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Cartwright, Carol Lohry; Shaffer, Scott; Waller, Randal / City on the Rock River : chapters in Janesville's history
(1998)

1. Prehistoric and historic Native American occupation,   pp. 1-42


Page 4

portions of North America were beginning to be reforested. Sites of the Late Paleoindian period
are largely restricted to the western U.S. and Canada, especially in the Great Plains area.
Artifacts relating to these cultures have been recovered to a lesser extent in the western margins
of the Eastern Woodlands and in areas such as the western Great Lakes. Late Paleoindian sites
have been reported for most of the counties of Wisconsin. While they may exist, none have been
recorded in the Janesville area.
The distinctive artifact of this period is the unfluted lanceolate point. These graceful, well-
made points were probably derived from the earlier fluted points. Associated with these
points are a variety of other chipped stone tools including several varieties of scrapers, wedges,
and bipolar cores. Most of these artifact categories, aside from the projectile points, have long
and complex histories, and their presence cannot be taken as indicative of any particular
cultural phase or tradition. With their lanceolate points Late Paleoindian peoples hunted the
dwindling populations of large mammals as well as species such as caribou and deer. Fishing
and exploitation of waterfowl may also have been an important activity.
Like the Early Paleoindians, social dynamics during the Late Paleoindian period probably
revolved around family units or other small kin bands with larger groups possibly meeting on a
seasonal basis. Researchers have had a difficult time in developing a picture of Paleoindian
social organization, subsistence, settlement, and other non-material cultural elements. This is
because Paleoindian cultural remains are less diverse than more recent cultures and difficult to
find. Mason (1981:82) has described Paleoindians as follows:
Unfortunately... these earliest inhabitants were few in number and lived in such small-
scale, widely scattered, nomadic, and lightly equipped societies that they left only a
scanty archaeological record. And because they were the first people, erosion has had
a longer time to gnaw on their remains.
Six distinct Paleoindian cultural manifestations (or complexes) have been defined in
southeastern Wisconsin (Overstreet 1991:267). These include Clovis, Folsom, Gainey, Chesrow,
Plano, and Cody. Few of the known characteristics from these complexes have been delineated
through excavation; the majority of data comes from examinations of the surface. The Clovis-
related complex has been defined through the traditional archeological typological
perspective, with a heavy influence on Clovis cultural perspectives developed from
undisturbed western U. S. sites. The Folsom-related complex has been defined by the presence
of only a handful of projectile points. However, the definition of a Folsom presence included a
restrictive working typology. The defining criteria sacrificed all-inclusiveness in the hopes of
attaining reliability (Stoltman and Workman 1969:204-205).
A complex exists in southeastern Wisconsin that appears to be distinct from the Clovis and
Folsom complexes also present in the state. This well-represented non-Clovis and non-Folsom
fluted point manifestation is probably related typologically, spatially, and presumably
temporally to the Gainy complex of southern Michigan and Ontario (Overstreet 1991:271). The
presence of the Chesrow complex has been defined through excavation and may represent the
terminal fluted point expression in Wisconsin (Overstreet 1993). What has been termed the
Plano complex has been defined by a series of stemmed and non-stemmed lanceolate projectile
points that post-date those of the fluted point traditions. Finally, the Cody complex appears
to be widespread in Wisconsin. It represents a Late-Paleoindian manifestation originally
thought to be confined to the western plains.
The Paleoindian Tradition is identified with the first people known to have entered what is
now Wisconsin. These hunters and gatherers followed game into the vast territory being opened
Prehistoric and Historic Native American Occupation
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