OSA Report Series

Report 26: Correctionville and the Oneota Tradition: The Western Oneota and Correctionville Phase (PDF Download)


by Dale R. Henning
2023, 206 pp.

The Late Prehistoric Upper Mississippian cultures existed from AD 1000 to ca. 1700 in the Upper Mississippi basin and the Great Lakes region of the Prairie Peninsula, American Midwest. The Upper Mississippian Tradition includes two related parts, the Oneota and Fort Ancient traditions. Oneota evolution in the Chicago region was influenced by the Fort Ancient tradition while the Eastern Wisconsin and Western Oneota regions share Late Woodland ancestry.  The Western Oneota tradition is subdivided into regions based on geographical and cultural information. The Northwest Iowa region offers a synoptic view of Oneota cultural development, expansion, and termination in the western Prairie Peninsula. The current volume focuses primarily on current archaeological evidence and inferences about the Correctionville phase of Oneota occupation spanning AD 1250-1714 in northwest Iowa. Key among the sites of this time period is Blood Run, a large and well known archaeological site on the Big Sioux River, developed AD 1550-1714 by ancestral Omaha and Iowa tribal entities with several cognate affiliates. Evidence at three Correctionville sites, Blood Run, and one site in the Okoboji locality indicate that their locally mined and produced catlinite pipes and decorative items have been found across eastern North America. 

Report 25: Phipps Site Ceramics - A Typological, Morphological, and Contextual Analysis of a Mid-twentieth Century Legacy Collection (PDF Download)

by Joseph A. Tiffany
2021, 105 pp.

The Phipps site is a National Historic Landmark and type site of the Mill Creek culture of northwest Iowa (A.D. 1100-1250). This report provides the first complete documentation and analysis of ceramics recovered from major excavations in 1955–1956. These data are correlated with the site stratigraphy from those excavations and two later excavations to model ceramic distribution at the site and interpret the nature of the deep midden deposits found there. The results show no evidence for site abandonment or substantive changes in the major ceramic types during the occupation ca. 57 plus years of occupation. This study confirms that there is no ceramic or stratigraphic evidence for a Mississippian site intrusion at Phipps. Of equal importance the distribution of major types can be correlated with buried occupation surfaces identified stratigraphically across the site, demonstrating importance of legacy collections like Phipps for use in evaluating modern research questions.


Report 24: Oneota Historical Connections - Working Together in Iowa (PDF Download)

Edited by Shirley J. Schermer, William Green, Larry J. Zimmerman, Linda Forman, and Robin M. Lillie
2015, 166 pp.

This volume is the outcome of a conference held in 1997 at the University of Iowa focusing on Oneota historical connections and the archaeological history of the Chiwere-speaking Iowa and Otoe peoples. The conference attracted over 70 participants from seven states and the District of Columbia including members of the Chiwere-speaking tribes, ethnohistorians, linguists, osteologists, and archaeologists. Tribal participants include representatives from the Ioway and Otoe-Missouria, Sac and Fox Nation of the Missouri, the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa, and Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin. The volume takes a retrospective view of conversations and collaborations in Iowa between archaeologists and tribes from the 1997 consultation and conference to the present. It consists of 16 chapters by 25 distinguished conference participants including newly authored chapters by Colin Betts and Lance Foster. Topics covered include NAGPRA consultation, Indian-archaeologists relations, Chiwere ethnohistory, Oneota archaeology with an overview and regional summaries, archaeology and ethnohistory, ideology, historical linguistics, and the archaeological consultation process.

Report 22: The Cowan Site: A Great Oasis Community in Northwest Iowa (Hardcopy + PDF Download)

Edited by Stephen C. Lensink and Joseph A. Tiffany
2005, 254 pp.

The Cowan site (13WD88) is a Late Prehistoric Great Oasis site overlooking the Floyd River in Woodbury County in northwestern Iowa. This volume provides a detailed report on excavations at the Cowan site which focused on Great Oasis community patterns. Field work employed magnetic survey to detect near-surface features, coupled with detailed geomorphological investigation of site context and formation processes. Fifteen authors contributed their expertise to this volume discussing analysis of floral, faunal, and ceramic artifacts, radiocarbon dates, and the implications for understanding climate, duration of occupation, and social organization. The size and thoroughness of the Cowan site excavations, coupled with these detailed analyses, provided much important new data on the Great Oasis culture improving our understanding of this cultural phenomenon and the prehistory of the region.

Report 21: Bison Hunters of the Western Prairies: Archaeological Investigations at the Dixon Site (13WD8), Woodbury County, Iowa (Hardcopy + PDF Download)

Edited by Richard L. Fishel
1999, 216 pp.

