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Archaeological investigations of the River Bluffs Open Space, Windsor, Colorado: a case study in cooperation between artifact collectors, the public, and archaeologists




Anderson, Jessica E., author
LaBelle, Jason, advisor
Van Buren, Mary, committee member
Manfredo, Michael, committee member

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The River Bluffs Open Space, located in Windsor, Colorado has experienced changes to both its environment and its cultural resources throughout history. The Harvester site (5LR12641) and the Weinmeister site (5LR12174), located at the confluence of Fossil Creek and the Cache la Poudre River on the northern boundary of the Open Space, have been affected by agricultural practices from the 1950s until the early 1990s, as well as amateur artifact collecting for nearly the same amount of time. The land now belongs to Larimer County and has been developed as the River Bluffs Open Space and as an extension of the Poudre River Trail. The transition of the Open Space from private land to publicly owned recreation space allows archaeologists and education professionals an opportunity to engage the public in local archaeological education. However, this opportunity would have been impossible without the help and involvement of Garry Weinmeister, the owner of a large extant collection of Native American artifacts collected from the Open Space. The goal of this thesis is to highlight the importance of archaeologists and artifact collectors working collectively towards a better understanding of the past. Each party has specialized knowledge concerning the past, either through independent research and extensive local knowledge, or painstakingly connecting the local idiosyncrasies of the past into a larger methodological and theoretical framework. By combining archaeological survey work on the Harvester site with an extant artifact collection from the Harvester and Weinmeister sites, my thesis research presents a well-rounded archaeological interpretation of the Open Space, which would have been lost without the help of a private collector. To answer specific archaeological questions about the prehistoric uses of the River Bluffs Open Space property, this research addresses the mobility practices of Early Ceramic groups. Movement between two diverse environments, the mountains and the plains, is evident based upon the analysis of the raw materials of 120 projectile points from Weinmeister's private collection. In addition, the analysis of one of the largest assemblages of small, incised, tubular bone beads yet found in eastern Colorado addresses the connections of the River Bluffs Open Space with the Plains Woodland cultures from the Plains of Nebraska and Kansas. This research suggests that the River Bluffs Open Space was part of both eastern and western cultural traditions. Finally, the River Bluffs Open Space was developed for public recreation. Therefore, a chapter of this work is devoted to detailing the importance of archaeological site stewardship. This is completed through detailing the different groups of the public affected by this research, and the creation of an interpretive sign that imparts the archaeological story the River Bluffs Open Space.


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artifact collectors
Colorado Plains Woodland
Early Ceramic
eastern Colorado


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