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Spiro Mounds site shell engravingOklahoma's Past
 

Jefferson County

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The Longest Site

In the first part of the 18th century, some Wichita groups lived in thriving villages along the Arkansas River in north-central Oklahoma and carried on a lively trade with French trappers. However, by the mid-1700's, it is thought that those people had migrated south to the Red River. Wichita trade with the French continued with the French traveling along the Red River from Louisiana. To the southwest, Spanish missionaries had established a mission near modern-day Menard, Texas. A fort under the direction of Diego Ortiz Parrilla was charged with protection of the mission.

Responding to sporadic attacks on the Spanish fort and mission by allied tribes from the North believed to be Wichita, Comanche, and Tonkawa, Diego Ortiz Parrilla with a force of 500 marched from San Antonio to a Taovayas village on the Red River in 1759. The Wichita warriors attacked and forced the Spanish and their Apache allies to flee. The Spanish left behind two cannons they had brought along but which proved to be ineffectual in the deep sands of the south bank of the Red River.

Accounts of the battle and impressions of the Taovayas village have been translated from the original Spanish documents. In a location along the north side of the Red River, the Taovayas had built a circular stockade protected by an earthen rampart and moat. According to the Spanish, the stockade had underground tunnels in which people sheltered during an attack. Round, grass-thatch houses made up the Taovayas village outside the stockade. A Comanche camp of tall tipis along with the village of another band of Wichita were reported in the immediate area. The Wichita and their allies had many horses and were well-armed. The Spanish reported extensive corn fields near the villages.

 

Metal ornament

Brass gun ornament from the Longest site

In 1965-1966, excavations at a site about 15 miles south of Ringling, Oklahoma revealed the Taovayas village detailed in the Spanish records of the Parrilla expedition. The site, named after the Longest family who had farmed in the area for many years, covered an area of 35-40 acres. Situated above the Red River on a broad terrace, the site is protected from flooding by its elevation. Circular depressions with posthole patterns, trash mounds, storage pits and many European (mostly French) trade items along with traditional Wichita artifacts were recovered in the excavations. The discovery in aerial photos of a large circular stain in the soil similar to those known for other archeological sites in Oklahoma (at the Duncan and Deer Creek site) led to further excavations at the Longest site. Archeologists concluded the circular stain represented evidence of the log stockade constructed by the Wichita to protect their village.

1834 painting by George Catlin of Wichita house

Posthole pattern of excavated house (about 30 feet in diameter) from the Longest site.

Visit the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes website.

For further reading, consult:

A Pilot Study of Wichita Indian Archeology and Ethnohistory edited by Robert E. Bell, Edward B. Jelks and W.W. Newcomb, Final Report for National Science Foundation Grant GS-964, August 1967.

 

Prehistoric Sites in Jefferson County Identified to Time Period

Chart of sites by 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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