Upper Midwest History the Late Paleo Indian Period

Late Paleoindian (10,000BC – 9,200BC)

Several changes occurred in the Late Paleoindian. Northern foraging territories increased as a result of continued deglaciation (Mason 1997). These foraging strategies were adapted by the Paleoindians to the lake and forest conditions that they encountered more frequently (Mason 1997). Up to this point, Paleoindian peoples utilized fluted projectiles, which are characterized by the removal of a flake on either face of the point to create a “flute” or groove on the point. This happens during the last stage of a projectile’s creation, and while there is some debate, the fluting likely served to make hafting easier and more secure (Whittaker 2005:235). However, fluting decreased at the beginning of this period (Cleland 1998:49).

The exact reason for this change is unknown. The decreased use of fluting may have indicated a related adaptation to environmental changes, as hunters searched for prey in more crowded forest environments (Cleland 1998:49-50). Regardless, evidence provided by the Deadman Slough and Sucices sites in northern Wisconsin suggest that peoples in the Late Paleoindian employed a foraging strategy that exploited a broad range of animal species (Kuehn 1998:457). This is supported by the appearance of the lanceolate, or lance-shaped, point, a new type of projectile that was designed for spear use like the fluted projectiles (Whittaker 2005:42).

The Lanceolate projectile point type continued to be used. There are several significant attributes of this point type. Its size would have made it an effective hunting weapon against the large prey that the Paleoindian peoples sought. The size would have limited their range and was likely useful in an open environment, such as the plains, where these animals would be found. A second attribute of the lanceolate projectile point was the characteristic fluting, which is signified by the removal of two final flakes along both faces of the point (Whittaker 2005:230-236). This is a relatively unique process and is the hallmark of this period, and although there is little contention that fluting was a functional adaptation, there is more disagreement regarding what that function was.

While the technique was dangerous to perform because it risked ruining th otherwise finished projectile point, it likely helped to facilitate hafting (Whittaker 2005:235). Other theories about the use of fluting include the idea that they were blood grooves intended to make an animal bleed faster and that they were used so that a spear could be removed from an animal and fitted with another projectile point more easily (Whittaker 2005:235).

-Works Cited-

Cleland, Charles
1982 The Inland Shore Fishery of the Northern Great Lakes: Its Development and Importance in Prehistory. American Antiquity, Vol. 47 (4): 761-784.

Kuehn, Steven.
1998 New Evidence for Late Paleoindian-Early Archaic Subsistence Behavior in the Western Great Lakes. American Antiquity, Vol. 63 (3): 457-476.

Whittaker, John. C.
2005 Flintknapping: Making and Understanding Stone Tools. University of Texas Press. Austin, Texas.