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Recognizing the need to inform the public and its elected officials of the urgency in identifying and preserving Paleoindian sites, the SAA’s National Historic Landmark Archeology Committee's first chair, David S. Brose, proposed development of a new theme study on the Earliest Americans to the National Park Service in 1993. The National Park Service approved the proposed project and designated Philadelphia Support Office archeologist Robert S. Grumet as the NPS project coordinator. The National Historic Landmark’s Archeology Committee established an Earliest Americans Theme Study Sub-Committee with David Brose as the SAA’s project coordinator. Project coordinators met with colleagues to discuss the project and request participation at the Society for American Archaeology’s annual meeting in Anaheim, California on April 22, 1994. Shortly thereafter, key National Park Service and national-level and regional project staff and National Historic Landmark Archeological Committee liaisons were appointed. Earliest Americans Theme Study Sub-Committee staff began selection of specialists to prepare regional Historic Contexts. State Historic Preservation Offices were asked to appoint state coordinators to act as links between the project and professional and avocational archeologists. State Historic Preservation coordinators further furnished copies of statewide Paleoindian Historic Contexts and other pertinent survey and planning documentation.

Information provided during this initial survey was used to prepare project announcement brochures and a brief printed project description. More than one thousand of these brochures and several hundred draft project descriptions were distributed by State Historic Preservation Offices and by key project development staff attending professional and scholarly meetings. Requests for public and professional input were also placed in theme study project announcements published in the Federal Archeology Report, CRM Bulletin, and the Mammoth Trumpet. Responses to these efforts helped project staff develop the following theme study goals formally presented to the National Park System Advisory Board’s Landmarks Committee at its’ August 12, 1994 meeting in Washington, D.C.:

  • Gather multi-disciplinary evidence on a nationwide scale.
  • Organize it into historic contexts to systematically identify, evaluate, and nominate properties.
  • Assess the status of existing National Historic Landmark and National Register property documentation.
  • Develop and refine data to maximize use by federal, tribal, state, and local governments and others to recognize, preserve, and commemorate properties associated with the initial peopling of America.
  • Make theme study findings widely available.

Project Report 1, containing a draft theme study framework outline and a preliminary summary of State Historic Preservation Office Paleoindian period Historic Context planning documentation, was distributed for review during the autumn of 1994. A symposium detailing project organization and reporting results of initial public participation activities was presented at the Society for American Archaeology annual meetings in Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 7, 1995.

Additionally, in 1995, the National Park Service coordinated with the National Museum of the American Indian to provide advice, guidance, and perspective in the study. From this coordination, three individuals representing the museum, Joe Brusheck, Clara Sue Kidwell, and Joe Watkins, were asked to act as consultants to the National Park Service. Clara Sue Kidwell and Joe Watkins provided extensive, written comments that were incorporated into the study.

Kidwell and Watkins noted in consultation with the National Park Service that sites can have both archeological and traditional cultural significance. Because the identification of traditional values for all the sites identified here is beyond the scope of this theme study, each property identified for individual nomination will be examined on a case by case basis for recognition of these traditional cultural values. Additionally, all tribes affiliated with an individual site will be identified and given the opportunity to advise and comment on the documentation before a property is presented to the National Park System Advisory Boards, Landmarks Committee.

It should also be noted that restricting sensitive information is of mutual concern to the NPS, Native Americans, and all persons interested in preserving American history. Section 304 of the National Historic Preservation Act, as amended, provides the authority to restrict information that may cause a significant invasion of privacy, that may risk harm to the historic resource, or that may impede the use of a traditional religious site by practitioners (National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended; Section 304; 16 U.S.C. 470w-3(a)).

The National Park Service and its partners consulted with a variety of governmental and non-governmental parties, including Tribal Historic Preservation Officers, for the states discussed in the theme study. Systematic survey of State Historic Preservation Office planning documentation undertaken at the same time revealed that thirty five states had developed Historic Contexts to identify, evaluate, and designate Paleoindian cultural resources. Twenty four of these provided statewide guidance; eleven others developed Historic Contexts for one or more regional sub-divisions within state boundaries. Of the thirty-five fully developed Historic Contexts, eighteen had been developed after 1990.

