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Ancient Native American Stone Pieces Unearthed

Oregon Parks and Recreation Dept.

What’s being called a significant archeological discovery has been found in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.  KLCC’s Brian Bull reports ancient obsidian objects are linked to early Native American activity in the region.

They’re called bifaces…basically small stones that were chipped and formed for tools or weapons.  These ones are between 1,000 to 4,000 years old. 

A landowner alerted the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office when they found the bifaces.  Assistant State Archaeologist John Pouley led the excavation in June. 

Credit Oregon Parks and Recreation Dept.
John Pouley, Assistant State Archaeologist for the state historic preservation office, catalogs the bifaces.

“This is the only known biface cache in the Willamette Valley," says Pouley.  "Amazing that the landowner contacted anybody.  Often people who find stuff like this on their property are afraid to contact folks for fear of getting in trouble, or folks just want to keep the items for themselves. 

"And we really discourage that because we also have a lot of other information from nearby sites,” he adds. 

This site is in the traditional territory of the Santiam Band of the Kalapuya Indians.

The landowner hasn’t decided what they’ll do with the excavated objects.  Under Oregon state law, landowners own any recovered artifacts on their property, unless they’re Native American remains or burial pieces.  

Pouley says the landowner could donate the bifaces to a museum or a local Indian tribe.  Pouley and his team will present their findings at an anthropological conference next year in Spokane, Washington.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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