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This article was printed in New Perspectives on Cahokia Views from the Periphery edited by James B. Stoltman published in 1991 by Prehistory Press.

The Mississippian Presence in the Red Wing Area, Minnesota


Guy E. Gibbon
Department of Anthropology, University of Minnesota

Clark A. Dobbs
Institute for Minnesota Archaeology


Archaeological Research in the Red Wing Area: A Review
Site Content and Distribution
Types of Sites and Their Distribution
Site Content and Patterning
The Bryan Site (21GD4)
The Silvernale Site (21GD3)
The Bartron Site (21GD2)
The Adams Site (47PI12)
The Energy Park Site (21GD158)
An Interpretationof the Mississippian Presence in the Red Wing Area
Cahokia-Inspired Contact Situations: An Evaluation
References Cited
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Middle Mississippian traits are concentrated in two areas of Minnesota, at the confluence of the Cannon and Mississippi rivers near Red Wing and along the main trench of the Minnesota River from Mankato to the Red River of the North. Few other Middle Mississippian traits have been found in the state outside of these two areas (Gibbon 1991). Even though there are significant differences in the physical environment of these areas, both can be characterized as northern deciduous gallery forest habitats with adjacent areas of tall-grass prairie. Elden Johnson's paper in this volume summarizes our present understanding of the Middle Mississippian presence along the trench of the Minnesota River. This paper reviews the nature and distribution of Middle Mississippian traits near Red Wing, the area of the state where these traits occur in greatest abundance and in purest form.

In order to contribute most directly to the concerns of this volume- the nature of Cahokia-periphery interaction- we have structured our discussion around the four culture contact situations suggested for consideration by Stoltman in his symposium prospectus (for a more complete discussion of these situations see Stoltman 1986). These contact situations are: (1) a 'pure' Middle Mississippian intrusion into a non-Mississippian region; (2) an intrusion of a Middle Mississippian population segment, perhaps an elite, into the Cahokia hinterland; (3) a site-unit intrusion of Late Woodland emissaries; (4) culture contact without permanent population displacement, probably involving trade.

We first review the history and results of archaeological research in the Red Wing area, and then summarize our own understanding at the time of the symposium of the Middle Mississippian and Oneota presence there. We conclude by assessing the applicability of Stoltman's four contact situations to our region of study.

  Archaeological Research in the Red Wing Area: A Review

The Red Wing area has long been known as one of the richest archaeological regions in Minnesota. As early as 1823, the exceptional density of prehistoric earthworks scattered across the landscape at the juncture of the Mississippi and Cannon rivers was noted by Major Stephen Long and Ensign James Colhoun (Kane, Holmquist, and Gilman 1978:151, 279). The Rev. J. F. Aiton investigated stone 'cairns' on the bluffs above the Cannon River in 1848 and produced the only substantive account of these unusual structures that survives today (in Winchell 1911:165).

During the mid-1880s, T. H. Lewis, the field surveyor and partner of A. J. Hill in the Northwestern Archaeological Survey, recorded and mapped more than 2,000 mounds on the Wisconsin and Minnesota sides of the Mississippi River near Red Wing (see Winchell 1911; Dobbs 1986a). The records of this survey are particularly valuable to modern scholars, since almost all of these mounds are now destroyed. At the turn of the century, J. V. Brower and Dr. W. M. Sweeney also recorded a number of mounds in the region, particularly on Prairie Island, and documented the presence of several major village sites (Brower 1903: frontispiece, 49 68).

Modern archaeological investigations began in the late 1940s with Moreau Maxwell's excavations for Beloit College at the Mero site (Maxwell 1950; Rodell, this volume) and Lloyd A. Wilford's University of Minnesota excavations at the Bartron, Silvernale, and Bryan sites (Figure 13.1; Wilford 1952, 1955, 1956, 1958, 1985, n.d.; Stortroen 1957, 1985; Gibbon 1979). Wilford recognized that the clearest expression of Middle Mississippian traits in Minnesota occurred within this complex of sites, which he referred to as the Silvernale focus, a focus whose ceramics were "clearly related to Aztalan, to Apple River, and to the Monks Mound aspect" (Wilford 1955:140). Nonetheless, he included the Silvernale focus within the Upper Mississippi phase, which he regarded "as due to a fusion of Middle Mississippi elements with older Woodland elements..." (ibid.:141).

Excavations were also carried out on both sides of the Mississippi River during the 1960s and early 1970s, with Elden Johnson (University of Minnesota) excavating portions of the Bartron site and the Birch Lake Mound group on Prairie Island in the late 1960s (Johnson et al. 1969; Gibbon 1979), and Robert Alex (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) excavating additional portions of the Mero (Diamond Bluff Complex) site in the early 1970s (Rodell, this volume). Other small-scale excavations and tests were conducted at the Bryan and Silvernale sites (Dobbs 1985b; Gibbon 1979).

The first systematic survey of Goodhue County was carried out by Christina Harrison for the State Wide Archaeological Survey in the late 1970s (Harrison 1981), and in 1983 the Institute for Minnesota Archaeology (IMA) initiated a long-term research program in the area. To date, the IMA has conducted both extensive surveys (Dobbs 1985a) and excavations at a number of sites, including Bryan (Dobbs 1985b, 1987), Energy Park (Dobbs 1986b; Dobbs and Breakey 1987), and Adams (see below).

  Site Content and Distribution

Although these surveys and excavations clearly document a Middle Mississippian presence in the Red Wing area, they also document the presence of other archaeological complexes in the same area, including Woodland, Oneota, Cambria, and Silvernale. Selected information about this entire array of complexes is summarized here, for familiarity with both types of evidence- Mississippian and non-Mississippian-is essential, we believe, in assessing the applicability of Stoltman's four contact situations to our region of study.

  Types of Sites and Their Distribution

An underlying assumption of the IMA's recent surveys in the Red Wing area is that Silvernale phase sites, if derived from a Middle Mississippian base via site-unit intrusion, should have a characteristic Middle Mississippian settlement pattern, both internally and regionally. More precisely, if site-unit intrusion from the south occurred, then one or more sites should be present that (1) were year-round settlements, (2) contained typical Mississippian house forms and material culture configurations, and (3) were organized around a central plaza and, possibly, platform mounds. This pattern should differ markedly from that of sites affiliated with local complexes, such as Oneota and Late Woodland, which we assume (1) were seasonally occupied, (2) contained local house forms and material culture configurations, and (3) lacked associations with either central plazas or platform mounds.

A brief discussion of internal site patterning and content is included in the following sections. Here we will consider two general types of sites (mound and habitation) that have been provisionally defined for the area and the association of Oneota and Silvernale sites with local landforms (Dobbs 1985a:51-61).