Survey of extant Historic Contexts and other information submitted by State Historic Preservation Office Coordinators who responded to the inquiries of theme study staff, identified nearly six hundred sites and districts containing intact deposits or other substantial evidence of Paleoindian occupation which were noted to possess information of potential significance for understanding Earliest American life. This list did not include thousands of individual finds, and it could not include data from sites not entered in or not accessible in site inventories. Some states reported no intact deposits within their borders. Others, like Virginia, noted that systematic examination of state site file folders would reveal considerably larger numbers of properties than those initially supplied to theme study staff. Seventy of the properties identified during this preliminary survey were listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Project Report 2, containing the fully developed nationwide theme study framework, was formally presented to the Landmarks Committee on January 10, 1997. Formal theme study documentation guidance, entitled Project Report 3.1, was distributed to State Historic Preservation Office Coordinators for public review and comment on May 30, 1997. A revised draft of the report was placed on the National Park Service’s Discover History internet website in 1998. Theme study geographic coverage was shifted to focus on developments in the eastern half of the nation only during the fall of 1999 because the National Park Service secured commitments for participation in the theme study from scholars in these areas. Consequently, regional boundaries were revised to reflect the number of those scholars willing to participate and their areas of expertise. Existing Historic Context drafts written by University of Massachusetts archeologist Dena F. Dincauze for the Northeast and National Park Service Southeast Archeological Center archeologist David G. Anderson for the Southeast were revised to reflect this new geographic framework. Northeast project area boundaries were shifted to encompass the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Alabama, Arkansas, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia comprised the new Southeast project area. University of Northern Iowa archaeologist Michael J. Shott was selected to develop a new Historic Context for a Midwest project area consisting of the states of Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Each of the Historic Context authors also began work with theme study coordinators Brose and Grumet to develop a comprehensive overview of Earliest American Life in the Eastern United States.

National Park Service regional coordinators distributed drafts of the Midwest, Northeast, and Southeast Historic Contexts throughout their service regions during the spring of 2000. Electronic versions were also posted on the Discover History website. Articles summarizing key features of each Historic Context were published in the Spring/Summer 2000 issue of Common Ground devoted to the theme study. Preparations for final development of the study were completed at a final project meeting held at the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, Maryland on August 14-16, 2001.

The National Historic Landmarks Archeology Committee submitted the final theme study document to the National Park Service on September 30, 2001. The final draft version was made available for comment in January, 2004 on the National Register’s web site. Notice of its availability was published in the National Register’s weekly list and in the Federal Register. National Park Service National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks Survey staff in Washington, D.C. subsequently converted the theme study to the National Register Multiple Property Documentation Format.


Theme Study Participants

David G. Anderson, David S. Brose, Dena F. Dincauze, Michael J. Shott, Robert S. Grumet, and Richard C. Waldbauer

National Park Service Associate Director, Cultural Resources Katherine H. Stevenson, Departmental Consulting Archeologist and Archeology Program Chief Francis P. McManamon, and Carol D. Shull, Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places provided overall project support. Additional support was provided by National Center for Cultural Resources staff-members David Andrews, Michelle C. Aubrey, John Byrne, S. Terry Childs, Pat Henry, John Knoerl, Barbara J. Little, Susan Henry Renaud, Erika Martin Seibert, and John H. Sprinkle and by Lloyd N. Chapman, Joe DiBello, Keith Everett, Shaun Eyring, and Bonnie Halda of the Philadelphia Support Office, Northeast Region. Philadelphia Support Office archeologist Robert S. Grumet provided general theme study coordination. Regional National Park Service coordination was provided in the Midwest by Mark J. Lynott and Vergil E. Noble, in the Northeast by Richard C. Waldbauer, and in the Southeast by Mark R. Barnes. Student Conservation Association diversity intern Andrew Bashaw systematized current Paleoindian designation documentation.

