The Flanagan Site: 6,000 Years of Occupation in the Upper Willamette Valley, Oregon
Toepel, Kathryn Anne
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Toepel, Kathryn Anne
The culture of the Kalapuya Indians of the Willamette Valley, the largest interior valley in western Oregon, does not easily fit within the culture area schemes defined by anthropologists for native North America. Anthropologists have assigned the Willamette Valley to both the Northwest Coast and the interior Columbia Plateau culture areas. The Willamette Valley differs, however, in lacking the substantial anadromous fish runs which played such an important role in the subsistence practices of most of the native peoples of the Pacific Northwest. As a result, the Kalapuya and their ancestors relied on hunting and gathering rather than fishing as their primary means of subsistence. Because of the limited material culture generally associated with the prehistoric hunter-gatherers of the Willamette Valley, relatively few comprehensive archaeological studies have been conducted in the region. As a result, many of the basic questions concerning prehistoric occupation in the Willamette Valley remain partially or wholly unanswered. The present study is focused primarily on refining the chronology of prehistoric occupation in this region, a basic prerequisite for approaching Willamette Valley prehistory on a regional basis. This study is based on the chronological patterns evident in the 6,000-year-old cultural sequence investigated at the Flanagan site, a task-specific seasonal camp in the Long Tom Sub-basin of the Upper Willamette Valley. The Flanagan site assemblage, representing the longest continuous occupation documented in the Willamette Valley to date, is used to define a temporally-significant projectile point typology. Changes in projectile point types as well as the frequency and distribution of other tools are used to define three cultural components at the Flanagan site. The major change in site use appears to correlate with the transition from the Hypsithermal to the Late Postglacial climatic interval. The Flanagan components are in turn related to three of the chronological phases proposed for the Upper Willamette Valley. The archaeological record from the Flanagan site provides a long-term perspective on the hunter-gatherer adaptations in the Willamette Valley which culminated in the ethnographically-known culture of the Kalapuya Indians.