The Lasley Vore Site
View of the Arkansas River from
the Lasley-Vore Site
(photos on this page courtesy Dr. George Odell, University of Tulsa)
In 1988, the Kimberly-Clark Corporation initiated an archaeological
survey of land along the Arkansas River in Tulsa County where they
intended to build a tissue factory. University of Tulsa archaeologist
George Odell, while surveying this area, found a site from the early
historic period with both Native American artifacts and European
trade goods from the 18th century. Since this site seemed likely
to be important to our understanding of a little-known period, archaeologists
began a two-month salvage excavation at the site.
Dr. Odell used a Ditch-Witch, a pipe-trenching tool, to determine
the extent of the site, the types of artifacts and their distribution
and concentrations on the site. Because of time constraints, the
upper, plowed portion of the site was removed with a belly loader.
This work revealed soil stains or smears where storage and trash
pits and hearths had been dug into the subsoil. Eventually 81 such
features were excavated.
Screening soil from the Ditch-Witch trench
The site after the plowzone had been
removed by a bellyloader.
Hide scrapers, projectile points, bison scapulae hoes, and
pottery -- all the typical artifacts of Wichita occupations
in the late prehistoric in Oklahoma -- showed up in the excavations.
Additionally, the materials associated with French traders
of the 18th century also were found. Trade beads, axe heads,
metal knives and gun parts all were found at the site. Dr.
Odell identified five areas of the site which were used for
different activities including two central concentrations
devoted to domestic chores like cooking and hide scraping
and three peripheral areas where projectile points were reworked
and wood working occurred. Analysis of pottery sherds from
these peripheral areas shows that the clay used in the pottery's
manufacture was from areas different from the pottery in the
central areas. He concludes that the people living in the
peripheral areas may have been from groups different from
the central area peoples. This is significant in his consideration
of just when the Lasley Vore site was occupied and who the
people, native and European, were who met on this terrace
overlooking the Arkansas River.
Reconstructed pot from the Lasley-Vore site
The first European to contact the native people of eastern Oklahoma
was a Frenchman by the name of Jean-Baptiste, Sieur de la Harpe
in 1719. LaHarpe traveled north from a Caddo village along the Red
River with a handful of men to a stream he called the Alcansas.
There he met a young Tawakoni
chief in an encampment of 6,000 people. Over the course of LaHarpe's
ten day visit, another 1,000 native people from other groups came
to meet the trader (perhaps they camped at those "peripheral
areas" discovered during the Lasley Vore excavation?)..
The course he took to reach this village has been debated for decades,
but many scholars put his destination close to the area where the
Lasley-Vore site is located. While excavation of the Lasley Vore
site may not have settled the issue conclusively, Dr. Odell notes
that the site has all the attributes that would be expected at the
site where the Tawakoni welcomed LaHarpe in 1719.
For further reading:
LaHarpe's Post A Tale of French-Wichita Contact on the Eastern
Plains by George H. Odell, University of Alabama Press, 2002.
Number of Prehistoric Sites in Tulsa
County Identified to Time Period