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Some distinctive traits of this early late phase included leaf-shaped and stemmed projectile points, charmstones, bone sweat scrapers, a predominance of Olivella split shell beads over Olivella disk beads, clay-lined roasting pits, and flexed burials. The later protohistoric period, which Wedel suggested may have begun about A. 1500 or 1600, was an outgrowth of the earlier phase and had a larger variety of traits which showed strong influence from the coastal culture of the Santa Barbara region. Archaeology of the Southern San Joaquin Valley, California. Wedel discussed the possible relationship of the early Buena Vista complex with the Windmiller complex of the Sacramento Valley and with the Oak Grove culture of the Santa Barbara coast and concluded that most specifically early Buena Vista resembled the Oak Grove culture. California Cultures and the Concept of an Archaic Stage. Wedel (197) also offered his impression that Windmiller was "a later and considerably more developed phase than that suggested by the lower-level remains at Buena Vista." Wedel also commented that without corroborative evidence his guess was that nothing revealed by the Smithsonian excavations had an antiquity "much, if any, in excess of 1,200-1,500 years" (Wedel 195).
The work was organized and financed by the Civil Works Administration as a means of reducing unemployment during the Great Depression and the location was selected due to its mild winter climate and proximity to "abundant unemployed labor," for the most part oil-field workers from nearby industrial towns (Wedel 1941:1-2). Wedel, then a graduate student in anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. The two shell middens excavated by Smithsonian workers, Wedel's Sites 1 and 2, were also located within this occupation zone and were undoubtedly the two largest and probably most important concentrations of midden along the two mile stretch. Wedel's Site 1 is at the approximate midpoint of the two mile stretch adjacent to a major drainage, while Site 2 was at the extreme eastern end of the stretch on a long, narrow sand bar. Coyote Press Archives of California Prehistory -81, 1986. At the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley, an area whose scant rainfall averages less than six inches annually, the Kern River, in the process of depositing its annual burden of sediment as if flowed westward from the Sierra, created a broad natural dam across the end of valley.