This volume presents a comprehensive report on a 14th-century Oneota village site in northwest Iowa. The Dixon site (13WD8) is located along the Little Sioux River in Woodbury County. In 1994, emergency flood-damage mitigation was undertaken at the site that included excavation of exposed pit features and eventual stabilization of the western bank and determination that the site was eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. This volume is the resultof this research project. Highlights include documentation of several domestic dwellings plus detailed floral and faunal analyses, ceramic attribute studies, lithic analyses, site geomorphology, analysis of human remains recovered from the site, and an overview of Oneota in northwest Iowa. The investigations indicate that the site inhabitants engaged in bison hunting and maintained close ties with groups west of the Missouri River on the central Great Plains. 

A variety of experts contributed to this volume including: David L. Asch, Illinois State Museum, Springfield, Illinois, George T. Crawford, Eastern New Mexico University, Portales, New Mexico, Fred A. Finney, Upper Midwest Archaeology, St. Charles, Illinois, Richard L. Fishel, K.Kris Hirst, Robin Lillie and Jeannie Link, Office of the State Archaeologist, Carmen Jans-Langel, National Czech and Slovak Museum, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Toby Morrow, IMA Consulting (Arkansas Office), Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, Marjorie Schroeder, Illinois State Museum, Springfield, Illinois, Julieann Van Nest, New York State Museum, Albany, New York, and John Weymouth, Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska.

Report 20: Oneota Archaeology: Past, Present, and Future (Hardcopy + PDF Download)

Edited by William Green
1995, 227 pp.

People of the Oneota tradition occupied much of the Midwest and Great Plains between ca. A.D. 1000 and 1700. Oneota complexes have been the subject of archaeological scrutiny for over 70 years. This volume summarizes the status of Oneota research in the central and upper Midwest at the end of the 20th Century. It also reviews the history of archaeological thought on Oneota, and it raises questions and indicates directions for future research. Oneota archaeology employs a wide array of methods and theoretical frameworks and focuses on research related to the intensification of agriculture, exchange and interaction, and historic connections. This volume provides important background information for those interested in Oneota research. An update on current research readers should see the 2016 publication Oneota Historical Connections: Working Together in Iowa edited by Shirley J. Schermer, William Green, Larry Zimmerman, Linda Forman, and Robin M. Lillie (available as a PDF download).
"A significant contribution to Oneota archaeology and Midwestern archaeology in general."
Jodie O'Gorman, American Antiquity

Report 19: Agricultural Origins and Development in the Midcontinent (Hardcopy + PDF Download)

Edited by William Green
1994, 188 pp.

This book contains eight chapters which address ancient agriculture in the Midwest and Midsouth. The chapters discuss both the archaeological recovery of seeds and other physical remains of crops and the history of native agricultural systems.

The book's chapters cover ancient plant use in the upper and central Mississippi valley, Illinois, and the Ozark and Kentucky highlands. Chapters also discuss the history of research on ancient agriculture as well as the utility of this knowledge for modern agroecological research.

New discoveries show that plant cultivation began as early as 3000-4000 years ago in many regions of eastern North America. Early domestication focused on native plants which produce highly nutritious starchy or oily seeds: goosefoot, maygrass, little barley, knotweed, marshelder, and sunflower. Gourds and tobacco also were important ancient crops. Corn and beans were latecomers from Mexico or the Southwest and were not important in the Midwest until about 1000 years ago.

Heightened awareness of ancient Midwestern crops fosters a greater appreciation for the long-term development of Indian agricultural systems. Many of the native crops are now ignored - or even extinct - but they illustrate the success of native agriculture over an extremely long time span. At a time when farmers are seeking new ideas on agricultural diversity and sustainability, the advances in knowledge of native plant use reported in this book expand options for research and experimentation.

The book's editor, William Green, was director of the University of Iowa's Office of the State Archaeologist and is now the director of the Logan Museum at Beloit College, in Beloit, Wisconsin. The ten other chapter authors include researchers at universities in Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

"Includes chapters by many of the scholars who have been at the forefront of paleoethnobotanicalresearch. . . . All are well written and form a cohesive group. . . . This book provides a good overview of the evidence from the main areas, written by some of the key contributors."
C. Wesley Cowan, American Anthropologist

"An excellent collection of papers that are well written, easy to read, and informative. . . . The papers in this volume. . . represent fine research by some of the best and most creative researchers currently working in the midcontinent."
Frances B. King, Southeastern Archaeology

"A good synthesis of our current knowledge of the changing relationships between native peoples and plants in the midcontinent. . . . I would recommend this book for anyone who is interested in the origins of North American agricultures, or in the prehistory of the midcontinent. "
Russell Boulding, Journal of Ethnobiology

Report 18: Woodland Cultures on the Western Prairies: The Rainbow Site Investigations (Hardcopy + PDF Download)

Edited by David W. Benn
1990, 257 pp.

