Featured on cover of Spring American Archaeology
magazine, they state that “Adding to a growing body of
evidence people settled in North America long before
Clovis sites, artifacts found at Cooper’s Ferry indicate
humans arrived at least 16,000 years ago.”
Archaeological Evidence of Early Peoples at Cooper's Ferry/Nipéhe in Western Idaho
By Dr. Loren G. Davis, Anthropology, Oregon State University
PNWAS ZOOM Meeting Thursday October 26th 2023 starting at 6:30 with program at 7:00 PM To join the ZOOM Meeting and see the presentation please become a member today!
Director, Dr. Loren Davis, Oregon State University,
holding a recently found stemmed point; this Fall’s
Archaeological excavations conducted at the Cooper's Ferry/Nipéhe site in Western Idaho's lower Salmon River canyon revealed a long record of repeated occupation beginning by ~16,000 years ago. This record includes pit features containing the earliest stemmed projectile points in the Americas. In this presentation, we discuss how the archaeological record at the Cooper's Ferry/Nipéhe site tells us about the early ancestors of the Nez Perce peoples and what their world of the Pacific Northwest was like.
The fourteen projectile points found are razor-sharp and
range from half an inch to two inches long. They are
stemmed points, which means the base of the point was
shaped into a squared-off stem to attach to a spear or
arrow shaft. Compare these points to those made by later
Clovis culture (below) and they are different.
Examples of Cooper’s Ferry stemmed points (upper) and
later Clovis points (lower) with concave bases and
flutes—that is, a groove extends from the base a third or
halfway up the blade—rather than stemmed
Map showing location of Coopers Ferry on the Snake River and
the Lakes Missoula and Columbia floods that missed this upriver
site. Note how the Chehalis River Drainage was also unaffected
and we at PNWAS view this drainage as the original entrance
area of people into the American Continents, eventually reaching
Cooper Ferry (and Rimrock Draw Rock Shelter).
Overview of Excavations
Cooper’s Ferry site locality on Snake River in Western
Excavator at work recording artifacts at Cooper’s Ferry