The banks of Cypress Creek in northwest Harris County that now back up to numerous subdivisions and businesses served a different purpose thousands of years ago as the home of Akokisa Indians.
In 2009, Moore Archeological Consulting in Houston conducted an excavation on Cypress Creek for the Harris County Flood Control District and discovered about 2,000 artifacts that once belonged to members of the Akokisa tribe. Most of the items found were stone tools, arrow points and pottery shards.
“It’s a pretty large site,” said David Driver, archeologist. “The amount of artifacts found was standard for that kind of extensive excavation.”
The oldest materials unearthed during the excavation date back to 8,100 B.C., but most of the artifacts are from two phases: the early ceramic period, which ran from 8,100 B.C. to 800, or the late ceramic period from 800 to when the Europeans arrived, according to Driver.
There was also evidence that an earlier presence of Native American life lived near the excavation location. When work was done to get a handle on how deposits were laid down in the creek, a Paleo-Indian spear point that dates back to 8,000 B.C. was discovered.
“[Akokisas] didn’t really start to occupy the site heavily enough until much later,” Driver said. “It takes a long time for people to come back year after year to build up the kind of deposits that make up archeological sites.”
Before Europeans settled in Texas, the Akokisas dwelled throughout the greater Houston area in five villages by the mid-1700s. The Akokisas were hunters and gatherers and nomads, and they fished along the upper coast of Galveston Bay during the summer before moving inland for the winter.
“They would move farther away to an area that hadn’t been picked over, depending on the seasonality of the food,” Driver said. “They moved around within each group’s territory.”
Driver hoped to discover more information about foods the Akokisas ate because cooking hearths were found during the excavation.
“Unfortunately there weren’t [food]remains, but there was remains of oak,” he said. “They probably used oak [to cook]but no plants or animals.”
Although thousands of artifacts were found during the initial dig, the entire site has not yet been excavated. Additionally, the exact site location was not revealed, due to restrictions from the Texas Historic Commission, in case an expansion is done at the same location in the future, according to Driver.
“There were still portions of the site that weren’t going to be destroyed by the initial construction,” he said. “We wanted to leave that area alone to preserve it for the future.”
Source: Jones Park Talk: “The Archeology of Spring Creek” by Roger G. Moore