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Archaeological Investigations at the Salmon Beds 


Kootenay Region

Choquette (1985a, 1985b, etc.) has proposed a cultural chronology for the Kootenay region based on numerous small-scale archaeological projects and the results of major mitigation studies of hydroelectric projects in Montana and Idaho.  The earliest defined cultural complex, the Goatfell Complex, dates from approximately 11000 BP to 7000 B.P.   Lithic materials from the Goatfell Quarry, tourmalinite, black metamorphosed siltstone and quartzites characterize this complex.  Diagnostic tools are large stemmed and shouldered spear points, but lanceolate forms are also present.  Other characteristics include extensive biface reduction, with large expanding flakes with acute-angled, faceted striking platforms, and well-controlled flaking patterns.  Fire broken rock and bone are sparse.  Sites of this period are rare and a detail study this material is required.

The Bristow Complex spans the time from ca. 7500 – 4000 B.P.  and is based primarily on surface collected data.  A distinctive characteristic of this complex is lithic raw materials derived primarily from glacial outwash and river gravels (quartzite, siliceous mudstone and siltstone, cherty limestone).  The technology applied to these pebbles and cobbles resembles that of the Goatfell Complex.  "Large bifacial cores were reduced to produce large bifaces and large expanding flakes which were modified into a variety of tools.Projectile points are a rather variable lot, although notched forms apparently predominate.  Included are shallow or deep side- to broad side-/corner-notched dart points resembling those typed as “Bitterroot”, “Salmon River”, and “Oxbow” by Reeves (1970)”(Choquette 1985a).

The Inissimi Complex dates from ca. 3500 – 2000 B.P.  Defining characteristics include a high frequency of Kootenay Argillite and a riverine oriented settlement pattern.  The tool assemblage is characterized by the reduction in size of bifaces and flake tools as compared to earlier periods.  A distinctive style dart point (“Inissimi Point”) is present with an expanding stem, convex base, pronounced shoulders and typically excurvate blade edges.  Other projectile points occur less frequently consisting of deeply corner-notched, expanding stemmed, concave base and contracting-stemmed dart points.  The time periods immediately preceding and follow the Inissimi Complex are poorly represented in the archaeology of the region and require further definition. Choquette refers to these as Transitional.

The Akinyinek Complex is dated from ca. 1000-550 B.P. and is known from the Big Bend area of the Kootenai River in the United States.  Projectile points are small and well made with low set, shallow side notches, strongly reminiscent of the Avonlea type of the Plains.  Small, well made, unnotched triangular to lanceolate arrow points occur less frequently.  Red and golden dendritic cherts predominate in the lithic assemblages in the south.

The Akahonek Complex dates from ca. 1000 BP to historic contact.  Numerous small side-notched arrow points and a predominance of Top of the World Chert characterize it. 


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