Five different types of mound groups are present in the region. These are: (1) mound groups containing many (>50) mounds that are principally or exclusively conical and/or linear in form; (2) smaller mound groups (<50) containing linear, conical, and effigy mounds; (3) small (<10) groups containing only conical mounds; (4) specialized groups containing mounds and/or other features like rock cairns; (5) sites containing earthen embankments and/or fortifications. Some of these groups undoubtedly contain earthworks constructed during different time periods and by members of different archaeological cultures. Nonetheless, we suggest that Oneota and/or Mississippian people were involved in the construction of most of these mounds, for shell-tempered sherds with Oneota and/or Mississippian decorative styles were in the fill or with burials in the few that have been excavated (Maxwell 1950; Johnson et al. 1969; Gibbon 1979, 1991). Two platform mounds are also present, a flat-topped conical mound on Prairie Island and a rectangular platform mound in a group of mounds (21GD52) between the Bryan and Silvernale sites (Figure 13.1; Winchell 1911:153). The flat-topped pyramidal mound was 4 feet high and 40 by 60 feet on a side when surveyed by T. H. Lewis in the mid-1880s. It now has been largely destroyed by cultivation.

Five types of habitation site have also been defined (Figure 13.1): (1) large villages including Bryan (21GD4), Silvernale (21GD3), Adams (47PI12), and Mero (47PI02); (2) smaller villages including the Energy Park site (21GD158), the Double site (47PI81), Bartron (21GD2), and possibly the Belle Creek site (21GD72); (3) small outlying sites that may represent farmsteads or minor communities (e.g., 21GD96 and 21GD109); (4) small special-function sites that contain few formal tools but relatively large numbers of cores and flakes (e.g., 21GD91 and 21GD170 in Spring Creek Valley between the Bryan and Silvernale sites); (5) small special-function sites characterized by the absence of pottery and formal tools, the presence of a moderate to very low artifact density, and a high proportion of retouched or utilized flakes. Of the village sites, Adams and Bartron are Oneota, while the remainder are either exclusively Silvernale or at least dominated by Silvernale components. At present, site types 3 through 5 are lumped together as 'Oneota-Silvernale,' for diagnostic traits other than, for example, small 'undiagnostic' shell-tempered sherds have not been found. Future test excavations should define more clearly the cultural associations of many if not most of them.

The distribution of Oneota and Silvernale phase village sites across the landscape does not display a consistently different pattern. Bryan and Energy Park are situated on a well-drained glacial outwash terrace underlain by sands and gravels. Both overlook the Cannon River and are at least 100 feet above the floodplain. Both are also immediately adjacent to terrace margins with steep slopes. Mero is located in a similar setting overlooking the confluence of the Trimbelle and Mississippi rivers. Adams is also located on a well-drained glacial terrace, but it overlooks the back channel of the Mississippi, rather than one of its tributary streams. Moreover, the principal habitation area at Adams is located several hundred feet back from the margin of the terrace.

Silvernale and Bartron are in physiographic settings markedly different from Bryan, Adams, and Mero. Silvernale is on a bench between 20 and 25 feet above the Cannon River floodplain. The bench is composed of silt-loam and fine sandy loam sediments. Bartron is near the southern end of Prairie Island also at an elevation of about 20 feet above Sturgeon Lake and the backwater floodplain of the Mississippi.

Several conclusions can be drawn from these settings and provisional site types: (1) Oneota and/or Mississippian people were involved (somehow) in the construction of earthen burial mounds; (2) the presence of two platform mounds has been documented, but one is a conical mound and the other is not directly associated with a large habitation site (although it may be associated with the smaller Energy Park site); (3) Oneota and Silvernale village sites occur in both high terrace and lowland settings; (4) Silvernale and/or Oneota villages were associated with smaller special activity localities; (5) Oneota villages, although fewer in number than Silvernale villages, fall within the same general size categories established for Silvernale villages.

  Site Content and Patterning

In this review of the content and internal patterning of the Bryan, Silvernale, Bartron, Adams, and Energy Park village sites, only information bearing directly on the nature of the Middle Mississippian presence in the Red Wing area will be presented. More complete discussions of each of these sites can be found in Dobbs (1985b, 1986b, 1987) and Gibbon (1979).

  The Bryan Site (21GD4)

As indicated in our review of archaeological investigations in the area, the most extensive excavations at Bryan were conducted by Wilford in the 1950s (in 1951, 1954, 1955, 1957) and by Dobbs in the mid-1980s (in 1983 and 1984). These two samples are discussed separately below for several reasons. First, while Wilford's sample has been analyzed in detail, he did not apply fine-scale recovery techniques, and a portion of his sample is missing. Second, the processing and analysis of Dobb's sample, which contains a large amount of floated material, is not yet complete. Although the following review may seem overly detailed, it is only at this level of detail, we believe, that an assessment of Stoltman's four contact situations can be made in the Red Wing area.

Only two aspects of Wilford's Bryan assemblage will be discussed here: (1) the nature of the relationship of Oneota and Mississippian-like ceramics in the assemblage, and (2) other features of the site discovered at the time of Wilford's excavations that might have a bearing on the Cahokia area-Red Wing contact situation.

Several problems exist in using Wilford's ceramic sample for comparative purposes. First, many of the sherds and rims are missing (presumably traded for similar comparative collections); for example, 40% of all rim sherds were unavailable for Gibbon's 1979 study. Second, Wilford's classification system shifted during the 1950s, so (without the missing sherds) it remains impossible today to determine precisely what, for instance, 'rolled rim' meant in 1954 as compared to 1957. Still, the general characteristics of the sample are known and a large enough collection remains for some pit-to-pit comparisons.

Of the 13,818 sherds recovered from Bryan by Wilford, approximately 92% were shell-tempered and 8% grit-tempered. Wilford regarded nearly all of the grit-tempered sherds he recovered as Cambria rather than Woodland, an interpretation supported by the 1979 study. Wilford assigned the profiles of rims in his 1955 and 1957 samples to four basic types. For convenience, they will be called rolled, short-thick, short-thin, and high (Figure 13.2). He regarded the rolled rims as Middle Mississippian, the high as Oneota, and the short as transitional between the other two, for he assumed that an intrusive Middle Mississippian people had gradually evolved into the Oneota. Table 13.1 records the numbers of rims in each category according to various samples. If the 1955-1957 sample is taken as the least distorted, then rolled rims account for about 39% of the sample, short rims 41% and high rims 10%. In the earlier and larger 1951-1954 sample, however, 28% of the rims were high. One can conclude (1) that the proportions of high and rolled rims vary across the site, and (2) that rim profiles usually not associated with an Oneota assemblage (all but high rims) dominate (72-90%) the Bryan ceramic assemblage.

Table 13.1. Numbers of rims in profile categories from Bryan in Wilford's sample.

1979 Study
Rolled 212 48% 65 39% 94 30%
Short-Thick 0 0% 12 7% 66 21%
Short-Thin 59 28% 56 34% 13 4%
High 123 28% 17 10% 126 40%
Misc. 46 11% 16 10% 17 5%
  440 100% 166 100% 316 100%

(* Since Wilford's profile categories were not defined until his analysis of the 1955-57 sample, it remains unclear whet 'rolled' rim means in this column; it seems that 'rolled' end 'short-thick' rims were combined.)

