Bryson-Paddock Site (34KA5)
Archaeologists in Oklahoma have identified a small number of 17th and
18th-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: The Bryson-Paddock site and its sister-site, Deer Creek
(34KA3), came to be called "Ferdinandina" in Spanish and French
documents (Wedel 1988). These converging events propelled the Wichita
into 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.
In June 2004, OU and OSU conducted an archaeological field school at
the Bryson-Paddock site. The site is in north-central Oklahoma along the
Arkansas River near Kaw Lake. Bryson-Paddock is an 18th-century Wichita
village visited by French traders. It is one of the earliest Wichita sites
with extensive contact with Europeans. Previous excavations at this village
and a nearby, sister village (the Deer Creek site) were conducted in 1926
and 1974/1975. 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, and pits.
Looking east at Bryson-Paddock 2003
excavations and across Arkansas River area.
Additional salvage excavations of the site were undertaken
in the summer of 2003. Excavation of a large block of 1 meter squares
and remote sensing (magnetometer and electrical resistivity) of other
areas have identified promising intra-site locations for further investigation.
These findings were used to target specific locations for intensive excavation
during the June 2004 field school. Students conducted excavations to test
a number of features discovered during remote sensing including pits,
hearths, and one of the remaining mounds.
Sample of artifacts from 2003 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? For how long
was it inhabited? 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 ongoin 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 French residence at the village as well as the impact of
extensive European contact on 18th-century Wichita culture.
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, AR.
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.
Thoburn, J.B. and M.H. Wright
1929 Oklahoma, A History of the State and Its People, 2 vols. Lewis Historical
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,
Glass Trade Beads from Bryon-Paddock
New Remote Sensing Results from Bryson-Paddock
Horse bone from Bryson-Paddock
Flash presentation of
Plains Anthropological Society paper on Bryson-Paddock
|Oklahoma State University
Dr. Richard Drass
Oklahoma Archeological Survey,
University of Oklahoma,
111 E. Chesapeake,
Norman, OK 73019
Dr. Susan Vehik
University of Oklahoma
Dale Hall Tower Rm 521
Norman, OK 73019
Dr. Stephen Perkins
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078-4062