Paleoindian ochre mine in Wyoming may be largest in North America

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – The Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum continues its summer speaker series tomorrow with guest speaker Dr. Spencer Pelton from the University of Wyoming. He’ll be discussing his archaeological research on the Powars II site in Wyoming.

George Frison, PhD. (Western History Center)

The Powars II site has been a source of fascination by archaeologists since the 1980s, when a remarkable collection of Paleoindian artifacts from an early 20thcentury collection came to the attention of archaeologists associated with the Smithsonian Institute and the University of Wyoming. Research conducted by George Frison (Wyoming’s own ‘Father of Archaeology’), George Zeimans, and Spencer Pelton has yielded thousands of Paleoindian artifacts eroding from the site, including over 50 Clovis points (13-11,000 years ago).

The Powars II site is one of the largest Paleoindian assemblages in North America and truly unique in the world as the only Paleolithic example of red ochre procurement.

According to the Minerals Education Coalition, the Sunrise Mining District of southeastern Wyoming has provided resources for people for thousands of years. Prospectors have dug hundreds of exploration pits and shafts seeking copper-bearing minerals.

One of these early copper seekers followed a crevice into an underground chamber which Native Americans had excavated as they mined ochre, or soft hematite. The chamber still contained the stone hammers that were used to break out the soft hematite rock. This ochre excavation was the embryonic beginning of the Sunrise Iron Ore Mine.

Join the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum Thursday, June 14 at 6pm at the museum (225 N Cache).

 

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