Since Stoltman and Workmans 1969 preliminary survey of fluted points in Wisconsin, there has been little sustained effort at documenting the earliest inhabitants of the state that lent its name to the last glacial period in North America. Interest in the Paleoindian period in Wisconsin has had a long, but inconsistent history. Throughout the 1960‚s and 1970‚s Harris Palmer recorded information on paleoindian points primarily in southwest Wisconsin, but published little of his findings. In the 1980‚s and 1990‚s sporadic interest in Wisconsin Paleoindian studies continued, ultimately resulting in a special issue of the Wisconsin Archaeologist being published in 1991, in which summaries of regional overviews were presented. Throughout the late 1990‚s and next decade fluted points continued to be documented on an opportunistic basis, primarily by Ernie Boszhardt at MVAC, and other researchers, yet no systematic state-wide survey effort existed. In 1996, Thomas Loebel began to record Wisconsin fluted points in private and public collections in an effort to begin a systematic and state wide effort aimed at compiling information on the Clovis-era occupation of Wisconsin. From the beginning this has been a joint effort between many researchers and private individuals, with Loebel acting as informal co-ordinator of this effort. As of March 2012, the total number of fluted points recorded for Wisconsin is 632 and growing- largely as a result of outreach to the avocational community, private collectors, and collaboration of my professional colleagues.
In 2007, I published a brief update on 401 fluted points that had been recorded to date. The majority (n=353) fall within the typological range of variation displayed by Clovis/Gainey complex fluted points, although 48 Folsom and Midland points were also recorded. I briefly summarize these findings here.
Clovis complex points are concentrated in the southern half of the state with heavier concentrations towards the southeast, suggesting Clovis-aged land use was of unequal intensity across the state. Other concentrations result from the Withington, Aebischer, and Morrow-Hensel sites, and finds reported from lithic source areas, particularly the Silver Mound area. The lack of fluted points in northern counties may result from modern biases, however, Late Paleoindian occupations are well known within these portions of the state suggesting this area was avoided by earlier fluted point groups. A general south to north movement over time is suggested by this, as well as regional patterns of raw material use.
A variety of lithic sources were represented within the Clovis sample. One hundred twenty-eight (37%) are Hixton Silicified Sandstone from Silver Mound, 43 (12.4%) are PDC or Platteville/Galena cherts from southwest Wisconsin or northwest Illinois, 39 (11.3%) are Moline Chert from Illinois, 25 (7.2%) are Burlington chert, and 13 (3.8%) are Cochrane chert. Strong northward patterns of movement, particularly along the Rock River corridor, are indicated by long distance transport (300-400km) of Illinois cherts, in fact more Moline fluted points are known in Wisconsin than Illinois (Loebel 2005). This likely reflects redundant seasonal patterns of mobility and northward range extension over time in response to changing Late Pleistocene resource structure.
The Wisconsin fluted point survey is an on-going research project and relies heavily on the co-operation of the private community to help in compiling this rare and dispersed record of some of the earliest occupants of Wisconsin. Many thanks go out to the numerous private individuals who have already shared their finds, and all my professional colleagues who have graciously sent data. In particular, the support, co-operation, and assistance of the Badger State Archeological Society and its membership is gratefully acknowledged.