All of us have heard of their importance in the early history of our country, but too often the Indians are placed in the role of villain. The fighting with the Indians in the Plains is too close to us, less than one hundred years ago, when the popular slogan was "The only good Indian is a dead Indian." The atrocity stories, companions of every war, and the propaganda used against the Indians have permeated our fiction, movies, and television. It is no wonder that this unjust picture has brought strong objections from the Indians and those knowledgeable about American history. Fortunately the true picture is beginning to emerge, which is that we owe a huge debt to our predecessors on the American continent. All of us enjoy untold benefits from things the Indians gave us.

Can you imagine a Thanksgiving dinner without any of the following: turkey, Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and cranberries? These are some of the Indian foods we have borrowed.

The production of rubber from rubber trees is an outstanding contribution to our civilization. Who knows what the course of civilization might have been if the Indians had not discovered the production and use of rubber, quinine, and the coca leaf, from which cocaine is derived? They are Indian products of inestimable value to modern transportation and to our practice of medicine. The hammock, toboggan, and birchbark canoe were invented by the Indians before Columbus discovered America. The tale of Hiawatha is an Indian story that has become a part of our literature and has been read by innumerable schoolchildren. We have adopted the Indian game of lacrosse. Tobacco is now a part of American big business, and the Indian uses of tobacco—pipes, cigars, cigarettes, and snuff—have become an integral part of American custom. Our clothing has also been affected in such items as moccasins, fringed buckskin shirts, and parkas. Guinea pigs, which the Indians domesticated and ate, have been indispensable to medical research.

Remove the Indian names from our geography and huge gaps would appear. The states Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, the Dakotas, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming bear Indian names. Cities in every state trace their names to Indian origin, a few of which are Schenectady, Tallahassee, Mobile, Pontiac, Chicago, Kansas City, Cheyenne, Tucson, and Spokane. Here in Missouri the names of the towns and cities of Catawissa, Chilhowee, Chula, Kahoka, Kansas City, Miami, Monegaw Springs, Neosho, Niangua, Osceola, Pocahontas, Pontiac, Shawnee Mound, Spokane, Taos, Waco, Wappapello, and Wyaconda are Indian derived. Our Great Lakes Erie, Michigan, and Ontario, and our largest rivers, the Missouri, Mississippi, Ohio, and Arkansas, are called by Indian names. The Osage, Niangua, Meramec, Marmiton, and Wyaconda rivers are other examples of Indian waterway names in the state.

The Indian words tomahawk, papoose, squaw, tipi, wampum, and wigwam, along with many others, are commonly used in our language.

Indian arts and crafts are prominent as decorations in our homes or on our persons. Colorful Indian-made kachina dolls, pottery jars, ash trays, baskets, blankets, and rugs adorn many homes. Silver and turquoise jewelry, beaded belts, and moccasins add luster to the garb of the summer tourist or an exotic touch to usual wear. The Indian has definitely enriched the expression of our art in many forms.

The American Indian contributed many valuable things to our world culture. For example, more than half of the world's agricultural wealth today is estimated to derive from plants unknown to Europe and Asia before Columbus. To give the Indians the credit due them, a partial list of Indian contributions to modern American culture follows:

Food plants: Maize (corn), Irish potato (Peruvian potato), sweet potato, tomato, beans (lima, kidney, navy, pinto), chili pepper, pumpkin and squash, pineapple, strawberry, guava, peanut, alligator pear (avocado), cashew nut, brazil nut, cacao (chocolate), manioc (tapioca), sunflower, "Jerusalem" artichoke

Prepared foods: cornbread, hominy (grits), "Hungarian" paprika, tamales, tortillas, popcorn, succotash

Fibers, gums, dyes, and drugs: long-staple cotton, agave fiber (sisal), henequen fiber, rubber, chicle (chewing gum), cochineal (dye), logwood (dye), coca (cocaine), chinchona (quinine), tobacco, curare, datura (pain reliever), cascara (laxative), balsams, ephedra (decongestant), pulque (maguey plant wine-distilled to make tequila), chicha (beer)

Clothing and adornment: parka, poncho, muff, moccasins, huraches (sandals), Panama hat (basketry hat), freshwater pearl beads, inlaid jewelry (turquoise, jet, shell), beaded belts, rubberized fabric (raincoat)

Domesticated animals: turkey, musk duck (Muscovy duck), guinea pig, llama, alpaca, dog breeds such as Mexican hairless, Chihuahua, Eskimo dog

Words: catalpa, cayuse, condor, conestoga, guano, jaguar, opossum, pampas, puma, raccoon, skunk, terrapin, totem

Geographical names: Keokuk, Milwaukee, Muskogee, Niagara, Omaha, Oshkosh, Ottawa, Pensacola, Peoria, Potomac, Saratoga, Sequoia, Susquehanna, Wabash, Walla Walla, Wichita

Miscellaneous items: cigar, cigarette, enema tube, hammock, handball, hockey, hollow rubber ball, kayak, lacrosse, maple sugar, marigold (domesticated flower), quonset hut, rubber, rubber syringe, snow goggles, tipi, tobacco pipe, tumpline.

All of these and many more have been taken from American Indians and used by us. It is easy to forget that it was the Indians who, over hundreds and thousands of years, domesticated, discovered, invented, or developed such important items as corn, chocolate, and rubber. If the Indians had not done so, we probably would not have the benefit of most of these things today. Our heritage from the Indians is interwoven thoroughly into modern American civilization; without the important Indian contributions the whole course of the development of the Americas and the world would have been different. Our lives would lack much of the enrichment we enjoy.


Excerpted from Indians and Archaeology of Missouri by Carl H. Chapman, Eleanor F. Chapman. Copyright © 1983 The Curators of the University of Missouri. Excerpted by permission of University of Missouri Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Indians and Archaeology,
Our Heritage from the American Indian,
Indians of the Americas,
Indians in Missouri,
The Earliest Americans,
The Early Hunters: Paleo-Indian Period,
The Hunter-Foragers: Dalton Period,
The Foragers: Hunter Gatherers of the Archaic Period,
The First Potters: Early Woodland Period,
The Traders: Middle Woodland Period,
The Regional Isolationists: Late Woodland Period,
The Townspeople: Village Farmers of the Mississippi Period,
The Prairie Dwellers: Protohistoric Period,
The Missouri and Osage: Indians of History,
The Remnants: Tribes Passing through Missouri,
The Archaeological Survey of Missouri,
The Archaeologist at Work,
Looking to the Future,

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Indians and Archaeology of Missouri 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Chapmans paint a well-structured picture of the pre-history of Missouri. They discuss the different eras of early midwestern civilization (for instance: Early, Middle and Late Woodland), the tribes, and the influences on those tribes. The book has many excellent photographs and drawings of sites and artifacts. The Chapmans realize that there is more to Missouri pre-history than just the Mississippi Valley settlements; they include a lot of information about ancient tribes and mound builders of the Ozarks region as well. It is well written and an easy read. I devoured it in three days, did a lot of underlining, and refer back to sections of it frequently. I even shared it with friends, one of whom liked it enough to buy her own copy. The only down side to the book is that it is not indexed.