Private Landowners as Stewards of Oregon Heritage: Learning from an Important Stone Tool Cache Found on Private Property in the Willamette Valley

A talk by John Pouley, Oregon State Archaeologist, State Historic Preservation Office

Part of the 2021 Archaeology Roadshow



During the summer of 2015, a landowner finds an “interesting rock” building a spring-fed pond on his property. The rock is obsidian, and seems out of place. Eventually, 14 are found. After some internet research he believes he may have found a biface cache. He reports the find to the State Historic Preservation Office.

This presentation covers the story of the recording of the first biface cache in the Willamette Valley, associated archaeological investigations, and the incredible stewardship of a landowner. The story is also about collaboration among professionals, a rare opportunity for archaeology public outreach, and shared learning about the past. Had the biface cache not been reported, or simply donated to an institution, the opportunity to learn from its context would have been lost. Understanding the context provided the ability to learn more about the innovative Santiam Kalapuya people at and in the vicinity of the cache, and their connection to a much broader region for at least the past 4000 years.

Biographical Information
John Pouley is the Oregon State Archaeologist at the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) in Salem. John is from Seattle, Washington, and received undergraduate degrees from Washington State University (History) and Central Washington University (Archaeology). He completed his graduate studies at Washington State University (Archaeology), where he focused on the precontact Columbia Plateau. In addition to the Columbia Plateau, John has archaeological experience in the Arctic, Great Basin, and Northwestern Plains. In the past 26 years, John worked for private contractors, a federal agency, a federally recognized tribe, and SHPO. Throughout his career, he has authored numerous reports on his archaeological investigations, nominated archaeological sites and districts to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) and published articles on his research in peer reviewed archaeology journals. John enjoys presenting his research at regional and national archaeological conferences, archaeological societies, for tribes, federal and state agencies, SHPOs, universities, primary and secondary schools, and for the general public. John is currently researching the history of Battle Creek in Salem.