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Grady County

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Grady County, Oklahoma

The Jewett Site, 34Gd81

Archeologists working at the Jewett site

Salvaging archeological features at the Jewett site as oil pad is cleared.

The Jewett site first came to the attention of the Oklahoma Archeological Survey in 1977 when property owners Robert and Helen Jewett reported that an irrigation pipeline excavation had uncovered human bone and some evidently prehistoric artifacts. Survey archeologists examined the site and determined that, based on surface indications, it appeared to be quite extensive. Though the site had been disturbed by both the pipeline and an earlier railroad bed and road surface, the Jewett site represented the remains of an important Plains Village site of the Washita River phase. Since the site still appeared to be largely intact, archeologists decided to nominate the Jewett site to the National Register of Historic Places. The National Register was created by the 1966 National Historic Preservation Act and is the nation's list of places meriting special treatment due to their historic and cultural significance.

In 1992, the Jewett family notified the Archeological Survey that an oil well pad was going to be constructed on a portion of the site. The oil company agreed to allow archeologists to monitor the bulldozing of the northeast corner of the site. This disturbance revealed (and largely destroyed) features including burials, pits and two midden (trash or refuse) deposits. Salvage excavations were undertaken and the materials recovered have helped expand our understanding of the lives of the people who lived along the Washita River in the period from A.D. 1250-1400.

The Washita River phase of the Plains Village period in Oklahoma describes a time when Native American people who were the ancestors of today's Wichita farmed the fertile terraces of the Washita River growing corn, beans, squash, tobacco and probably other crops as well. The river itself, home to ducks, catfish, gar and bass provided food while the lands around the Washita were home to deer, turkey, small game like rabbits and squirrels, and, of course, the large herds of bison that provided the bulk of the meat in the villagers' diet.

There were villages like this one at the Jewett site all along the river during this time -- perhaps as many as a village every mile or so with perhaps ten or more houses in each village.

Projectile points from Gd81

Arrow points (top) and dart point from the Jewett site.

There were four human burials recovered from the site at this time. These burials were subject to Oklahoma's laws regarding unmarked graves known as the Burial Desecration Act . The Wichita and Affiliated Tribes allowed archeologists to study the recovered bones to learn as much as possible about the lives of the people who lived at the Jewett site. The skeletal material was poorly preserved both because of the age of the burials and the the destruction at the site by the bulldozer. The human remains were returned to the Wichita for re-burial.

For more information about the first people of Oklahoma, visit the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes website.


Reference: Oklahoma Archeology, "The Jewett Site: A Washita River Phase Village in South-Central Oklahoma," by David F. Morgan and Richard R. Drass with a contribution by Vickie L. Wedel, Vol. 52, No. 2, 2004.

Number of Prehistoric Sites in Grady County Identified to Time Period

Prehistoric sites in Grady County identified to time period.


Paleo = ?-8,000 BP / Archaic = 8,000-2,000 BP / Woodland = 2,000-1,000 BP / Village 1000-500 BP
BP (before present)


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