The Deadfall – Illustrated
With Archaeology and Historic Preservation month in full swing, we thought it might be interesting to explore one of the ways the early residents of Iron County caught food: the Paiute deadfall trap. This type of trap is named after the native Paiute peoples – nomadic hunters and gatherers who depended on wild plants and animals. But these simple types of traps have been used for thousands of years by people across the world.
Animal trapping, or simply trapping, is the use of a device to remotely catch an animal. Animals may be trapped for a variety of purposes, including food and pest control. Trapping also facilitates the capture of animals for their furs which may be sold or bartered for other useful items, or which may be used for making clothing and other articles.
A deadfall is a heavy rock or log that is tilted on an angle and held up with sections of branches (sticks), with one of them that serves as a trigger. When the animal moves the trigger that has bait on or near it, the rock or log falls, crushing the animal. The Paiute deadfall is a popular and simple trap constructed from materials found in nature (three sticks with notches cut into them, cordage, plus a heavy rock or other heavy object). Next time you visit Frontier Homestead, test your skills and see how long it takes for you to set this trap.
Next Time: Atl-atl
Map of the planned Native Heritage Exhibit.
Iron County and Cedar City have a long cultural history, including that of Native peoples dating back thousands of years prior to the arrival of European settlers. Before pioneers arrived in Southwest Utah, there were a number of different American Indian groups who lived here: 1) Paleo-Indians, 2) Archaic people, 3) the Ancestral Pueblo (Anasazi), 4) the Fremont, and 5) the Numic (Paiute). The Paleo-Indians were the oldest, going back 12,000 years, followed by Archaic hunter and gatherers, the Ancestral Pueblo, and the Fremont culture. The most recent are the Numic who arrived between 500-700 years ago and are still living here. At Frontier Homestead, these traditions are represented by the Paiute camp and surrounding area that is dedicated to telling the story of these early peoples.
The Native Heritage Exhibit, a new area of Frontier Homestead State Park & Museum, will allow each visitor the chance to experience how Native peoples lived in Iron County prior to Euroamerican settlement. Additionally, students will be able to become archaeologists for the day, learning techniques and methods of the archaeological process.
The pithouse under construction.
Explore the Fremont pit house and the Paiute wickiups, see a traditional shade shelter and Native garden, all set among native vegetation and replica prehistoric village mounds.
This project is a joint effort of the Frontier Homestead Museum Foundation, The Archaeological Conservancy, Southern Utah University, Project Archaeology, and Cedar City RAP Tax.
Next Time: Paiute Deadfall Trap
Corn grinding will be one of the activities available.