After reading a new translation of the 1601 documents of Juan Onate and his conquistadors, Dr. Donald Blakeslee, Professor of Archaeology at Wichita State University, began to believe that the city of Etzanoa, ‘missing’ for nearly 400 years was in or around Arkansas City.
Preliminary research, on-site searches, and a one-week dig in 2016, followed by a three-week long dig in 2017, and the discovery of a Spanish musket ball last year, proved Dr. Blakeslee, Lead Archaeologist for Etzanoa, was right.
On September 17th, Blakeslee will speak to the Sumner County Historical and Genealogical Society at the Raymond Frye Complex, 320 N. Jefferson, Wellington. Blakeslee will share information and updates following the 2018 dig. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.. The program is free and visitors welcome. For questions or weather cancellations, contact Jane at 620-447-3266 or Sherry at 316-833-6161.
This June, Blakeslee, along with college students and dig volunteers spent four weeks unearthing more of Etzanoa’s history.
Among the artifacts they found were pieces of pottery, stone tools, bone tools, arrow points and stone awls for working bison hide. They also found two more rusty Spanish artifacts.
“One appears to be a button,” Blakeslee said, but added that they still need to process the artifacts to learn more about the site and the Etzanoa inhabitants.
“We will do a fancy analysis of the residue,” Blakeslee said, “we will be able to learn what was cooked in those pots.”
Archaeology research on the site has revealed to them that the people who lived in Etzanoa were ancestors of the Wichita tribe and that the site existed from approximately the mid 1400’s to the early 1700’s. They believe Etzanoa was host to approximately 20,000 people, who grew maize, beans, squash and pumpkin, and killed buffalo. At this time, no one knows where the people moved to and why they left Etzanoa.
The site has sparked interest across the state, and across the nation, and it keeps Blakeslee busy responding to hundreds of emails and requests to speak.
Blakeslee said that they were able to rent a Mobile Analytical Laboratory for two weeks of the dig.
“There’s a lot of stuff we need,” Blakeslee said, “people keep coming up with new technologies and new techniques.”
The newest technology that Blakeslee hopes they can add on to their budget and to their tools is a $55,000 Laser scanner that creates three dimensional maps with two million 3-D points of where they are digging.
“This machine is magic,” Blakeslee said, “we would just love to have one.”
If anyone has Native American artifacts, Blakeslee has asked that you feel free to bring them to the meeting for him to see.
At this time, Etzanoa tours are available most Saturdays, and begin with the viewing of a short video and then a tour of the major sites around Arkansas City, including the location of the chief’s house, and the site where the battle between the Native Americans and Conquistadores was fought. Call the Cherokee Strip Land Rush Museum at 620-442-6750 for reservations.