Dilzhe' 'e bii tian: Archaeological Investigations of Apache Sites near Little Green Valley, Arizona, State Route 260 - Payson to Heber Archaeological Project, Gila County, Arizona

Editor(s): Sarah A. Herr

Year: 2011


The mountainous zone below the Mogollon Rim in central Arizona was home to Apache in the pre-Reservation period (pre-A.D. 1875). Four Western Apache site components, dating between the late seventeenth and late nineteenth centuries A.D., were identified during excavations conducted in advance of the realignment of the Preacher Canyon and Little Green Valley segments of State Route 260 between Payson and Heber: Plymouth Landing, AZ O:12:89/ AR-03-12-04-1411 (ASM/TNF), McGoonie, AZ O:12:25/AR-03-12-04-743 (ASM/TNF), Ponderosa Campground, AZ O:12:19/AR-03-12-04-1159 (ASM/TNF), and Bonobos Vista, AZ O:12:88/AR-03-12-04-1438 (ASM/TNF). All four sites were situated on the margins of the permanently watered Little Green Valley, and were used as temporary encampments for harvesting juniper berries, black walnuts, and other forest resources.

The Apache settlement of this pre-Reservation homeland is introduced here, and is discussed in the context of a larger Apache research program for the project and the region. Due to the nature of Apache material remains, which often go unrecognized, particularly when overlying prehistoric material, little archaeological research has been conducted. The pre-A.D. 1700 Plymouth Landing site is significant as one of the earliest well-documented Apache occupations in the southwestern United States. Additionally, the extraordinary preservation of this site, in conjunction with the results of fieldwork, artifact analyses, and discussions with Apache advisors, provides a basis for not only reconstructing the Apache occupation, but also for assessing the archaeological methods and middle-range theory that can be used in interpretation.

Asking why Apache archaeology is of such limited visibility to the archaeologist provides important insights into Apache settlement strategies. Analyses of ceramics, flaked stone, ground stone, macrobotanical, pollen, faunal, and shell artifacts, combined with ethnographic research, show that the Apache components of sites in this region are the remnants of a mobile population, living in an economy dominated by hunting and the collection of arboreal resources, with only limited reliance on cultivated plants. The seventeenth to mid-nineteenth century A.D. Apache families made preferential use of the settlements of their predecessors, and supplemented their own tool assemblages with the extant products of local prehistoric peoples. This, combined with the results of previous research, strongly suggests Apache occupations should no longer be inadvertent discoveries, but rather, expected in this region that was their home for more than 200 years.

Cite this Record

Dilzhe' 'e bii tian: Archaeological Investigations of Apache Sites near Little Green Valley, Arizona, State Route 260 - Payson to Heber Archaeological Project, Gila County, Arizona, 05. Sarah A. Herr. 2011 ( tDAR id: 428121) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8428121

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -111.331; min lat: 34.221 ; max long: -110.581; max lat: 34.451 ;

Record Identifiers

Technical Report No.(s): 2006-05

Federal Aid Number(s): 260-B(201)B

Arizona Project Specific Permit No.(s): 1999-121ps

TRACS No.(s): 260 GI 262 H4699 01C; 260 GI 262 H4699 01D; 260 GI 260 H2762 01L

Project Number(s): F-053-2-202

Tonto National Forest Permit No.(s): PAY5; PAY56; PAY6; PAY54; PAY145; PAY144

Contract No.(s): 99-59

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