Robert F. Maslowski, Archeologist, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (retired).
© 2011 Robert F. Maslowski
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
Most prehistoric sites within the New River Gorge National River (NERI) and Gauley River National Recreation Area (GARI), West Virginia represent short term use for hunting and gathering. Due to the rugged nature of the parks’ landscapes there are only a few areas where there is potential for locating village sites and base camps. While the New River served as a major corridor connecting the southeast and Atlantic coast with the Ohio Valley, the major Indian trails avoided the river and New River Gorge.
West Virginia and the upper and mid-Ohio Valley were depopulated prior to the arrival of Europeans during the Beaver Wars of the 1640s and 1650s, raids conducted by the Five Nations Iroquois to obtain furs for trade and captives to replenish Iroquoian population losses. For these reasons, modern Indian tribes cannot be associated with archeological assemblages with a high degree of accuracy.
During the Paleoindian period (10,500 to 9000 BC) NERI and GARI were sparsely utilized. Paleoindian bands were generally associated with high quality chert sources and no such sources are present in NERI or GARI. Based on the discontinuous distribution of Indian language groups and tribes at early contact, it is probable that during the early prehistoric periods NERI, GARI and much of the eastern United States were occupied and utilized by Proto Algonquian, Iroquoian and Siouan speakers. Given the nature of the study area and the lack of cultural continuity through time, in the event that burials are recovered from a Paleoindian context, consultation should proceed with all of the tribes listed in chapter five of this report.
During the Archaic period NERI and GARI were utilized for hunting and gathering by culturally diverse bands. Numerous projectile point types and differences in chert preferences indicate bands from areas to the west, south, and east used NERI and GARI. At the present time there is no demonstrated association between these bands and historic tribes. In the event that burials are recovered from an archaic context, consultation should proceed with all of the tribes listed in chapter five of this report.
During the Early Woodland and Middle Woodland periods NERI and GARI were utilized for hunting and gathering by culturally diverse bands. One earthen mound and five stone mounds have been recorded in NERI, but the other sites include sparsely occupied camps and rockshelters. There is no evidence of Classic Adena and Hopewell. Using NAGPRA’s ten lines of evidence there are few indications of cultural associations that can be connected to historical tribes in NERI and GARI. Future research may demonstrate associations of pottery with S-twist cordage and Algonquian tribes. Pottery with Z-twist cordage is associated with Late Prehistoric Siouan-speaking tribes and this may extend back into the Early Woodland period. In the event that burials are recovered from an Early or Middle Woodland context, consultation should proceed with all of the tribes listed in chapter five of this report.
The Late Woodland period (AD 400 to 1200) is characterized by the end of mound building and the termination of the Adena and Hopewell trade networks. In NERI and GARI sites consist of open camps and rockshelters. The major innovation during the Late Woodland is the introduction of the bow and arrow circa AD 700, which is associated with Jack’s Reef and Levanna points and Parkline pottery. Historical linguistic evidence indicates that the bow and arrow was introduced to Siouan bands by Algonquian speakers. Consultation with federally recognized tribes representing the Siouan-speaking Tutelo, Saponi, and possibly the Occaneechi based on the current tribal membership of these groups should include the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma and the Cayuga Nation. Consultation with federally recognized tribes representing the Ohio Valley Siouan and Mississippi Valley Siouan Dhegiha Tribes should include the Tunica-Biloxi Indian Tribe of Louisiana, Quapaw Tribe of Indians, Oklahoma, Omaha Tribe of Nebraska, and Osage Nation, Oklahoma. Consultation with the Algonquian Tribes should include Absentee-Shawnee Tribe, Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, Shawnee Tribe, Delaware Nation, and the Delaware Tribe.
The Late Prehistoric period (AD 1200 to 1550) in this region is characterized by the appearance of shell tempered ceramics, several types of triangular arrow points, intensive corn agriculture, and village sites. Only one village site has been identified in NERI and none in GARI but both areas are within the range of annual hunting and gathering activities of Bluestone, Woodside, and Huffman phase villages. Based on burial orientation, cordage twist patterns, decorated pottery, and historical linguistics all three of these phases represent eastern Siouan tribes. Consultation with federally recognized iii tribes representing the Tutelo, Saponi, and possibly the Occaneechi based on the current tribal membership of these groups should include the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma and the Cayuga Nation. Consultation with the Ohio Valley Siouan Language tribes and Dhegihan Siouan Language tribes should include the Tunica-Biloxi Indian Tribe, Quapaw Tribe, Omaha Tribe, and Osage Nation.
The Early Contact period represents an extension of the Late Prehistoric period during which European trade goods, but not European documents, were present in this region. During the Early Contact period (AD 1550 to 1671), based on the presence of European trade goods in the Kanawha Valley including a top-view lizard/beaver effigy and an Iroquoian pipe, tribes potentially associated with NERI and GARI include the Iroquoian tribes listed in chapter five.
Based on burial orientation, cordage twist patterns, decorated pottery, oral tradition, and historical linguistics, the tribes potentially associated with NERI and GARI include the Ohio Valley Siouan Language tribes and Dhegihan Siouan Language tribes (Tunica-Biloxi Indian Tribe, Quapaw Tribe, Omaha Tribe, and Osage Nation). Consultation with federally recognized tribes representing the Virginia Siouan tribes, Tutelo, Saponi, and possibly the Occaneechi, based on the current tribal membership of these groups should include the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma and the Cayuga Nation.
During the Contact period (AD 1671 onwards), based on historical records and treaties, the federally recognized tribes potentially associated with NERI and GARI are the Iroquoian Tribes (Tuscarora Nation, Tonawanda Band of Seneca, Seneca Nation of Indians, St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, Onondaga Indian Nation, Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma, Cayuga Nation, Oneida Nation of New York, and Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin), the Cherokee Tribes (Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Cherokee Nation, and United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians), and certain Algonquian Tribes.