Although these are informative statistics, they may well be statistics for a fabricated universe, that is, a universe formed by the analyst by combining several temporally and culturally distinct ceramic assemblages. Attempts to isolate distinct components at Bryan using Wilford's ceramic assemblage have not, however, been successful. Analyses by Wilford and by Stortroen (1957), who worked with the 1954 sample, can be summarized as follows: (1) grit-tempered sherds (Cambria ware), while always a small minority, are more common proportionately in lower levels than in upper levels; (2) in the site area excavated in 1955 and 1957, rolled rims are more common in lower levels and high rims more frequent in level 1, while short rims are fairly equally distributed among levels (Stortroen [1957:94], however, could find "no significant stratigraphic differences ... among either the major pottery types or among the various types of artifacts" in his analysis of the 1954 material); (3) Oneota traits are most commonly found in the western part of the site; (4) in general the results of the analyses of artifact and feature distributions within the site have been inconclusive in isolating separate components or in identifying significant trends in distribution other than those mentioned above.

Gibbon's 1979 study found some support for each of these four conclusions, although the small numbers of sherds associated with the first two indicate that these trends may lack significance. For example, in the 1955-1957 sample 41 grit-tempered sherds (11.2% of all sherds in the level) were in level 2 and 7 sherds (6.7%) in level 1; in unit B of the 1954 excavation, a unit containing a fairly high proportion of grit-tempered sherds, 55 grit-tempered sherds (55.1%) were in level 2 and 20 (51.2%) in level 1. And, in one sample studied by Wilford, 13 rolled rims, 9 short rims, and 2 high rims were in level 2 and 1 rolled rim, 5 short rims, and 11 high rims in level 1. Since Wilford's excavations usually began after the midden had been stripped by gravel removal operations and pits exposed, the sample of sherds outside pits was small and is, therefore, difficult to interpret.

Stronger support is available for conclusions (3) and (4). Excavation units in the western part of the Bryan site do seem to have a greater proportion of 'Oneota' traits than units in other parts of the site. For instance, unnotched triangular projectile points, high rims, and punctate decoration on bodysherds all demonstrate a higher incidence of occurrence in the western, and especially the southwestern corner, of the area of the site excavated by Wilford (Gibbon 1979:59). Nonetheless, other artifact distribution and association studies have failed to support the existence of more than one clearly defined component (but see the discussion of Dobb's excavation at Bryan below). A Q-type factor analysis of material within 98 pits and excavation units revealed a wide horizontal dispersion of in general only loosely related units, for example, rather than clusters of units tightly grouped together by similar artifact and debris content. An R-type factor analysis of the same material also failed to isolate distinctive tool kits or associations of materials.

Ceramic studies also support this conclusion. Table 13.2 records the numbers of storage/refuse pits in Wilford's assemblages associated with particular rim profile categories. High and rolled rims occur together in approximately 32% of the pits. It is also apparent that the greater the number of rims in a pit, the more likely rims of all three categories (high, rolled, short) will be associated together. Even more significant is the association of rim profiles and shoulder design elements on all available vessels in Wilford's sample. Oneota chevrons, Mississippian scrolls, and plain shoulders are associated with all four of Wilford's rim profile categories (Table 13.3; Figure 13.3). When rims with only small fragments of shoulder attached are considered (Table 13.4), the percentages of rims in all four categories with shoulder fragments decorated with straight lines (Oneota?), curved lines (Mississippian?), or both straight and curved lines seem about the same. Although these are very rough measures of trait associations, they support the general conclusion that Oneota-like and Mississippian-like traits occur together in many instances rather than being consistently separated in Wilford's Bryan ceramic assemblage.

Table 13.2. Rim profile associations in pits in Wilford's Bryan sample.

Rolled Only 5 9%
Short Only 1 22%
High Only 7 12%
Rolled and Short 15 26%
Rolled and High 4 7%
Short and High 11 19%
Rolled, Short, and High 14 25%

(The sample used here includes only those pits containing two or more rims available for examination in the 1970s. 'Short' here refers to both short-thin and short-thick rims.)

Other artifacts and structures that might be Middle Mississippian-related discovered by Wilford and others at Bryan before the IMA excavations can be quickly summarized. Two small copper 'Southern Cult' mace-like batons, a silver-colored 'pulley' ear spool, a Thunder Bird shoulder design motif on a high rim ceramic vessel, and the central axis of a shell columella are in private collections and lack other than a general site provenience. It is perhaps worth noting that a few undecorated fragments of catlinite from the site are also in private collections. A crude face with what Wilford thought were feline features was carved on a small piece of sandstone found in pit 72 during the 1954 excavations. This piece of sculpture was associated with both rolled rim and short rim vessels. Of the 83 triangular projectile points found by Wilford, 61 are unnotched and 22 have a single set of side notches. These latter points could as easily be related to the Plains side-notched point complexes as to a Mississippian presence.

Although the semisubterranean (probably posthole) houses excavated by Wilford are too general in structure to attribute to one cultural source (Mississippian, for example), their ceramic associations are very informative. A rectangular house (pit 70) 7.5 by 6.7 feet in outline with a floor about 1.6 feet below the surface of the C horizon was associated with rolled rim and short rim vessels and Cambria ware. A circular house (units F and G) was 8.5 feet in diameter with a floor about 2.2 feet below the surface of the sod. This house was associated with 6 high rims, 1 short rim, and a scroll design on a bodysherd. All three high rim vessels (the other three rims were fragments) have atypical Oneota shoulder decoration, such as external nodes. A human skull on (or in) the floor of this house was considered a 'trophy skull' by Wilford; it is probably this skull that Glenn (1974) identified as Muskogid

Table 13.3. Cross-Tabulations of rim profile and shoulder design in Wilford's Bryan sample.

  High Rolled Short-Thin Short-Thick
Oneota Chevron 8 4 3 1
Oneota Misc. 4 3 2 0
Miss. Scrolls 4 4 2 2
Miss. Misc. 2 1 0 1
Plain 1 1 2 2

Available for Study in the 1970s

Table 13.4. Cross-tabulations of rim profile and shoulder fragment design in Wilford's Bryan sample.

  High Rolled Short-Thin Short-Thick
Straight Line 15 19 14 14
Curved Line 6 13 6 4
Straight and Curved Line 8 9 8 4

Available for Study in the 1970s

(i.e., as similar to skeletal populations associated with core Mississippian sites to the south). Both houses had apparently burned with walls and ceiling falling and smothering the blaze.

