Turkey Creek Phase
A.D. 1250-1450

Mano and Metate near Turkey Creek Pit

Grinding Basin and Mano from Pit at Heerwald Site

Turkey Creek is similar to the Washita River phase to the east. Villages are often very large. The best documented Turkey Creek site, Heerwald, is west of Clinton, Oklahoma; it came to the attention of archeologists in the 1950's when Interstate 40 was constructed across part of it.

Turkey Creek houses are usually supported by four center posts. They were about 15' X 20' with a central hearth.

  Crushed, fossil-laden shale is the tempering agent of choice for Turkey Creek potters. While the Washita River people to the east largely abandoned the use of cordmarking to decorate pottery, Turkey Creek people continued this tradition from the Custer Phase. Smoothed pots, such as this one, are the most common form. Pots sometimes have handles and appliqued tabs and nodes.

Turkey Creek hunters targeted bison in the prairies near their villages. One hundred years later, after Coronado marched from New Mexico to central Kansas, one of his soldiers wrote about the high plains of the Texas panhandle:
he came upon the cattle
[bison], which are the most monstrous beasts ever seen or read about ... There are such multitudes of them that I do not know what to compare them with unless it be the fish in the sea ... because the plains were covered with them.


Those same multitudes of bison probably also inhabited western Oklahoma during the Turkey Creek Phase. Bison bone tools, like digging sticks made from leg bones and shoulder bone hoes are common at these sites. The hoe to the right was hafted to a wood shaft.

Wide-ranging trade networks are believed to have connected the Turkey Creek people to the Puebloans to the west and other Caddoan groups to the east and northeast.

This Mississippian Culture pot uncovered at a Turkey Creek site resembles one found in Tennessee and may have been traded from that far away. Turkey Creek people may have traded their bison robes, meat and grease for pots, cherts, pipestone, seashells and other desired goods from distant places.

By 1550, Apachean groups moved into the prairies of western Oklahoma. Fortified sites occupied by the descendants of the Turkey Creek people may show conflict between these cultures, but they may also have served as centers for trade. Apache traders are known to have visited pueblos in New Mexico. Archeologists believe they may have brought trade goods from the Plains Villagers at the fortified sites.