Society for American Archaeology National Historic Landmark Committee members Stanley A. Ahler, Bruce Bourque, Ian W. Brown, Al Dekin, Penelope Drooker, Anabel Ford and Shereen Lerner provided guidance at various phases of theme study development. David S. Brose provided general professional archaeological coordination for the project. The Committee selected David G. Anderson, Dena F. Dincauze, and Michael J. Shott to prepare Historic Contexts for the Southeast, Northeast, and Midwest, project areas respectively. Additional guidance was provided by James M. Adovasio, Robson Bonnichsen, Bruce Bradley, C. Vance Haynes, Jr., Holmes A. Semken, Jr., Dennis J. Stanford, Peter L. Storck and David Yesner. Clara Sue Kidwell and Joe Watkins provided Native American commentaries.

The following State Historic Preservation Office coordinators provided technical assistance and served as liaisons between theme study staff and their state’s professional and avocational archeological communities; Scott F. Anfinson (Minnesota), Richard A. Boisvert (New Hampshire), Robert A. Bradley (Maine), John B. Broster (Tennessee), Kurt W. Carr (Pennsylvania), Stephen R. Claggett (North Carolina), David C. Crass (Georgia), Gwen A. Davis (Delaware), Thomas H. Eubanks (Louisiana), Larry D. Grantham (Missouri), William Green (Iowa), Michael L. Gregg (New Jersey), John R. Halsey (Michigan), Diane Y. Holliday (Wisconsin), Richard B. Hughes (Maryland), James R. Jones, III (Indiana), Nancy J. Kassner (District of Columbia), Robert D. Kuhn (New York), Lora Lamarre (West Virginia), John M. Leader (South Carolina), Bradley T. Lepper (Ohio), Thomas O. Maher (Alabama), George H. McCluskey (Arkansas), Samuel O. McGahey (Mississippi), David Poirier (Connecticut), Giovanna Peebles (Vermont), Paul A. Robinson (Rhode Island), Thomas H. Sanders (Kentucky), Louis D. Tesar (Florida), and E. Randolph Turner, III (Virginia).

Review comments, information, and other assistance were provided by Daniel Amick, Mark F. Baumler, Debra L. Beene, Jeffrey Behm, Charles A. Bello, Robert A. Birmingham, Robert Bozhardt, John L. Cotter, John B. Cresson, Leslie B. Davis, E. James Dixon, Raoul M. Dixon, Boyce Driskell, Jim Dunbar, Brent Eberhard, Colleen Eck, Christopher Ellis, Richard Ervin, Michael K. Faught, Stuart Fiedel, Joseph E. Finneran, Andrea K. L. Freeman, Donna L. Fried, John Gifford, R. Christopher Gillam, Eugene M. Futato, Leland Gilsen, Gloria Gozdzik, Albert C. Goodyear, III, Alice Guerrant, Gary Hume, Ann Johnson, Laura Joss, Paul Y. Inashima, Peggi Jodry, Michael F. Johnson, Kate Kachel, Richard S. Kanaski, Roger Kelly, Bradley Koldehoff, Herbert C. Kraft, Mary Lou Larson, Edward J. Lenik, Bradley T. Lepper, Neal Lopinot, Stephen Loring, Darrin L. Lowery, Dan Martin, William J. Mayer-Oakes, Joseph M. McAvoy, Kevin A. McBride, Jerry McDonald, Frederick McEvoy, Barbara Mead, Jerald T. Milanich, Myles Miller, Juliet E. Morrow, Dan F. Morse, Jr., Joseph Muller, Peter Pagoulatos, Tim Perttula, Stan Pliszka, Jack Ray, Stan Rolf, Gary D. Shaffer, Arthur E. Spiess, Andrew Stanzeski, R. Michael Stewart, James Stoltman, Fern E. Swenson, Kenneth B. Tankersley, Peter A. Thomas, Ronald A. Thomas, Kimberly Tinkham, Alan C. Tonetti, Todd Tucky, Bob Wall, John A. Walthall, Richard A. Weinstein, and Robert M Yohe, II.

