Wapwallopen Site

Our consultation and review of the collected information from the State Museum of Pennsylvania (SMOP) identified the Wapwallopen site as the first collection to seek repatriation. Wapwallopen is a historic Delaware village (ca. 1740-1760) located along the Susquehanna River in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.

We have identified this site as our primary site to be repatriated because (1) the Notice of Inventory Completion for the site has been posted and it is already affiliated with the Delaware Tribe and the Delaware Nation, (2) it appears from our research that all of the remains that were excavated are held by one institution, and (3) the records from the excavation are thorough enough for us to most confidently identify the funerary objects and re-associate them with the appropriate individuals.

The Walwallopen Site (36LU43), also known as the Knouse Site, is an early Historic period site (AD 1744-1755) in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, excavated by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in 1978 with the permission of the landowner, PP&L. The excavation was led by Jamie McIntyre who was working for WCORPO (?) and the Dayton Museum of Natural History (now Boonshoft Museum of Discovery). According to the site report, the crew consisted of the following individuals: Jude Carino, Ed Elscheid, Eric Graybill, and Diane Rometo.

According to the original State Museum of Pennsylvania inventory, at least 24 burials (representing 28 individuals) were recovered and are at the State Museum of Pennsylvania, along with a large number of associated funerary objects.

According to the inventory, there are 28 MNIs and 6834 AFOs from this site. Some 20 numbered burials (one including 4 individuals, one including 2) are recorded on burial sheets along with two unnumbered burials and one identified only as from Feature 5. One burial, Burial 18, has no burial sheet.

Reports on the site include “An Archaeological Study of Indian Village Sites in the Lower Wyoming Valley” (Pennsylvania Archaeology 9(2):21-34) and “The Knouse Site: An Historical Site in Luzerne Co., Pa.” (Jamie McIntyre, 1978, manuscript on file at State Museum of Pennsylvania).

Summary of Repatriation Preparation

On July 28 and 29, 2011, Brice Obermeyer, Greg Brown, Bonnie Thaxton, and James Jackson visited the State Museum of Pennsylvania for consultation. We were met by curators Kurt Carr and Janet Johson. At that time we were given documentation and were shown the ethnographic objects and some of the funerary objects from the sites.

On August 16, 2011, Greg Brown returned to the museum to view the objects again and to record notes written on the actual artifact boxes, which appear to sometimes be more complete than the notes in the inventory. At that time he also finished photocopying the field notes for the Wapwallopen site.

Greg Brown and Janet Johnson of the State Museum of Pennsylvania (SMOP) completed the final reconciliation of information about this site on February 21 and 22, 2012 at the SMOP in Harrisburg, PA. Significant highlights of this week of work are as follows:

We began by printing out the Wapwallopen burial summary sheets from the DTHPO web site. We began to go through the burials one by one based on these sheets, addressing the main questions (relating to Burial 1, Burial 6, Burial 14). Janet found some black and white contact sheets showing the excavation, which helped to understand the general layout of the burials as well as site conditions. We also pulled out the detailed burial sheets produced by Ana Boza, the physical anthropologist who examined the remains. Janet copied several of these sheets for us to help understand the most confusing burials.

We spent the late morning and early afternoon going through the paperwork. In so doing we discovered the probable location of Burial 1 (which was not shown on the site map), worked through some confusing descriptions of Burials 6, 8, and 12 (excavated on the same day and apparently not very well controlled in terms of sorting out provenience), and found a lot of small inconsistencies that we will have to check against the actual remains.

Details about the specific alterations to the existing inventory will be noted on the burial sheets on the web site, and Janet is noting that items that she will need to change on the updated notice.

On the afternoon of the first day we went to the collections room and pulled out the remains and boxes of associated artifacts. We also pulled out a series of several small boxes from the collections drawers representing material that was found after the main collections of remains and artifacts were inventoried; these materials will be added to the existing inventory by Janet based on our review of them.

The human remains are in large Hollinger boxes, with particular elements packed within those boxes in plastic bags. I checked for general matches of the number of bones with the listings in the submitted inventory, which came from skeletal diagrams and metric sheets created by Ana Boza. Photographs were taken of most of the skeletal remains, although they were kept within their plastic bags where possible.

We also began sorting through the artifact boxes, which again were kept within Hollinger boxes. Most artifacts were photographed, except those where photographs were already supplied. Seed beads and other small items were left in their vials when photographed. All items on the summary sheets were checked against the actual artifacts, but materials such as seed beads were not re-counted.

Again, specific changes will be noted on the individual burial sheets, links to which are listed below in the Identified Individuals section.

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