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Avonlea Complex Peoples

Avonlea Complex sites are located in the plains of Montana, eastern Wyoming; as well as the plains areas of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba in Canada.

Characteristic Avonlea points are generally very well made, slender arrow points having notches which are relatively broad compared to their depth, and with straight to moderately concave bases. One of the most distinctive aspects of Avonlea points is their very thin cross-section and fine, well controlled and patterned flaking. The distinctive exceptional workmanship of Avonlea projectile points may reflect religious ceremonialism associated with their manufacture and use.

Avonlea peoples are generally accepted to be the first group within the Northern Plains to use the bow and arrow as their primary weapon system. Evidence of the Avonlea Complex first appears on the Northern Plains at about 1750 years BP (before the present time) and persists until about 1150 to 800 BP. Within Northern Montana, available Carbon-14 dates indicates the presence of the Avonlea peoples from about 1300 BP until 800 BP.

Avonlea peoples used the eastern end of the site to a limited extent as a buffalo kill and the western end for associated campsite activities. Present evidence suggests Avonlea peoples at Wahkpa Chu'gn Buffalo Jump are unrelated to the earlier Besant peoples who occupied and used the site. However, Avonlea peoples at the site are quite possibly the ancestors of later Old Women's Complex peoples who used the site extensively from about 1350 to at least 900 years before present.

Either Avonlea and/or Old Women's peoples at the Wahkpa Chu'gn site specifically used buffalo skulls to help them construct pounds or corrals at the eastern end of the site. To secure the upright posts of the corral, a series of post holes were dug in the ground along the fence line. Each of these post holes were about 18" wide and of a similar depth. Two wooden posts were then placed upright in each of these holes, and wedged into place using two or more buffalo skulls. The specific use of buffalo skulls for this purpose suggests religious ceremonialism associated with the construction and use of the corrals. Earlier Besant peoples at Wahkpa Chu'gn Buffalo Jump also build wooden corral structures, but in a different manner, and not using buffalo skulls.

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