Acknowledgments for the Southeast Context

David G. Anderson

Portions of the sections on Research Needs and Questions, and Eligibility Criteria come from earlier Paleoindian Historic Contexts prepared from across the Southeast, albeit these have been substantially revised and updated here. In addition, in the summer of 2000 a draft of this manuscript was sent to every SHPO office in the Southeast by Mark Barnes of NPS's Southeast Regional Office. I thank him, and Cecil McKithan, for their support in the review process. The author would like to thank the following people for advice and assistance in reviewing earlier drafts of this manuscript, or for advice on possible NHL candidates: Mark Barnes, David S. Brose, John Broster, Steven R. Claggett, David C. Crass, Dena F. Dincauze, Boyce Driskell, Jim Dunbar, Tom Eubanks, Michael K. Faught, Stuart Fiedel, Donna L. Freid, Eugene Futato, John Gifford, R. Christopher Gillam, Albert C. Goodyear, III, Bill Green, Robert Grumet, C. Vance Haynes, Neal Lopinot, Thomas Maher, Jerry McDonald, Samuel O. McGahey, Jack Ray, Tom Sanders, Louis Tesar, and Richard C. Waldbauer. Louis Tesar deserves particular thanks for providing 30 pages of detailed commentary on the manuscript, as part of a valuable summary on Florida's Paleoindian resources. Specific calibrated radiocarbon ages reported here were obtained using the on-line version of the Calib 4.3 program (Stuiver et al. 1998).

Acknowledgments for the Northeast Context

Dena F. Dincauze

Original research is not done in isolation. I gratefully acknowledge the collegiality that made this project possible. Working with David Anderson, David Brose, Michael Shott, Robert Grumet, Richard Waldbauer, and Lloyd Chapman has been gratifying and enriching. Anderson and Grumet, especially, challenged me to enlarge my awareness and clarify my thinking. Not part of the project group, but nevertheless involved, was Lucinda McWeeney, who contributed significantly as a willing travel companion and discussant on paleoecology. The following colleagues provided stimulating discussions and conversations on matters Paleoindian: Kurt Carr, Mary Lou Curran, Robert Funk, John Holland, Victoria Jacobson, Peter Storck, and Richard Will. Carr and Will, as well as Richard Boisvert and the late Douglas Kellogg, graciously hosted site tours.

The library resources at my disposal being inadequate to the task, the following people generously provided otherwise unavailable references: James Adovasio, Nicholas Bellantoni, Richard Boisvert, Anthony Boldurian, James Bradley, Victoria Bunker, Christopher Ellis, Stuart Fiedel, Stephen Loring, Roger Moeller, Giovanna Peebles, Arthur Spiess, Peter Thomas, and Richard Will. When I needed to go beyond the published record, James Bradley, Brian Deller, Mary Lou Curran, Robert Funk, John Holland, Philip La Porta, Alan Levaillee, Stephen Loring, George Nicholas, and David Sanger supplied information not otherwise available, as well as discussion of local issues in their specialties.

For technical advice and editorial skills, I am indebted to Robert Grumet, Erika Martin Seibert, and David Brose. I assume full responsibility for any errors of fact or interpretation that remain in the text or the approach taken here.

Acknowledgments for the Midwest Context

Michael J. Shott

David Brose of the Schiele Museum of Natural History solicited this essay and provided advice and counsel during its writing. Robert Grumet, Francis McManamon, Vergil Noble and Richard Waldbauer of the National Park Service also advised me. Shamelessly, I cribbed organization and some text from the excellent syntheses written by David Anderson, also of the Park Service, and Dena Dincauze of the University of Massachusetts. Thanks are due to Kimberly Tinkham of the Indiana Historic Preservation Office, William Green and Colleen Eck of the Iowa Office of the State Archaeologists, Barbara Mead of the Michigan Historical Center, Brent Eberhard, Bradley Lepper and Todd Tucky of the Ohio Historic Preservation Office, and Robert Birmingham and Diane Holliday of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, who answered requests for site records. Birmingham and Mead deserve special thanks for the amount and detail of information provided. Thanks also are due to the following archaeologists for supplying reprints or mss.: Daniel Amick, Jeffrey Behm, Robert Boszhardt, Christopher Ellis, Bradley Koldehoff, Bradley Lepper, Joseph Muller, Peter Storck, Kenneth Tankersley and John Walthall.

  section G  section I  




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