Arrowheads featured in October's History at High Noon

Meghan Flynn
Garden City Telegram
Chad Myers, an archaeology consultant and avocationalist from Kalvesta, shows various arrowheads found in the High Plains and western Kansas during the Finney County Historical Museum's History at High Noon program Wednesday.

Arrowheads and other stone artifacts found in western Kansas and the high plains area were featured in the Finney County Historical Museum's October History at High Noon program on Wednesday. 

Chad Myers, an archaeology consultant and avocationalist out of Kalvesta, gave the presentation. 

A native of eastern Finney County, growing up on a farm near the ghost town of Ravanna, Myers got started finding arrowheads and other artifacts when he was young, along with his father and grandfather. 

Growing up Myers wanted to become an archaeologist, he went to school to do become one but stopped due to the cost. Now works with professional archaeologists as an avocationalist documenting sites and sending them information and helping do some excavations primarily in the High Plains area including Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas and Wyoming.

While still young, Myers met a couple archaeologists that came by to look at his family's property, which Myers didn't know at the time, but was one of the first archaeological sites recorded in western Kansas in 1872.

That's really old for this area, Myers said. Usually things can't be traced that far back in western Kansas.

Myers doesn't know what was found then, but since then he's found multiple artifacts on the property, as recently as a few weeks ago when he found the base of a Clovis Point. 

"The earliest people that lived here in this area were the Clovis Culture and they were around 13,500 years ago," he said. "There's been people living in Finney County (that long)."

Myers has found numerous Clovis artifacts on his property, he showed an entire frame of just Clovis Point artifacts.

"I actually had the state archaeologist out a few weeks ago and we went out together and looked at the site," he said. "His name is Bob Hoard from KU, and he was pretty shocked because their samples from western Kansas there's only like four Clovis Points recorded and I've helped record about five or six since then."

The site is now on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Another point found on the property is an Allen Point made out of smoky hill jasper, which comes from the Smoky Hill River in Scott and Gove Counties, Myers said. Quarries of the material can be found, the people were mining it out of there and using it across the plains to make stone tools. 

Nina Wellmaker of Lakin, left, talks with Chad Myers after his presentation on arrowheads and stone artifacts for the Finney County Historical Museum's History at High Noon program Wednesday.

"The Allen Culture dates back about 8,500 to 9,000 years ago," he said. "That's actually about the most common point type you'll find in Kansas." 

Back then there were no tribes, they were mostly small family groups of hunter gatherers that moved across the plains, Myers said. At some sites they've found artifacts from the Anderson, Allen and Cody cultures, showing they worked together. 

"This is just recently in the last 10 years we've been able to prove this, making giant hunts and communal kills together," he said. "What they had thought is it was used over and over and over by several different cultures each year to stack up, but what we found is they found one bison remains that had all three point types inside of it, so obviously they were hunting it together in a group effort."

Point types are determined by the flaking style on them, Myers said. Allen Points have oblique flakes that run across it, every point they made have flakes that traveled down on a linear pattern. It's called traverse flaking. 

"Usually a point type is named after the first place it's found," he said. "In this situation the archaeologist, or he's not really an archaeologist, by avocation archaeologist, wanted it to be named after himself, so that's why it's called an Allen Point, his last name is Allen."

The people, not just the Allen Culture, Clovis Culture, etc., all liked to make their points look pretty, Myers said. They would go hundreds of miles to get the materials. 

"Why they wanted to do that is kind of just speculation really, because we don't know, but the point is they wanted to have the best looking artifact I guess," he said. "Some people wanted to showcase their skills, like you'll see some points aren't very well made and some are just beautifully flaked, perfectly."  

Clovis Points are recognized by their fluted channel that dives into the base, Myers said. Only the earliest culture fluted their points because they were hunting wooly mammoths.

"The point of that flute was so that when they bound the stick to the shaft, the point didn't stop, it kept going on through the animal," he said. "When you get a later point like this when they bind it to the notches, the problem with that is that the binding stops the point as soon as it goes in a little ways. To kill a mammoth you had to get really deep in through that layer of fat and tissue and hide, so that was the point of the flute."

Myers show a timeline of arrowheads from western Kansas during the presentation, starting with Clovis, the oldest, followed by Goshen, Folsom, Hell Gap and Alberta. 

Folsom Points were a big deal when they were found, Myers said. They were documented in Folsom, New Mexico, hence the name, and archaeologists flocked to that area because it was the first fluted point associated with bones at the time.

While first recorded in Folsom, Myers said he was told by archaeologist Dennis Stanford, who was an archaeologist and Director of the Paleoindian/Paleoecology Program at the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian, told him the first point like that was actually found in Scott County, on 12 Mile Creek for years prior to it's discovery.

"They were going to document it as that, and they got back to the Smithsonian and they were passing the point around, showing the artifacts and the bones they collected and then at some point the point went missing during that conference," he said. "Somebody pocketed it and then they didn't have a point to draw and take pictures of to say what it exactly was, or else it would be called a Scott County Point."

Myers said stories like that are why he likes to document and preserve Kansas history while he can, because it can be gone so quickly. 

Attendee Pauline Craft said she enjoyed the presentation. 

"I thought it was very, very good," she said. "He went back so many years I thought it can't possibly be that far back, how can it be that far back. (It goes back) much longer than I thought. I just can't imagine it. I think anything before Jesus is long ... I thought it was wonderful, I really enjoyed it, very much."

Craft decided to attend because she loves history and her husband, Dave Craft, was a history teacher and collected arrowheads when he was young.

Alvin Schultz, also enjoyed the presentation. 

"I've always been interested in the history and what's going on in the county and stuff and always been interested in rocks and fossils and stuff," he said. "It was very good."

Myers said he wanted to do the presentation because he wanted to connect with the people in the community that have probably found artifacts in the past and see what they found and what he has found. 

"It's a special feeling to be able to talk to older people about what they grew up doing as kids. Archaeology is always connecting me to the past with them and I know it's something they're passionate about and I'm passionate about," he said. "It's a lot of fun to do that."