European Trade Items

European Trade Items

European trade goods are found on a number of Oklahoma archaeological sites and provide help in establishing the age of the occupation. The earliest possible contact items would be materials obtained from the Coronado Expedition into the plains in 1540. Although artifacts believed to represent this early contact have been found in Kansas, nothing of a similar nature has been found in Oklahoma.

At the present time, the white trade materials found within the state tend to fall into two broad time periods: 1) trade goods that was obtained from the French and Spanish during the 18th century, and 2) trade goods associated with various Indian tribes that were removed to Oklahoma from elsewhere. This later period is primarily represented by the early half of the 19th century.

Our information is best for the French trade materials that were being traded to the Wichita Indians living along the Arkansas River in Kay County, Oklahoma. Items which have been found on these sites include various metal parts of trade guns including gun barrels, vise jaws, vise screws, tumblers, tumbler bridles, triggers, main-springs, frizzens, frizzen springs, trigger plates, side plates, butt plates, ramrod guides, lead


bullets, and gun flints. Other metal items include sheath and clasp knives, hoe blades, axe blades, iron scrapers, iron awls, kettle fragments, kettle bails, copper wire, sleigh bells, hawk bells, rivets, metal tinklers, a variety of glass beads, mirror fragments, and miscellaneous pieces of iron and brass. Examples of an iron hoe, axe, knife, tinklers, and gun flints are illustrated in Figure 50. There are some aboriginal artifacts found in association with these trade items: these include pottery sherds, clay pipes, flint arrowheads, flint scrapers, abraders, grinding stones, and a variety of bone items including hoes, awls, and pendants.

Sites which were occupied after Indian removal are frequently difficult to identify as the materials found are similar to those in the households of early white pioneers. The Indians cultural inventory of this time period was essentially composed of white manufactured materials with little native material being present. Some groups, such as the Choctaw, Creek, Seminole, and Chickasaws still produced a little pottery but specimens are not plentiful. An occasional glass bead or metal arrow point is sometimes found, but these also are scarce.

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