During the 1978 field season, the University of South Dakota's Archaeological Laboratory was contracted by the Corpsof Engineers, Omaha District, to remove what were thought at that time to be several burials from the end of the fortification ditch. The steep-sided area had been made unstable by a looter's hole. As a consequence of stepping-back the excavations so that the area could be stabilized, the remains of nearly 500 people in one large bone pile were exposed. Paramortem paleopathology of the massacre victims (Zimmerman, Gregg and Gregg 1981) indicated that every individual had been badly mutilated and many had been dismembered. Mutilations included scalping on virtually all of the victims, removal of hands and feet from many victims, skull fractures, decapitation, and other mutilations that frequently accompany massacre. The discovery of the Crow Creek bone pile demanded are interpretation of the culture history of the Middle Missouri River region. Although the fortification systems around some sites indicated at least some level of conflict, few suspected intensities so great as that discovered at Crow Creek. The simple questions of how the massacre occurred, why it was carried out, and who perpetrated the incident dominated archaeological inquiry. Interpretations of the cultural processes leading to the massacre have only recently been addressed. An archaeological model of the massacre has been proposed (Zimmerman and Bradley 1985) which suggests that competition for arable lands was at least a contributory factor to the massacre. Zimmerman and Stewart (1985) examined the ecological model and found that it showed little of how a massacre actually happens. They proposed instead a natural history model to account for both the causes and processes of massacre which used five stages and was derived from analysis of five massacre episodes. In this paper, that model is used to build a scenario of what might have happened at the Crow Creek site in the early 14th century.
Zimmerman, Larry and Stewart, James R.
"An Application Of the Massacre Model To A 700 Year Old Mystery,"
Great Plains Sociologist: Vol. 4:
1, Article 3.
Available at: https://openprairie.sdstate.edu/greatplainssociologist/vol4/iss1/3