Still other features of Bryan known from Wilford's excavations that might have a bearing on the nature of the Cahokia area-Red Wing contact situation can also be quickly summarized. (1) Although faunal and floral food debris was not saved, a number of crude measures based on percentages of artifact classes and numbers of pits suggest that the inhabitants of Bryan relied upon plant foods (presumably maize) to a greater extent than the inhabitants of a number of Oneota sites (Bartron, Sheffield, Bornick, Walker-Hooper) (Gibbon 1979). (2) Radiocarbon dates indicate the site could have been occupied for several hundred years (Table 13.5). (3) The chipped stone material seems local to the Upper Mississippi River Valley (a fine gray chert, oolitic flint, jasper, quartzite, agate). (4) Many characteristic Middle Mississippian traits were not found during Wilford's excavations. These include wall-trench structures, tri-notched triangular projectile points, Mississippian hoes, spades, and knives, discoidals, pottery trowels and pans, water bottles, beakers, and plates. (5) The artifact assemblage is characterized by chipped stone end scrapers and by an extensive worked bone-antler-tooth complex that seems more typical of sites to the west than of Cahokia-area sites. This latter complex includes deer third phalange projectile points, fishhooks, bison scapula, hoes and picks, elk antler picks, bone and antler punches, beaver tooth incisors, bone and antler awls of a variety of types, needles, battens, shuttles, deer jar sickles, antler tool handles, spatulas, antler gaming counters, tubes, bird bone pins, armless or pendants, perforated deer phalanges (for the pin-and-cup game?), whistles, and fish teeth beads.

The IMA 1983-1984 excavations at Bryan opened seventy 2 x 2 meter units, examined 557 features, discovered the remains of several structures and two sides of a log palisade, and recovered tens of thousands of pieces of cultural debris using water-screening and flotation methods (Figure 13.4). Although an initial report has been prepared on the project (Dobbs 1987, 3 vols.), initial processing and sorting of the material is only now being completed. The following observations must, therefore, be regarded as preliminary.

In general the ceramic assemblage is broadly consistent with earlier descriptions of ceramics from the site, that is, there is considerable variation in vessel and rim form, decorative motif, and vessel size. Both classic, rolled rim ceramics of the Silvernale phase and ceramics associated with the Oneota were recovered (Figures 13.5 and 13.6). It is of interest to note that the frequency of ceramics and other artifacts clearly referable to 'classic' Middle Mississippian forms is quite low. Only one vessel that might fall within the range of variation of Ramey Incised was found. However, numerous variations on the rolled rim theme were observed and several of these vessels appeared to have been either burnished or fired in a special fashion. There is considerable variability in the size, form, and decoration of Oneota ceramics in the sample. Straight-rimmed vessels with typical chevron motifs are present. However, other vessels are decorated with a continuous design of wavy trailed lines or modifications of the 'guilloche' motif commonly associated with the Silvernale phase. Most vessels in the sample appear, however, to be low rim Silvernale varieties.

Five radiocarbon determinations were obtained from the 1983-1984 assemblage (Table 13.5; Dobbs 1985b:58; also see Dobbs 1982). These age determinations bracket the period from A.D. 1050-1350 and are consistent with other interpretations of the chronology of the Red Wing area (Gibbon 1979; Shane 1981).

Table 13.5. Radiocarbon dates from Red Wing area archaeological sites.
Uncalibrated Dates
Calibrated Dates
Site BP s AD        Dates AD Sample No.

Bryan 825



Beta 8840
Beta 8841
Beta 8842

Beta 8844
Silvernale 740
Bartron 815
Mero 910

(Dates corrected using the calibration table published in Klein et al., 1982.)

Samples dated from features 109 and 202 were in association with Silvernale phase ceramics and with pottery that appears to have its origins to the west (Cambria and/or Mill Creek?) (Figures 13.7 and 13.8).

During the course of Wilford's excavations, he observed a 0.5 foot high ridge that appeared to run the entire length of the site. He placed two excavation squares over this ridge to evaluate the possibility that it represented a stockade line. Although posts were found in one of the excavation squares, they did not appear to continue into the other. As a result, he concluded that the ridge and postmolds were the product of modern activities. Elden Johnson, who was visiting the site at the time, thought, however, that the posts did indeed represent a palisade (E. Johnson, personal communication; Gibbon 1979:11). The presence of a palisade at the site remained, then, unresolved.

The remains of the western palisade wall and its southwestern corner were discovered in May, 1983. It was possible to trace this segment of the palisade for almost forty meters up to the edge of the site destroyed in the 1930s (Figures 13.9 and 13.10). In May 1984, the northwestern edge of the palisade was discovered as well (Figure 13.11). At present, it is estimated that the palisade surrounded an area of approximately 10 acres. This enclosure is quite large when compared to similar structures in the Upper Mississippi Valley (e.g., the Valley View site near La Crosse - see Stevenson 1985). The Bryan palisade was composed of upright posts with an estimated height of between 7 and 9 feet. The postmolds comprising the wall were consistently between 18 and 22 cm. in diameter and spaced at 60 cm. intervals. Small cobbles, in particular chunks of dolomite from the nearby bluffs, were commonly used as chinking for the posts. However, no evidence of a daub covering or interwoven material within the wall was found during the excavation.

Four structures, including two houses, were discovered. Two of these are incomplete and their form is still not fully understood. Structure 4 appears to have been associated with the northern wall of the palisade and consists of a double line of posts bordering the palisade wall to the north (Figure 13.11). Structure 1 is a house that consists of a square pattern of postmolds surrounding an essentially sterile area devoid of features (Figure 13.11). The house area, however, is surrounded by a circle of refuse pits. Structure 3 appears to be a complex circular dwelling or other structural type that was rebuilt on several different occasions (Figure 13.11).

The importance of maize and horticulture at Bryan was reinforced by the 1983-1984 excavations. Numerous bell-shaped pits, bison scapula hoes, deer mandible 'sickles,' and other maize-processing tools were recovered. A unique type of feature termed 'corn concentrations' (Dobbs 1987:49) was also identified during these excavations. These features contain charcoal and large numbers of corn kernels and cobs; ash deposits and artifacts are rarely found in them. In general, they are circular in horizontal plan with a diameter of less than 0.4 meters and rounded in vertical cross-section with a depth of less than 0.4 meters. Although their function remains unknown, one hypothesis is that they are the bases of smudge pits used for hide smoking (Binford 1967).

More than 5 liters of carbonized maize cobs and kernels were recovered. A preliminary analysis of some of this maize by Robert McK. Bird indicates that there are at least four distinct categories of maize in the sample. The best defined of these types has between 8 and 12 rows with cupule widths ranging from 6.4 to 8.2 mm. McK. Bird regarded some of this maize as "possibly Northern Flints" (see Attachment E, Dobbs 1987:458).

The higher concentration of Oneota traits in the western portion of the site noticed by Wilford is also evident in the artifacts and features discovered in 1983-1984. Dobbs feels that there is evidence for an Oneota component in the northwestern portion of the site that is spatially and temporally distinct from the Silvernale phase component. The primary area covered by the Oneota component appears to be on the edge of the terrace overlooking the Cannon River immediately adjacent to and outside the palisade, while the Silvernale occupation appears to be set back from the terrace edge by approximately 20 meters. This hypothesis is based on the following field observations: (1) Silvernale phase ceramics seem to occur only within or immediately adjacent to the area delineated by the palisade; (2) Oneota ceramics occur within the palisade area, but are most common outside the palisaded portion of the site; (3) ground stone tools, particularly mullers, are common outside the palisaded portion of the site but rarely found within this area; (4) the types of features outside the palisade area are distinctly different from those within the palisade.

