Paleoindian Use of the Lake Fork Valley, Southwest Colorado


For more than a decade, University of Oklahoma archaeologists have teamed with avocational archaeologist Mike Pearce to document Paleoindian use of the Lake Fork Valley (LFV), southwest Colorado. The Lake Fork of the Gunnison River flows from the town of Lake City approximately 50 km north to the Gunnison River in the Upper Gunnison Basin (UGB). Interestingly, however, the Paleoindian record of the LFV differs markedly from that of the better-known UGB. We hypothesize that treating the LFV as simply an extension of UGB Paleoindian occupation may be ill-advised. In this paper, we summarize the early archaeological record of the LFV, focusing on its suite of Paleoindian site types, projectile point technologies, and most importantly, chipped stone raw materials. We contextualize the Lake Fork of the Gunnison geographically and explore whether the proximity of its headwaters to those of the Rio Grande River—just 40 km to the southwest—could hold the key to understanding the role of the LFV in Rocky Mountain Paleoindian lifeways. The Rio Grande is a direct conduit to the San Luis Valley, which has a well-documented Paleoindian record that may share more in common with the LFV signature than does the UGB.

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Cite this Record

Paleoindian Use of the Lake Fork Valley, Southwest Colorado. William Ankele, Bonnie L. Pitblado, Meghan J. Forney, Christopher W. Merriman. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395331)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;