University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University

Summer 2011 Archeological Field School

From May 31 to July 2, 2011, OU and OSU will conduct an Archeological Field School at the Bryson-Paddock site (under the sponsorship of Oklahoma State University, the University of Oklahoma, and the Oklahoma Archeological Survey). The site is in north-central Oklahoma along the Arkansas River near Kaw Lake. Bryson-Paddock is an eighteenth-century Wichita village that was visited by French traders. It is one of the earliest Wichita sites that had extensive contact with Europeans. Excavations have been conducted at this village and a nearby, sister village in 1926, 1974/1975, and 2003-2009. The site is noted for mounds containing trash that includes metal and glass trade materials as well as native artifacts and features such as house patterns, hearths, pits, and fortification ditches.

Remote sensing (magnetometer and electrical resistivity and conductivity) of several areas of the village have identified promising locations for further investigation. These findings include a fortification and associated features that will be targeted for further excavation during the June 2011 field school. Students will conduct excavations into a number of features discovered during magnetic surveys. We will also conduct additional gradiometer surveys at the village to better define the fortification and other features. In addition, students will train on a laser mapping station and Garmin GPS unit during the field school.

Looking east at Bryson-Paddock excavations and across Arkansas River area.

Archaeologists in Oklahoma have identified a small number of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century villages in the state where they believe intensive contact occurred between European and Native American peoples. To date, however, none of these sites have been thoroughly examined. The Bryson-Paddock (34KA5) site is located on a bluff overlooking the Arkansas River near Newkirk, Oklahoma. An earlier generation of archaeologists and historians determined that Bryson-Paddock served as one of 3 or 4 major ports-of-trade where Wichita Indians met French trappers/traders from the Arkansas Post near the junction of the Arkansas and Mississippi rivers. For a number of years in the early to mid 18th century French entrepreneurs traded with the Wichita bringing European trade goods to Oklahoma and moving large quantities of meat and hides to New Orleans with some eventually shipped to Europe. Reports of French traders among the Wichita also spurred Spanish expeditions into the region, since the latter saw their own colonial ambitions threatened. French and Spanish explorers documented their encounters with the Wichita (Wedel 1988). Thus, the Wichita came to be central players in the European struggle for the Southern Plains. Excavations at Bryson-Paddock together with archival research will help us to better understand these complex historical relations.

Sample of artifacts from testing at the Bryson-Paddock site

While the importance of the Bryson-Paddock site has long been recognized (e.g., Thoburn and Wright 1929; Wedel 1988; Bell 1984), prior work there did little in terms of addressing many important issues. Was Bryson-Paddock a Wichita encampment visited by the French or a fortified French trading post where Wichita brought bison and deer hides to trade? How extensive were the Wichita fortifications and did they use subterranean structures that were later described for the fortification at the Longest site on the Red River? Did they build other earthen features at this village? For how long was the site inhabited? Multiple ditches have been identified at Bryson-Paddock but were these constructed at one time or did the size of the fort expand or contract over time? In terms of chronology, how did its occupation relate to similar Wichita occupations in Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas? Finally, and perhaps most importantly, how did this trading partnership impact the culture and society of the Wichita? The current project thus represents a special opportunity to address many of the longstanding questions about early Wichita-French-Spanish interaction and to make a significant contribution to the early history of Oklahoma. The research is designed to evaluate the activities that occurred at this large site and identify the extent of the fortifications and related features as well as the impact of extensive European contact on 18th century Wichita culture.

Students enrolled in the field school will gain experience in excavation techniques, surveying, remote sensing, and lab processing. Participants will also learn mapping techniques with a total mapping station and Garmin GPS unit. Other lessons will include archeological photography, profiling, flotation, and soil identification. Lectures will be presented on Southern Plains Village prehistory and early Wichita archeology. Field trips may be scheduled for nearby archeological sites.


Bell, Robert E.
1984 "Protohistoric Wichita. In Prehistory of Oklahoma, edited by Robert E. Bell, pp. 363-378. Academic Press, Orlando.

Drass, Richard, Susan Vehik, Stephen Perkins, and Dave Maki
2003 Archeological Investigations at Bryson-Paddock, 34KA5: An 18th-Century Wichita/French Contact Village. Paper presented at the 61st Plains Anthropological Conference, Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Hartley, John D., and A. Francie Miller
1977 Archaeological Investigations at the Bryson-Paddock Site; An Early Contact Period Site on the Southern Plains. University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma River Basin Survey, Archaeological Site Report 42.