  The Silvernale Site (21GD3)

Wilford conducted small-scale excavations at Silvernale in 1947 and 1950. Since the recovered sample of artifacts was small, only a few of its characteristics are summarized here. Only about 53% of Wilford's original ceramic sample is presently available for study. Of 53 rim sherds without attached shoulders, 11 have rolled rims, 20 short rims, and 22 high rims. Of 212 small decorated shoulder sherds, 160 have straight-line decoration (including 3 definite chevrons), 27 curved lines (with 2 definite scrolls), 17 straight lines and punctates, 3 curved lines and punctates, 3 curved and straight lines, and 2 with punctates only. Seven additional large shoulder sections are decorated with chevron designs. Of the 12 vessels in the sample, 6 have rolled rims, 2 short rims, and 4 high rims. Two of the high rim vessels have typical Oneota shoulder design elements; one is plain, and the other has straight lines on a fragment of shoulder. One of the short rims has a scroll design on the shoulder, and the other has curved lines on a shoulder fragment. Three of the rolled rims have straight lines on shoulder fragments and the other three have curved line decoration on the shoulder (with one shoulder large enough to display a typical Middle Mississippian design motif). The only vessel shape present is the jar. Of the 2,793 sherds recovered from Silvernale by Wilford, 51 are grit-tempered. Wilford classified 36 of these sherds as Cambria and 15 as Woodland. It is difficult to draw many sound conclusions from this sample and the information provided above. However, we can tentatively conclude that the Silvernale ceramic sample is in general similar to that of Wilford's Bryan sample.

Other relevant information from Silvernale can be as briefly summarized. (1) Of 35 triangular projectile points recovered by Wilford, only 6 have side notches. One of the latter points also has a shallow basal notch. (2) A small shell-tempered human head modeled in clay is in a private collection and lacks specific provenience. The head is about 1 3/4 inches in diameter and has a round hole at the base (presumably for attachment). The eyes are formed from relatively large pieces of mussel shell, while other features are indicated by incisions. (3) Although less varied (presumably due to sample size), the bone-antler-tooth complex observed at Bryan is also present at Silvernale. (4) The chipped stone material seems similar to that at Bryan. (5) The characteristic Mississippian traits absent at Bryan are also absent at Silvernale, with the exception of the single tri-notched projectile point. (6) In general, the assemblage at Silvernale seems sufficiently similar to that described for Bryan to consider both occupations as approximately contemporaneous. This conclusion seems supported by radiocarbon determinations for the site (Table 13.5; Dobbs 1982:103).

Wilford excavated 270 square feet of the site in 1947 and 200 square feet west of the 1947 excavations in 1950. He also excavated two conical mounds (nos. 36 and 45) in 1947. With this additional background, the following conclusions concerning spatial and stratigraphic trends at Silvernale can be drawn from the meager amount of available information: (1) there is no firm evidence to demonstrate which people (possibly represented by Cambria, Woodland, Silvernale, and Oneota traits) were the first inhabitants of the village area; (2) Cambria and Woodland traits are most frequent in the 1947 excavation area; (3) Cambria sherds seem to decrease in proportion from lower to upper levels in the 1947 site area; (4) the use of curved lines and punctate decoration decreases in popularity from lower to upper levels in 1950 units, although curved line decoration becomes more common in upper levels of 1947 units; (5) a vertical trend from rolled rims to high flared rims is apparent in the 1947 units; (6) a greater proportion of Oneota ceramic traits are present in 1950 units, as seen, for example, in the percentage of high flared rims in the sample (80%) as compared to the 1947 sample (40.4%); (7) greater leaching of shell tempering from ceramics in the 1947 sample could indicate that the 1950 area is more recent; (8) some conical mounds of the Silvernale group were probably built by Cambria, Silvernale (Mississippian), or Oneota peoples.

  The Bartron Site (21GD2)

Portions of the Bartron site were excavated by Wilford in 1948 and by Elden Johnson in 1968 and 1969 (Gibbon 1979). Unlike Bryan and Silvernale, Bartron is a Blue-Earth related Oneota village site containing few traits that could be Middle Mississippian-related. The traits include: (1) a few scroll motifs (2 vessels and 4 bodysherds in a sample of 679 vessels and decorated bodysherds); (2) one side-notched and one tri-notched triangular projectile point in a sample of 85 points (70 unnotched triangular, 2 stemmed, 4 corner-notched, and 9 side-notched); (3) the corner of a possible wall-trench structure (unusual in that the wall is almost a meter thick and the corner a real squared corner rather than the juncture of two walls that do not quite meet; whether this structure is Mississippian-related or even prehistoric remains unclear); (4) a few angular shoulders on ceramic vessels. Except for the side-notched triangular point, one jar with an angular shoulder, and the possible walltrench structure, these Mississippian traits (the trinotched point, scroll motifs, several angular jar shoulders) were concentrated in the area of a nearly square (9 x 9.5 meters) posthole house with a black 'depressed' floor and an Oneota artifact assemblage. One or possibly two additional houses with depressed floors were also found at the site; the most extensively excavated was rectangular (4 x 5.5 meters) and had a black 'greasy' floor beginning 45 cm. below the soil surface. It is also pertinent to note that both ceramic vessels with scroll motifs had high 'Oneota' rims.

Other bits of information about Bartron that could be relevant to the central problem of this volume are: (1) two uncalibrated radiocarbon determinations for the site are A.D. 1060+55 (WIS-434) and A.D. 1100+55 (WIS-423) (Table 13.5); (2) of 221 vessels and rim fragments examined in Gibbon's 1979 study, only 3 are grit-tempered (all are non-Woodland and could be either Oneota or Cambria); (3) of 648 decorated bodysherds examined in the 1979 study, 11 are grittempered and non-Woodland (3 have curved line decoration, 2 punctate decoration, 1 straight line decoration, and 5 large pieces have straight line 'Oneota' designs); (4) of 221 rim profiles drawn for the 1979 study, 3 represent one variety of short-thin rim and the remainder are high 'Oneota' profiles (rolled and pseudo-rolled or short-thick rims are absent); (5) of 4,455 sherds in Wilford's original 1948 ceramic sample, only 8 (0.2%) were grit-tempered, and only one of these was non-Woodland (Oneota or Cambria); (6) although maize horticulture was practiced, subsistence seems to have been based on hunting to a greater extent than at Bryan or at Oneota sites such as Walker-Hooper and Bornick (Gibbon 1979); (7) a bone-antler-tooth complex similar to that at Bryan and Silvernale is present at Bartron; (8) the cult items (thunderbird motifs, copper batons, figurines) at Bryan have not been found at Bartron; (9) Bartron was probably palisaded (Gibbon 1979); (10) a single circular, flat-topped mound was described by T. H. Lewis in a group of 23 mounds just south of Bartron on the same island (two additional flat-topped circular mounds were also located by Lewis in western Hennepin County); (11) Bartron is no more than 7 to 10 acres in extent (Bryan was probably 15 to 20 acres in extent); (12) excavations by Elden Johnson (Johnson et al. 1969) at the Birch Lake Mound group near Bartron recovered Mississippian-Oneota artifacts in the fill of a Woodland mound (leading Johnson to conclude "...that the Birch Lake mound group was constructed by a Woodland group in contact with an intruding Mississippian population and perhaps trading with them").

