May 032011
Authors: Allison Knaus

More than 10,000 years ago, Native Americans crossed through Northern Colorado. Today, Dr. Jason LaBelle and CSU archaeology students work to document locations of historical evidence left behind.

LaBelle, director of the Center for Mountain and Plains Archaeology and CSU professor, spoke to a packed crowd of 80 people at the City of Fort Collins Community Room in Old Town Tuesday night.

The event featured different natural areas throughout Colorado but specifically examined Fort Collins’ own Lindenmeir Site at the Soapstone Prairie natural area just north of Fort Collins. Since 2006, LaBelle has surveyed the Lindenmeir Folsom Site in attempts to better understand the Laramie Foothill Mountains.

“There is extensive and diverse human history being explored at the Lindenmeir site,” LaBelle said.

Named a National Historic Landmark, excavations in the 1930s by the Smithsonian and the Colorado Museum of Natural History of the Lindenmeir Site gave archaeologists insights to the ancient Folsom culture, a Paleo-Indian sequence dating between 9000 BC and 8000 BC.

According to LaBelle, Lindenmeir is the New York City of Folsom sites.

“It’s a very unique and distinct site being located directly halfway between Canada and Mexico,” LaBelle said.

Discovered were lots of decorative arts including beads, stone tools and jewelry. The discovery of art-related artifacts led archaeologists to determine the Folsom people traveling through the Lindenmeir Site had substantial downtime.

“The time and effort put into these crafts makes us understand that these people lived at the Lindenmeir Site for an extended period of time,” LaBelle said.

Fort Collins residents came out in large numbers to learn about the historic landmark and what it has to offer for outdoor activity.

Retired chemistry professor and Fort Collins resident, Kenneth DeBruin said he has always been interested in archaeology despite his science background.

“A lot of people are just finding out about Lindenmeir, and I wanted to learn about the historical context and how the area can be utilized today,” DeBruin said.

With dozens of natural area parks in Colorado, LaBelle said the Lindenmeir Site is unique for its sheer quantity of materials and some of the earliest and best evidence for decoration in the world.

Also in attendance at the event was Deborah Price, an educator for the natural areas program. Price said she came for both personal and professional reasons but was mostly interested in learning more about the site.

“It’s fascinating to learn about past culture, and I wanted to find out as much as possible from LaBelle so I can pass on a wealth of knowledge about the area,” she said.

Currently, CSU archaeology students are working on the east side of the Lindenmeir Site and are examining ‘then and now’ photography of the area to document locations of artifacts.

Staff writer Allison Knaus can be reached at

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