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Nebraska's Earliest Documented Burial

A distinct group of prehistoric hunter-gatherers known to archeologists as the Oxbow
Complex once occupied the northern High Plains from western Nebraska to southern
Canada. About 2500 B.C. a band of Oxbow people interred two of their own near here. The
skeletal remains, found eroding from a road cut, were covered with red ocher and buried in
a semi-flexed position. This interment of a young adult male and an infant in a single grave
represents Nebraska's earliest documented burial.

The Oxbow people participated in an extensive North American trade network. Copper from
the Great Lakes and shells from the Atlantic Coast have been found at Oxbow sites. Exotic
objects accompanying the Sidney burial included a neck ornament made from a turtle shell,
raven bones, freshwater mussel shells, a large stone knife of local Kimball chert, and five
amazonite pendants. The closest source of amazonite, which resembles turquoise, is the
Pike's Peak region of Colorado.

Jim and Becky Haddix of Sidney are credited with the 1992 discovery and subsequent
preservation effort. The remains and associated funerary objects were reinterred in the
Sidney cemetery.

City of Sidney
Cheyenne County Visitors' Committee
Nebraska State Historical Society, 2011

West side of Fort Sidney Rd between Toledo St & Deaver Dr, Sidney
Cheyenne County
Marker 493


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Last updated 3 December 2012

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