  The Adams Site (47PI12)

Adams is a large Oneota village site located on the east side of the Mississippi River in Pierce County, Wisconsin. As mentioned earlier, it is situated on me edge of an extensive post-glacial terrace overlooking a back channel of the Mississippi River. Surface investigations by Dobbs (1986a) in 1984 indicated that there were discrete concentrations of cultural debris at the site, and that these concentrations had distinctly different debris profiles. Limited excavations were conducted by the IMA in 1985. Although analysis of the recovered material is also still in progress, several observations can be made.

First, Adams appears to be a single component Oneota site. The only Middle Mississippian traits found are a number of chunky stones (more than 10). Several copper items were also recovered. Second, Adams appears to belong to the same archaeological culture as the Armstrong site in Trempealeau County, Wisconsin. This conclusion is based on an attribute analysis of the two ceramic assemblages which indicated no statistical difference between them. It is assumed that the two components date to the same approximate time period, that is, to ca. A.D. 1110-1150 (Hurley 1978). Third, there appears to be structural differences between Adams and the Bryan and Silvernale sites. Rather than the deep storage pits characteristic of those sites, the only features found at Adams are the bases of what appear to be trash heaps or middens.

Finally, the horizontal distribution of 'concentrations' at Adams is well-defined and discrete, with the space in between low in artifact density. Based on this information, the homogeneity of the artifactual assemblage, and the similarity of the ceramic assemblage with that of Armstrong, it is possible that the site represents a large, single-component village occupied for a brief period of time in the twelfth century.

  The Energy Park Site (21GD158)

The Energy Park site was discovered during the course of an IMA archaeological survey of the City of Red Wing in 1984. Like all other Silvernale phase villages in this region, the habitation portion is surrounded by a mound group (21GD52), although this particular mound group contains the flat-topped pyramidal mound mentioned previously (Figure 13.1). The presence of a village site in probable association with this Middle Mississippian architectural feature is particularly intriguing. Moreover, unlike all other known Silvernale phase sites in the region, the village portion of the site has not been destroyed by gravel mining or other severely disruptive activities. Energy Park has the potential, then, to provide answers about the nature of the Middle Mississippian presence in the Red Wing area that are otherwise unavailable.

Limited fieldwork was conducted at the site during October 1986, and during the summers of 1987 and 1988. The principal goal of the investigations was to examine a Silvernale phase site as a functioning community and to move beyond purely artifact-based studies. Two controlled surface collections of artifactual debris from the entire site have been completed (1986 and 1988), and roughly 60% of the site has been examined using soil resistivity. Since laboratory analysis of materials recovered during the surveys is still in progress, the discussion here summarizes Dobb's preliminary interpretations of these data.

The controlled surface collections indicate that there is a well-defined internal plan at the site. A contour map of the distribution of total numbers of artifacts obtained in 1986 (Figure 13.12) shows a major concentration on the western edge of the site and a somewhat less dense concentration on the eastern edge. These artifact scatters were composed mostly of debitage and stone tools, with only a few small pieces of pottery. Smaller debris scatters surround the center of the site. These concentrations contain far more pottery than do those along the eastern and western edges, and are tentatively interpreted as domestic activity areas.

The drought of 1988 produced a series of 'crop marks' that were visible both from the air and on the ground. Aerial photographs taken in July clearly show 'patches' of darker vegetation similar in location to the debris concentrations identified during the 1986 controlled surface collection. Small patches about 5 meters in diameter were grouped in a circle roughly 40 meters in diameter around the central portion of the site. It is possible that these discolorations in vegetation represent structures or refuse pits near structures, in which case there may have been an open area in the center of the village.

The debris profile of the various concentrations defined during the controlled surface collections are quite different. Excavations conducted within the limits of three of them confirmed these differences both in the types of artifacts recovered and in the nature of subsurface deposits.

A series of deep trash pits was discovered in a 1987 excavation block located along the northeastern edge of the site. These pits contained characteristic village refuse, and freshwater mussel shells, which probably indicates that they were filled during the late spring or early summer. In 1988 an excavation block was placed in the area of high artifact density in the western portion of the site. Although the material recovered replicated the debris profile obtained from the controlled surface collection, the subsurface density of features was markedly lower than in the northeastern block. Only one deep pit feature, containing a few pieces of debitage and pottery, was found. The remaining features were mostly shallow, basin-shaped pits containing few artifacts and two discolored areas apparently subjected to high heat. The two latter features may represent hearths.

In general the artifactual assemblage at the Energy Park site is typical of other Silvernale phase sites in the region. The ceramic assemblage is composed of Silvernale phase-like, Oneota, and grit-tempered (only two pieces) sherds (Figures 13.13 and 13.14). Groundstone implements are relatively rare, while items like bison scapula hoes, ferruginous sandstone abraders, triangular projectile points, snub-nosed scrapers, and the like are common. The only Middle Mississippian artifact found to date is a complete notched triangular point made of a non-local raw material of unknown origin. It has five notches, one large and one small notch on each side and a basal notch (Figure 13.15).

Cubes of galena are relatively common, with at least five recovered from processed samples thus far. Galena is not a particularly common material at sites in the Red Wing area, and its relative frequency at Energy Park is intriguing.

The limited information available so far for the site makes interpretation difficult at this time. However, two hypotheses are offered here by Dobbs for consideration. First, it is hypothesized that Energy Park represents a 'central place' for Silvernale phase occupants of the Red Wing area. Its location almost halfway between Bryan and Silvernale, the presence beside it of the flat-topped pyramidal mound, and the Cahokia point and galena lend support to this hypothesis. A corollary of this hypothesis is that the village was occupied principally by elite individuals. Second, it is hypothesized that the village was relatively short-lived. This hypothesis is supported by the site's low artifact density when compared to other Silvernale phase sites in the area, the relatively clear patterning visible from the controlled surface collection, and the near absence of subsurface feature-overlap.

  An Interpretation of the Mississippian Presence in the Red Wing Area

Although the authors of this paper disagree on details of the Mississippian presence in the Red Wing area, they do agree on the broad outlines of this presence. This broad outline will be sketched first. A few of its main contentions will then be defended or briefly elaborated.