Perkins, Stephen M., Susan C. Vehik, and Richard R. Drass

2008†††† The Hide Trade and Wichita Social Organization: An Assessment of Ethnological Hypotheses Concerning Polygyny.† In Land of Our Ancestors: Studies in Protohistoric and Historic Wichita Cultures edited by Timothy G. Baugh and Stephen M. Perkins. Memoir 40, Plains Anthropologist 53:431-443.

Thoburn, J.B., and M.H. Wright
1929 Oklahoma, A History of the State and Its People, 2 vols. Lewis Historical Publishing Co.

Vehik, Susan C., Lauren M. Cleeland, Richard R. Drass, Stephen M. Perkins, and Liz Leith.

2010 ††† The Plains Hide Trade: French Impacts on Wichita Technology and Society. In Across the Great Divide: Continuity and Change in North American Societies, A.D. 1400-1900, edited by Laura L. Scheiber and Mark D. Mitchell, pp. 149-173. University of Arizona Press, Tuscon.

Wedel, Mildred M.
1988 The Deer Creek Site, Oklahoma: A Wichita Village Sometimes Called Ferdinandina, An Ethnohistorians View. In The Wichita Indians 1541-1750: Ethnohistorical Essays. Reprints in Anthropology Vol. 38:164-176.

Dates, Schedules, and Activities for the 2006 Field School:

The course will extend five weeks from May 30 through July 2.† Students will be expected to arrive at the camp location on May 30. Excavations, surveys, and lab work will finish July 2 with cleanup and other work. Excavations are scheduled Monday through Friday. Lectures will be given in the evenings and lab work may extend into the evenings. Weekends are generally free time although some field trips may be scheduled. In addition, students will be expected to stay in camp one of the weekends during the field session.


The field school will be based at a camp adjacent to Kaw Lake. Students should bring their own tents and camping equipment. The camp ground has water, showers, and bathrooms. Students will be responsible for their own breakfast and lunch. Joint evening meals will be prepared with each student contributing weekly for the cost of this meal.


Students should bring equipment for excavations. Field equipment should include a minimum of the following:

1 trowel (get one with a solid welded handle) usually a Marshalltown size 5 either square or pointed. These can be found at many hardware stores among masons tools.)

1 three or five meter metric tape or rule (we recommend retractable metal tapes (you usually can find these with both metric and English measurements, make sure you get one with metric measurements - centimeters)

2 brushes -- one small, about 1 to 2 inches, and one larger.

1 line level to attach to string -- these can be found at hardware stores

1 tool box to hold equipment -- these can vary from old army ammunition boxes or small tool boxes to backpacks.

Other Recommended Equipment:

Work Gloves -- these are handy for screening and digging

A small file for sharpening your trowel

Small dental probes or picks

Bamboo picks -- these can be made by splitting bamboo and sharpening one end to a rounded point. They need only be a few inches long.

String -- Nylon is recommended

Donít forget suntan lotion, bug spray, etc.

Enrollment for the 2011 Field School Begins February 1st

Field School Application Ė follow the link and fill out and submit an application form for the 2011 Field School (forms can be submitted before February 1). You can use the contact listed below to obtain more information on enrolling and tuition. Questions about the field school should be sent to one of the Co-Directors listed at the bottom of this page.

Contact: OSU Arts & Sciences Outreach Office (213 LSE, OSU, Stillwater, 74078)
or Call: 405-744-5647
Cost: Undergraduate Tuition + Fees: $1,120.50 †(ANTH 3390); $40.00 (application fee) + evening meals (cost to be determined)
†††††††† Graduate Tuition + Fees: $1,329.00 (ANTH 5990); $15.00 (application fee) + evening meals (cost to be determined)

Contact: OU Anthropology Department


or Call:

Cost: Undergraduate Tuition + Fees:

†††††††† Graduate Tuition + Fees:

Please Contact One of the Field School Co-Directors:
Richard Drass, Oklahoma Archeological Survey,
Susan Vehik, Chair, Deparment of Anthropology, OU,
Stephen Perkins, Associate Professor of Anthropology, OSU,


Oklahoma State University

Dr. Stephen Perkins
Sociology Department
431 Murray Hall
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078-4062
or email at

University of Oklahoma 

Dr. Richard Drass
Oklahoma Archeological Survey
University of Oklahoma
111 E. Chesapeake
Norman, OK 73019
or email at

Dr. Susan Vehik
Anthropology Department
University of Oklahoma
Dale Hall Tower Rm 521
Norman, OK 73019
or email at