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Puzzles From the Past Traveling Resource Trunk

Using this trunk to study lifestyle changes over time:

This trunk contains items useful in talking about how the lives of Native Americans living in Kansas changed over time. These items represent three basic time periods: 640 to 470 B.C., A.D. 1470 to 1570, and A.D. the late 1600s to mid 1700s.

To examine lifestyle changes with this trunk, it is recommended that you review Lesson 4 and adapt it for your needs. In this lesson the green cards and their associated objects represent the years 640 to 480 B.C.; the peach cards and their associated objects represent A.D. 1470 to 1570; and the yellow cards and their associated objects represent the late 1600s to the mid 1700s.

Examples of possible ways to adapt this lesson include:

  • Hand out the 15 stratigraphy cards for Native American communities to students. Using the photo on the card, have students select the object their card deals with and group themselves according to the color of their cards. Explain that the green group represents Indians that lived the longest ago, the peach represents those who lived the next longest ago, and the yellow the most recent. Use the objects, Worksheet 10, and the Answer sheet for Worksheets 8 and 9 (one answer sheet) to provide an image of what their lifestyles were like. Have students compare and contrast the three time periods.
  • Have the objects grouped by time period based on the color of the stratigraphy cards they are pictured on. Use the objects, the Answer sheet for worksheets 8 and 9 (one answer sheet), and Worksheet 10 to describe the lives of the people who used these types of objects. Have students create a Venn diagram to compare and contrast lives of Native Americans from these three time periods.

640 - 480 B.C.

This time period is represented on the green stratigraphy cards. Additional information for each is available on the card itself. Use the following objects from the trunk:

  • Digging stick tip - This bone tool was widely used for gardening and ceased being used with the introduction of metal tools that became available through trade.
  • Stone dart point - The atlatl and dart were introduced around 7000 B.C. and gradually were replaced by the bow and arrow.
  • Stone scraper - The scraper was used by the earliest Native Americans and continued until game was no longer available in adequate numbers.
  • Bone fragments - Nutrition was extracted from bones by the earliest Native Americans and continued until game was no longer available in adequate numbers.
  • Hearth - (This is a photograph on the card. No object is available for this card.) Fires were used for cooking and heating. Wood in the hearth can be dated using a radiocarbon process. This can help tell how old the burned wood is.

The people living at this site between 640 and 480 B.C. worked hard to provide for their needs. Most of their food was obtained through hunting and gathering. While these people may have planted some wild plant seeds, they did not plant and cultivate crops to supply a large, consistent source of food. Hunting with an atlatl and dart was easier than the spear used by their predecessors, but it still took strength and skill to use these weapons effectively. Bison, deer, rabbits, and other small game provided meat, hides for clothing and shelter, bones for tools and additional nutrition. Skilled in working with wood, bone, shell, and stone, these people created their tools from the materials in their surrounding environment. They did not yet have the knowledge to make pottery. They cooked with methods that did not require a fire-resistant container such as placing meat on sticks over the fire or hanging the stomach of a large animal over the fire to cook in and then eating the stomach as well as the food cooked in it. During the years before A.D. 1, changes took place, but they happened slowly.

A.D. 1470-1570

This time period is represented on the peach colored stratigraphy cards. Additional information for each is available on the card itself. Use the following objects from the trunk:

  • Stone arrow point - The bow and arrow were introduced by eastern Woodland tribes. Stone arrow tips were used until metal tips became available.
  • Grassing needle - The ancestors of the Wichita Indians used this tool when building grass houses. It was used to sew the long prairie grasses onto the wooden pole frame of the grass lodge.
  • Bison scapula hoe blade - This tool became very common when Native Americans began growing crops. Scapula hoes worked so well that some Indians continued to use them even after metal hoes were introduced and traded by Europeans and Americans.
  • Sherd - Native Americans in Kansas began making pottery about the same time they got access to the bow and arrow, around A.D. 1. They stopped making and using clay pots after metal and ceramic containers became available through trade.
  • Trash filled storage pit - (This is a photograph on the card. No object is available for this card.) Storage pits were originally built to store dried food in for later use. Over time they became infested or water began to leak. As this happened, new pits were dug and old pits became used as a place to throw trash.

The people living at this site between A.D. 1470 and 1570 continued to work hard to provide for their basic needs, but they had some advantages over the people of layer 1. For one thing there were more people living in the region now known as Kansas by 1470. The amount and nutritional value of the food available to these people was greater than had been available 2,000 years earlier. The shape and function of the tools changed, but stone, wood, and bone continued to be the materials used to make them. Three of the most important changes between the cultures of 640 to 480 B.C. and these people were the bow and arrow, plant cultivation, and pottery.

By 1470 the bow and arrow had completely replaced the atlatl and dart. People continued to hunt the same types of animals as the did in earlier times, but they had an easier time doing this. In addition to hunting, the people living between 1470 and 1570 had acquired the ability to cultivate crops. This allowed more food to be accumulated, which meant that the surplus could be stored for use during the winter when fresh produce was not as abundant, as evidenced by storage pits. In order to cultivate crops, it is important to have a suitable location. This usually means a village with permanent housing and a ready supply of water. The grassing needle is evidence that these people lived in substantial houses. From past research archeologists know that grassing needles were used to construct circular, dome-shaped houses, thatched with bundles of grass. The ability to make pottery meant that these people could cook in pots over the fire and carry water more effectively from rivers and streams. A great deal changed during the 2,000 years between layers 480 B.C and 1470 A.D., but the next several hundred years brought even greater changes for Native Americans living in the Central Plains. The agents of momentous change were the first Europeans, the Coronado expedition, who traveled through the region known today as Kansas in 1541.

A.D. late 1600s to mid 1700s

This time period is represented on the yellow stratigraphy cards. Additional information for each is available on the card itself. Use the following objects from the trunk:

  • Metal arrow point - Indians began to use metal for arrow points soon after contact with Europeans.
  • Glass beads - Small glass seed beads became widely available to Indians through fur trade. They were used to compliment, or replace, earlier forms of decoration such as quillwork.
  • Horn button - The button became available through the fur trade.
  • Pot section - The pot is of a style made and used by the ancestors of the Wichita Indians.
  • Tipi ring - (This is a photograph on the card. No object is available for this card.) Tipis were types of mobile houses. The only thing that remains of these structures are rings of stones once used to hold the edges of the tipis to the ground. These can still be found in some remote locations in Kansas.

The Native Americans living at this location between the late-1600s and the mid-1700s continued to benefit from the technological innovations seen initially in the objects of 1470 to 1570 A.D. (the bow and arrow, crop cultivation, and pottery), but the artifacts left behind also signal adaptations made after contact with Europeans. These people continued to hunt with bow and arrow, but they no longer chipped their arrow points from stone. They traded for ready-made points or shaped their own from scrap metal. Items such as the glass beads and horn button indicated that other changes were occurring in regard to self-expression through decoration and ornamentation. Yet, the presence of native-made pottery demonstrated that not all traditions were relinquished, even though the people probably had access to metal pots and pans through trade. The tipi ring suggests that this group lived a nomadic, or semi-nomadic lifestyle. The evidence of a full-sized Plains tipi in this layer indicates that these people had horses, one of the most important changes brought about through European contact. (The size of the tipi increased as the horse replaced the dog as the primary means of transporting the tipi.)


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