Our understanding of the Mississippian presence in the Red Wing area can be summarized in four claims. First, the Red Wing area was inhabited by Oneota peoples before the appearance of the Mississippian-related Silvernale cultural complex. This pre-Silvernale Oneota occupation began ca. A.D. 1000 and is represented by Bartron, possibly the Adams and Double sites, and possibly the Oneota component in the northwest corner of Bryan. Second, the Silvernale cultural complex emerged in the late eleventh or in the twelfth century as an amalgam of Oneota and Mississippian traits. Dobbs would bracket the presence of this complex in the Red Wing area between ca. A.D. 1175 and A.D. 1300, while Gibbon prefers a short occupation period beginning ca. A.D. 1100. Within this time span, changes occurred in the Silvernale settlement-subsistence system and in its artifactual assemblage, but the cultural complex always differed in certain important respects from both 'pure' Cahokia-centered and Oneota complexes. Third, the Silvernale cultural complex functioned as a prairie-oriented northern node in a Mississippian-centered extraction and magico-religious network (e.g., Gibbon 1974). Fourth, the complex ceased to exist sometime in the thirteenth century, if not earlier, probably in response to the demise of Cahokia as a major center and the collapse of its far flung economic-religious network. The Red Wing area was abandoned, apparently experiencing little more than transient occupation until the arrival of the Santee Dakota in the seventeenth century. Although Oneota peoples had occupied the Blue Earth Valley before these events, the focus of Oneota activity in the state shifted to this south-central Minnesota river valley in the thirteenth or early fourteenth century.

Stoltman (1986:29-32) has argued that Silvernale, Bryan, and Diamond Bluff represent a pre-Oneota complex in the Red Wing locality, one reflecting cultural interaction between the Cahokia cultural province and local Late Woodland peoples. In his view, "the first fully Oneota assemblages post-date A.D. 1075 or 1100," with the real prominence of Oneota culture occurring only after the waning of Cahokia influence in the region after ca. A.D. 1200. We and others are taken to task for adopting the view "that Oneota origins were not in any way correlated with the spread of Cahokia influences into the Upper Mississippi Valley during the Lohman/Stirling phases," that is, for not adopting the view that Oneota origins have their roots in the movements of peoples and/or ideas out of "the great Middle Mississippi center of Cahokia in the American Bottom" (ibid.).

A careful reading of the literature should convince the reader that the origins of Oneota culture remain an unresolved problem (e.g., Gibbon 1972, 1982; Dobbs 1982; Stoltman 1983:230-242; Benn 1984). There is general agreement, however, that Oneota emergence was largely an in-situ process involving Late Woodland peoples. Debate focuses on the dynamics of this process and (especially) on the role played by the Cahokia cultural system in this transformation.

Our position can be quickly summarized. We believe that regarding the Cahokia cultural system as the sole source of the transformation throughout the northern periphery fails to distinguish between two widespread and equally important transformations. These transformations occurred in the northern tier of the eastern United States and in adjacent portions of the Plains and Canada during the A.D. 800-1200 interval. The first involved the emergence of what might loosely be called 'horticultural lifeways,' and the second a process of 'mississippianization.' We regard the emergence of Oneota culture as a phenomenon of the first transformation, just as we regard Mill Creek, Great Oasis, Fort Ancient, the Iroquoian cultures, and the Cahokia cultural system itself, for example, as products of this transformation. The second transformation, of which the Cahokia cultural system was a florescence, was centered within the Upper Mississippi Valley. By failing to pay sufficient attention to the broader context out of which the Cahokia cultural system itself emerged, one conflates, in our opinion, the process of 'mississippianization' and the geographically more extensive and in general earlier transformation to a horticultural lifeway. Each requires, again in our opinion, a separate if somewhat intertwined explanation. As a consequence of this conflation, one is unable to ask, 'What was the nature of the interaction between Cahokia-related populations and the Oneota (and the Mill Creek and Fort Ancient people, and so on) '? Our position- that early Oneota developed coevally with and interacted with Mississippian cultures in the Upper Mississippi Valley- remains a working-hypothesis, but a hypothesis, nonetheless, that does justice to our database by not requiring us to reject all Oneota radiocarbon dates before A.D. 1075 or 1100 (Stoltman 1986:33). We do agree, however, that Oneota culture surged southward after A.D. 1200 into southwestern Wisconsin (e.g., the La Crosse area), Iowa, and Illinois. We assume that it is the late entry of Oneota people in these southern areas, where Stoltman and others who maintain that Oneota emerged as a result of Mississippian (Cahokia) contact work, that accounts in part for their position.

We should add that the evidence for a vigorous Late Woodland presence in the Red Wing area remains meager at the present time, perhaps because of the more mobile lifeway of Late Woodland peoples in the region. As we demonstrated earlier, Late Woodland ceramics are either absent or rare at Bryan, Silvernale, Bartron, Adams, and Energy Park. Harrison's (1981) survey for the Minnesota Historical Society in 1978 discovered only a light scatter of Late Woodland sites, a phenomenon also documented by Dobb's (1985a) more recent surveys. The only examples of a Late Woodland presence that possibly supports Stoltman's model of cultural interaction between the Cahokia cultural province and local Late Woodland peoples are the content of several burial mounds (Maxwell 1950; Johnson et al. 1969), but the non-Woodland portions of these mound inclusions do not seem to represent 'pure' Cahokia-derived assemblages. The publication in detail of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's early 1970s excavations at the Mero site and the IMA's planned 1991 excavations at the site might help resolve this problem. Since the focus of this paper is the nature of the Mississippian presence in the Red Wing area, we will forego comment on the relationship between Oneota and Late Woodland cultures in the area.

We believe that the brief review of the Silvernale phase artifact assemblage provided in the last section is sufficient to demonstrate that it differs from Cahokia and Oneota assemblages, that it is in fact an amalgam of the two. This is especially apparent in the ceramic assemblage, which is an unusual blend of Oneota and Cahokia sphere inspired stylistic traits. Although the evidence remains tenuous, we believe it is sufficient to argue that this amalgam resulted from the transformation of a resident Oneota population through Mississippian contact.

We see the presence of a small amount of Middle Mississippian material and the flat-topped conical mound at Bartron, as well as the chunky stones at Adams, as possible indicators of contact with the Cahokia sphere. Contact was initiated and the transformation to the Silvernale cultural system completed sometime within the A.D. 1050-1200 interval. Although some Middle Mississippian peoples most likely participated in this transformation (some of the possibilities are reviewed below), we find no evidence, as yet, for a site-unit intrusion by a 'pure' Middle Mississippian group. Classic Powell Plain and Ramey Incised vessels, for example, are rare and scattered at both Bryan and Silvernale, and wall-trench structures, tri-notched points, Cahokia hoes, and a host of other items are either absent (which is usually the case) or even rarer than the vessels.

