A collection of Indian stone artifacts from the Plateau (museum exhibit 218)

The area between the Cascade Mountains and the Rocky Mountains in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, British Columbia and western Montana is known as the Plateau Culture area. The Cashmere Museum in Cashmere, Washington has several exhibits of Native American artifacts collected from the Columbia River area of ​​central Washington. Below are some artifacts from Exhibit 218.


Flaked stone tools

Flaked stone tools are produced by flintknapping, a process in which the stone is broken to produce a cutting edge. Tools made by flint knapping include points (both spearheads and later arrowheads), knives, scrapers and other cutting tools.

The process of breaking stone into tools is not a random process: it is not simply a matter of hitting two stones together. The toolmaker takes a piece of stone and shapes it into a culturally acceptable shape. The same basic forms of tools always appear in a culture.



Above is a fairly typical way that collectors display points: both arrowheads and spearheads. The arrangement reflects the aesthetics of the collector rather than historical development.

In his book Flintknapping: making and understanding stone tools, John Whittaker writes:

“The pressure-flaked ‘arrowhead’ is the most distinctive American stone artifact. Even people who know nothing about prehistory recognize ‘arrowheads’.”

To be technically precise, these “arrowheads” are small, double-sided projectile points, some of which were used on arrows.

It should also be noted that stone projectile points often break and reform. This means that small arrowheads may have started out as larger arrowheads or as spearheads.


Stone pestles were used in food preparation. Nuts and seeds would be ground to produce flour; berries, fish and meat would be ground to produce pemmican.


Stone clubs

Although clubs are often classified as “war clubs,” the Plateau Indians were a fishing people and clubs were used to kill large fish caught in a net or snare.



Not identified


The artifacts shown above appear to be some paint palettes (the small stone bowls) and a pestle; some beads (on the right).





More old America

Ancient America: Stone Bowls from the Long Narrows of the Columbia River (museum exhibit)

Ancient America: The Prehistoric Southwest, 1375-1425 CE

Ancient America: A Very Brief Overview of Quarries

Ancient America: Columbia River Icons (photo diary)

Ancient America: A Very Brief Survey of the Mound Builders of Hopewell

Ancient America: Texas before 5000 B.C

Ancient America: The Ancient Copper People

Ancient America: The Atlatl and the Arch (Museum Exhibition)