Rainbow site (13PM91) is situated in a small stream valley in Plymouth County, northwestern Iowa. In 1978 excavations at this site revealed a deeply buried, stratified series of Woodland occupations covering a time span from ca. 1170 B.P. to 1850 B.P. This report describes the site, its geological setting, and the materials recovered. Significant contributions of the report include the reconstruction of Woodland household units at Rainbow and related sites, analysis of the DeForest Formation (Holocene valley fills), and studies of Woodland pottery. Chapter authors compare the Rainbow site data to other assemblages and discuss the cultural and environmental implications of their studies. The volume constitutes a major advance in archaeological, geological, and paleoecological interpretation for the Midwest and Great Plains.
"This volume presents a wealth of new data and will be useful to everyone working with Plains Woodland materials for years to come. . . . A fine achievement. Dave Benn, his collaborators, and the Iowa Office of the State Archaeologist deserve hearty congratulations for production of this volume. The OSA "Report" series is consistently of high quality and Rainbow certainly measures up. The volume will endure as the standard against which future Woodland archaeology in the region is measured."
John R. Bozell, Plains Anthropologist
"This book is an essential reference for all serious students of Northeastern Plains and Prairie Peninsula prehistory. . . . There is a comprehensive explanatory model for regional culture change from late in the Archaic through Woodland and into the Plains Village period. . . . The biggest success of this book relates to the project objectives of reconstructing the nature of Prairie Woodland social formation and accounting for processes of culture change from the beginning to the end of Woodland times in the Prairie  Peninsula."
Michael Gregg, Journal of the Iowa Archeological Society
"Benn's determination to be critical, self-conscious and theoretically informed is a tonic to naive interpretations and simple description. Whether or not the reader is convinced by Benn's arguments, he deserves credit for the attempt to develop theory in the inference of prehistoric Plains cultures. Iowa's Office of the State Archaeologist has produced informative monographs for over 20 years. The Rainbow report is a valuable addition to the series."
Michael Shott, The Michigan Archaeologist
"A fine example of the relevance of geoarchaeological research to Late Holocene archaeology. . . . An inspiration to anyone interested in probing more deeply into the issue of paleoclimatic reconstruction from archaeological data. . . . An invaluable, up-to-date review that specialists and nonspecialists alike will find of value."
James Stoltman, Geoarchaeology

Report 17: Woodland Tradition Economic Strategies: Animal Resource Utilization in Southwestern Wisconsin (Hardcopy + PDF Download)

Author: James L. Theler
1987, 128 pp.

The focus of this study is to outline animal resource utilization during the Woodland tradition (ca. 300 B.C. to A.D. 1000) in the Driftless Area of southwestern Wisconsin and northeastern Iowa. Theler presents a comprehensive study of the Woodland Tradition by examining the full annual cycle of subsistence activities in the upper Mississippi Valley. He identifies a fall-winter segment of the annual round when small human groups concentrated on the harvest of large mammals, principally the white-tailed deer and a summer adaptation involving the procurement of aquatic resources found in the riverine setting of the Mississippi River. The book represents a landmark in the study of aboriginal diet, seasonal resource scheduling, and the dimensions of change and stability.
". . . adds a new dimension to upper Mississippi Valley archaeology. . . . Woodland Tradition Economic Strategies is a welcome and informative addition to Midwestern archaeology. It should be in the library of every archaeologist interested in Midwestern archaeology and in the emergence of cultural complexity among hunter-gatherers."
Guy Gibbon, Journal of the Iowa Archeological Society
"Theler has produced an excellent account of economic variation and change in the upper Midwest. The book is very well written and deserves a wide readership. It will be of particular value to anyone with an interest in faunal analysis, fresh-water mussels, or Midwestern archaeology."
Robert E. Warren, American Antiquity 

Report 16: A Choice of Diet: Response to Climatic Change (Hardcopy + PDF Download)

Author: John E. Dallman
1983, 134 pp.

Mill Creek occupation in northwestern Iowa began about A.D. 900 and declined around A.D. 1500. This period straddles a time of marked climate change in the region. The warm, moist Neo-Atlantic episode offered a climate that was favorable to both agriculture and the support of woodland ecosystems. About A.D. 1200 this episode began to give way to the cooler, dryer Pacific episode. This report examines in detail cultural, faunal, and other environmental clues from two Mill Creek sites, the Matt Brewster site (13CK15) and the Phipps site (13CK21), evaluating the effects of climate change on subsistence  activities and interpreting cultural adjustments these changes brought about.

". . . Dallman's work is a scholarly contribution to our understanding of the relationship of man and environment in prehistory. . . . Dallman's book contains essential information for Plains and Midwestern archaeologists, faunal specialists, those interested in climatic change and prehistoric subsistence strategies, and for the more general reader as well."
Thomas E. Emerson, The Wisconsin Archeologist