The Wahtoke Creek Project was a major archaeological investigation at site CA-FRE-61 for the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) District 6, Fresno. Far Western had conducted test excavations at the site in 1992, with results published in California State University, Bakersfield’s Occasional Papers in Anthropology. Caltrans later requested that we conduct data recovery at the site as mitigation for their proposed bridge replacement at Wahtoke Creek.
Data recovery at CA-FRE-61 in 2012 included hand and mechanical excavation, geoarchaeological assessment, laboratory analyses, and preparation of a scientific report documenting our findings. The excavations yielded an incredibly large collection of stone tools and several caches of plant-processing implements dating to the Middle Holocene era. In the scientific report, authors Jeff Rosenthal and Adie Whitaker examine how the site fits into the archaeological record of the region, and of central California in general. They conclude that CA-FRE-61 was part of a distinct settlement and subsistence pattern probably oriented to the Central Valley, in contrast to the foothill-oriented pattern reflected at sites farther north.
The Wahtoke Creek Project also included innovative public interpretation, education, and tribal outreach products:
- An English/Choinumni dictionary produced in consultation with the local Native American community.
- A video recording of Choinumni Elder John Davis and his assistant Nicole Agredano reading all entries in the dictionary.
- A fourth-grade class curriculum, and a full-color illustrated children’s book of traditional Choinumni Yokuts and Mono stories, for use in Fresno area elementary schools, entitled In the Time when Animals were People by Sharon Waechter and illustrated by Tammara Norton.