Recognized archaeologically by their distinct material culture, Oneota sites exist in many ecological zones across the Upper Midwest during the late Precontact period, c. 1000-1700 CE. Consequently, the sites are hardly homogenous. Across localities, Oneota groups are recognized as food producers who grew Zea mays (maize), Cucurbita pepo (squash), and later Phaseolus vulgaris (bean). The utilization of other wild and domesticated botanical resources across localities is not as well documented.. While extensive paleoethnobotanical analyses have been completed for the late Precontact period in southeastern Minnesota (Schirmer) and southwestern Wisconsin (Arzigian), little is known about plant utilization by Oneota groups on the Minnesota prairie. As a result, there is a significant gap in archeologists’ knowledge and understanding of Oneota plant utilization. The Vosburg site (21FA002) is a Blue Earth phase Oneota site located in Minnesota, within the woodland-prairie transitional ecotone. Radiocarbon dates date the site’s occupation at c. 1300-1400 CE. The macrobotanical remains from the northern half of a large, culturally significant feature from the Vosburg site were analyzed and compared to those of previous paleoethnobotanical studies from contemporaneous Oneota sites in the Red Wing and La Crosse localities and the Sheffield site (21WA013). Differences in the botanical assemblages were examined in light of subsistence, technology, and environment. The results of this study demonstrate the importance of understanding the diversity of plant utilizations by Oneota groups, in different localities. Moreover, this study provided a more accurate understanding of the environment of southern Minnesota c. 1300-1400, with the development of big woods vegetation beginning centuries earlier than previously thought. This study is a significant contribution to archeologists’ limited understanding of diversity in Oneota plant assemblages and of the Blue Earth phase of Oneota in southeastern Minnesota.


Ron Schirmer

Committee Member

Constance Arzigian

Committee Member

Phillip Larson

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Science (MS)

Program of Study

Applied Anthropology, Specialization in Archaeology


Geography and Anthropology


Humanities and Social Sciences



Rights Statement

In Copyright