Wolf Creek Indian Village and Museum

Location: Bastian, Virginia

Webpage: Museum

General Description: During the construction of Interstate 77 in 1970, they planned to shift Wolf Creek over to make room for the Bastion, Virginia exit.  Local resident Wayne Richardson contacted the state archeologist with knowledge about an old Indian village on the site.  The construction of the interstate was delayed for one month while a team of archeologists uncovered and mapped the entire site of the village.  In 1992, the community decided to create a museum dedicated to the history of the first Native American people who called the mountains of Bland County home.  In 1996 they began reconstruction of the village according to the map created by the archeologists.  Unfortunately, they could not use the original location as most of the site was now under Wolf Creek alongside the interstate.  Rather they relocated the village a few hundred yards away and built the village, construction of which continues today.  While very little is known of the Native Americans that lived here, carbon dating places occupation at 1480-1520.  It is not clear what Native American tribe these inhabitants belonged to and why they left after only 40 years is not known.  The archaeological catalog includes eleven skeletons, the remains of eleven circular buildings or wigwams, some storage huts and fire pits.

brochure

Impressions:

1) The museum has a few exhibits about the Native American cultures of that time, along with artifacts found at the site and a three dimensional model of the village.

museum

2) While the museum is nice, the main attraction of the site is the reconstructed Indian Village.  They provide guided tours of the village on demand, which during the middle of the week after school has started, meant we were treated to a personalized tour.  Our tour guide was very friendly and full of energy.  We really enjoyed our nearly two hour tour of the village, which was suppose to last only about an hour.

3) They have reconstructed all of the 11 huts according to the archeological records and discussions with the oral traditions of Native Americans in the area.  Originally they used poles and bark to construct the huts, however, they learned that the building material was more likely to be river cane with woven mats hung on the inside during the winter.  However, since river cane is not as plentiful as it once was, they have used bamboo to simulate the huts.

palisade

4) The village was surrounded by a palisade with poles set about a foot apart and offset from each other.  They would have finished this with branches and vines woven between the posts.  While not the best defensive structure it would have served to keep animals out and the children in.  The entrance to the palisade was achieved by limiting access on a narrow path between the palisade and a guard house.  They are currently debating whether this was just a guard house or a combination of a guard house and steam room.

bamboohut

5) There are a number of burials scattered around the village, mostly just outside one of the huts.  While these burials are not a common for many of the Native American cultures in the area, they are not unheard of and are part of the reason they are not sure what culture this village belongs to.

burials

6) Along with a description of the huts and what is known of their lifestyle, they have created a number of stations in the huts for demonstrations.  For instance, our guide demonstrated food preparation and cooking techniques, flint knapping, and the preparation of animal pelts.