Avonlea Peoples

Avonlea sites are located largely within the Northern plains areas of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, in Canada; Montana; northeast Wyoming; and extreme western North and South Dakota.

Avonlea points are generally very well made, slender arrowpoints 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 workmanship of Avonlea projectile points may reflect religious ceremonialism was 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 people first appears on the Northern Plains at about 1,750 years BP (before the present time) and persists until about 1,150 to 950 BP. Within Northern Montana, available Carbon-14 dates indicates the presence of the Avonlea peoples from about 1,300 BP until 800 BP.

Avonlea peoples used the Wahkpa Chu'gn Archaeological Site only to a limited extent for both buffalo kill and campsite activities.

Present evidence suggests Avonlea peoples at Wahkpa Chu'gn 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 Saddle Butte peoples who used the site extensively from about 800 A.D. to at least 1,200 A.D.

Either Avonlea and/or Saddle Butte peoples at the Wahkpa Chu'gn site specifically used buffalo skulls to help them construct their pounds or corrals.

To secure the upright posts of the corral, a series of post holes were dug in the ground along the fenceline. 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 also build wooden corral structures, but in a different manner, and not using buffalo skulls.

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