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Chatham Daily News, Aug 20 1949


Please remember that this is recorded for historical purposes. The information must be treated with respect as this describes the finding of human remains. These are very sacred to Native Peoples, and as such this story must be read with respect for those interred here in these descriptions.

Museum Experts find 600 year old Village




Relics of a primitive culture that existed in what is now Kent County when the Black Prince was winning the battle of Crecy have within the past two weeks been uncovered in Harwich township by an archaeological party from the Royal Ontario Museum.

Diggings conducted under the direction of K E Kidd, have disclosed that, possibly six centuries ago, or even more, an Indian Village occupied the river bank in the rear of the W V Krieger farm on the River Road in Harwich township.

The discoveries in a sand ridge which marked the crest of the old river bank, include two burial mounds, containing, respectively three and eight skeletons.

The remains have been definitely identified as antedating the Iroquois and even the Neutral or Attawandaron Indians. The latter who has occupied the southwestern peninsula for between two and three centuries were wiped out by the Iroquois some 300 years ago.

Local Archaeologists Interested

Attention of the Royal Ontario Museum was directed to the site by Neil Koppieters and Stanley Wortner, who realized its possibilities. It was on this site immediately in the rear of the Krieger barn, that the youthful Jack Gazarek of Eberts a year or more ago discovered fragments of a prehistoric Indian pot which, patiently pieced together by the finder, now occupies a conspicuous place in the Indian department of the Chatham-Kent museum.

Gazarek and Walter Winberg of Chatham are among the younger generation of archaeologists who have shown a keen interest in the present investigations.

The village site was located on a sand ridge in the rear of the Krieger barn. Mr Kidd surmised that in prehistoric times the river probably came up to this point. For obvious reasons, Indian villages from the earliest days were usually located close to lakes or streams.

Two Weeks Work

Excavations were started about two weeks ago, and the present stage of the operations will, itis expected, be completed within the next two or three days, when the party will fold their tents and leave the scene for the time being. Between 20 and 30 squares have been dug.

The time available for the work permitted merely a preliminary investigation to determine the size of the village. As a first step, the site to be excavated is staked into 5 foot squares, each of them numbered, and the digging follows a certain sequence, cross trenches being run to judge the extent of the site.

Archaeological digging is a bit different from the ordinary kind. It has to be done slowly and carefully, and the digger has to keep his eye peeled for any significant relics in the earth turned up.

Burial Mounds

The present digging disclosed a certain amount of pottery fragments, some bone awls, a considerable amount of fish bone, but not much in the way of animal remains.

The most significant discoveries were the two ceremonial burial mounds. The first and more northerly mount yielded three skeletons. The second and more southerly mound disclosed eight. These were apparently the bones of young women and they were so laid that the spines formed the circumference of a circle.

Uncovering the bones is a patient process. It is necessary to use exceeding care in removing the earth.

The burials were not deep, the skeletons being two feet or less below the surface. The more northerly mound had been somewhat disturbed by plowing.

Woodland Indians

The village site has been defined for a length of approximately 200 feet, along the ridge. It is difficult to determine it's width owing to the farm buildings.

It is an early site, previous to the Iroquois or even the Neutrals, Mr Kidd stated. "Just when, it is impossible to determine, as we have no time scale established yet. We will have to do more digging and find a site where the remains of the Neutral Indians overlie those of the earlier occupants to work out the time factor."

By archaeologists, the occupants of the village are designated "Woodland Indians" a name coined for purposes of identification.

We don't know what language they spoke, Mr Kidd remarked. Our discoveries show a certain development toward the Iroquois culture, though these earlier Indians were definitely not Iroquois. That's why it is important in the history of Ontario to find further links so that we can ultimately see the complete chain of development.

Seeks Information

The neutrals, wiped out by the Iroquois about the year 1649 or a little earlier, are believed to have occupied the southwestern peninnsula since around the year 1350. The woodland Indians occupation might antedate them by centuries.

Discussing his work, Mr Kidd voiced keen interest in anything that would help to furnish a picture of the prehistoric Indian occupations of Kent County. "I would be grateful for information as to other Indian sites around here", he stated. "We would like to have the information for our records."