In addition we fail to see, as yet, any specific functional context for materials and traits derived from the Cahokia sphere; they appear jumbled in the midden and in pits with a range of other traits and materials. Still, the life-histories of Silvernale phase sites remain poorly known and, as a result, subject to varying interpretations. As mentioned, we disagree on the time span within which the Silvernale cultural complex dominated the Red Wing area. What we do see, however, is: (1) a few 'classic' Ramey Incised and Powell Plain vessels; (2) a predominant amount of locally made pottery emulating Middle Mississippian forms and decorations; (3) the presence of only a few Middle Mississippian stone artifacts (mainly chunky stones and tri-notched points); (4) some elements of a Mississippian settlement pattern and village organization; (5) an iconography (Southeast Ceremonial Complex) and platform mounds reflecting some aspects of Mississippian religious beliefs (though the associations of the iconography could be more diverse in the upper Midwest); (6) an array of Oneota traits, including ceramic traits, the bone-antler-tooth complex, and a high proportion of chipped stone scrapers.

Since a working-model of Cahokia-Red Wing interaction has been presented in some detail elsewhere (Gibbon 1974, 1979), only an overview of this model will be presented here. In brief the Silvernale phase has been interpreted as a prairie-oriented node in a Cahokia sphere economic-religious network. The purpose of this network was extraction of resources from peripheral areas. The Silvernale node articulated with Cambria peoples along the trench of the Minnesota River. These western peoples may have provided dried buffalo meat and other items for the network. They may also have acted as middlemen, connecting the Silvernale node with other Initial Middle Missouri Tradition peoples still farther to the west. We find the presence of Cambria ware, Plains side-notched points, and semi-subterranean house forms in major Silvernale phase sites, as well as the presence of both Middle Mississippian-inspired and Initial Middle Missouri Tradition ceramics at the Cambria site itself, as possible support for this model. The presence at some Cambria sites of unusual amounts of bison bone, and of extensive bone and scraper complexes at both Silvernale phase sites and Cambria, suggests that dried buffalo meat, as mentioned above, worked skins, and other items may have been entering the network from the north. This model has not, however, been adequately tested as yet by new field excavations. Elden Johnson's paper in this volume provides additional thoughts on the possible role that Cambria may have played within a Cahokia sphere extraction system.

  Cahokia-Inspired Contact Situations: An Evaluation

What conclusions can be drawn from these data and interpretations as regards Stoltman's four Cahokia-inspired contact situations? First, the only one of the four options that can be clearly rejected is a site-unit intrusion of Late Woodland emissaries. Second, a 'pure' Middle Mississippian intrusion into a non-Mississippian area also seems unlikely, if by this is meant a site-unit intrusion into a Late Woodland geographic area. Extensive surveys have failed to isolate anything at all that resembles an assemblage of this nature with the possible exception of some mound inclusions. Nonetheless, the possibility remains that a small and as yet undetected 'pure' Middle Mississippian component could be present at one or more sites. Dobb's surveys should resolve this issue within the next few years.

Having voiced this caution, it seems clear to us that the existing evidence best supports some version of one of the remaining contact situations, that is, "culture contact without permanent population displacement, probably involving trade" or "an intrusion of a Middle Mississippi population segment, perhaps an elite, into the Cahokia hinterland." Since, as stated, these options are not logically exclusive (there could, for instance, have been an amalgamation of an intrusive population segment and a hinterland group for purposes of trade that did not involve permanent population displacement), we will interpret the two options as implying that a Mississippian population segment was either present or not.

Evidence can be marshalled to support either of the latter options. The first option is supported by the presence of Cahokia sphere traits (small amounts of Ramey Incised and Powell Plain pottery, some trinotched points, the flat-topped pyramidal mound, the Mississippian flavor of the settlement-subsistence system) and the possible presence of a southern physical type at Bryan (Glenn 1974). The contact-for-trade-without-population-intrusion scenario is supported, on the other hand, by the absence of numerous other Cahokia sphere traits (wall-trench structures, Cahokia hoes, plates and a variety of other ceramic items, the Cahokia sphere lithic assemblage, and so on), the curious blend of ceramic stylistic traits, the continuity of regional Oneota bone-antler-tooth and lithic assemblages, and the presence of flat-topped conical mounds.

The contact situation we favor is a version of the first of these two options. According to this version, a local Oneota population was heavily influenced by the Cahokia cultural system; this influence included the movement into the Red Wing area of a Middle Mississippian population segment and an amalgamation of this segment with at least some portion of its resident Oneota population. There is no evidence, as yet, to support the contention that this segment was an elite or largely an elite. For instance, neither elite class Middle Mississippian mortuary structures nor other indicators of the presence of a socially stratified Middle Mississippian society have been found (but note Dobb's hypothesis that Energy Park may have been occupied by a Silvernale phase elite). One possibility worth exploring is that this segment was composed largely of women; this would help explain the strong Mississippian flavor of the ceramic assemblage. We find it difficult to believe that this assemblage could result from distant trading contacts alone. Whatever the answer, while the Silvernale system disappeared at about the same time as the demise of Cahokia, Oneota peoples continued to flourish in the Upper Mississippi River Valley.

Our interpretations constitute a rough-edged working model whose function is to direct research. It should be clear that we still lack a highly confirmed picture of what happened in the Red Wing area during the A.D. 900-1300 interval. The captious reader will have little difficulty in unraveling our model, for loose-ends abound. For instance, the nature of the Late Woodland occupation of the area remains largely unknown; the dynamics leading to the presence of Oneota peoples at Bartron, Adams, and other sites remain a matter of speculation; the internal histories of all sites remain largely opaque; it remains unclear whether some Oneota and Silvernale phase settlements were contemporaneous or not; although a model of Silvernale interaction within the region has been presented, it remains untested. The strong research program currently underway in the Red Wing Locality should continue to provide new data to resolve the differences between these competing models of the Middle Mississippian presence in the region.


Funding for the 1983-1984 Bryan Data Recovery Project was provided by the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Additional funds were provided by the Minnesota Historical Society. Funding for the investigations at the Energy Park Site were provided by The Red Wing Area Fund, The City of Red Wing and private patrons. Investigations at the Adams Site were funded by a survey planning grant from the National Park Service through the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. Funding for the City of Red Wing Survey was provided by the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources and the City of Red Wing. Additional funding and support for all of these projects was provided by the Institute for Minnesota Archaeology.

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1985 The Bryan Site: A Prehistoric Village in Southern Minnesota. Minnesota Archaeologist, 43: 37-48.

Wilford, Lloyd A.
1952 The Silvernale Mound and Village Site. Ms. on file, Department of Anthropology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

1955 A Revised Classification of the Prehistoric Cultures of Minnesota. American Antiquity 21:130-142.

1956 The Ralph Bryan Site (1951-1952). Ms. on file, Department of Anthropology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

1958 The Ralph Bryan Site (1955 and 1957). Ms. on file, Department of Anthropology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

1985 The Ralph Bryan Site, 1951-1952. Minnesota Archaeologist, 43:21-36.

n.d. The Bartron Site. Ms. on file, Department of Anthropology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

Winchell, N. H.
1911 The Aborigines of Minnesota. Minnesota Historical Society, St.Paul


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