Palmer Lake—Stone Tools

9,600 years ago, a small group trekked across the North Cascades, then turned north.

The Ice Age had ended. Towering mountains of ice had melted forming vast lakes which sent their waters 300 miles into the Pacific Ocean.

The People needed to avoid the rushing meltwaters, and so they headed north, away from their destructive power.

Some miles up the Cascades, they found Palmer Lake. The lake lay up against Chopaka Mountain.  Streams trickled off the mountain watering a rich wetlands below. The people had found a place to survive!

Food and Medicine plants revealed themselves.

Birds and their eggs, mollusks, antlered animals  – fed them.

They would survive and endure.


Beyond Palmer Lake, around the bend in the upper Similkameen River country,  a special type of stone was buried in deep beds.

You may know the mineral obsidian.  Often black or red, it is extremely sharp, sharp enough to be used for surgery.

The science of it is wiki awesome. Obsidian is a cryptocrystalline silicate, wickedly sharp because of its concoidal structure, a structure which is an essential characteristic of the stone used in Stone Age tool making.

Flint Knapping – using cryptocrystalline rock, is the basis of making stone tools.  Flakes are chipped by a precise technolgy. Imagine the handsome and lethal technolgy of mammoth killing Clovis points.

The first settlements of stone age people were at sites where they found tool making stone.

Palmer Lake people would have discovered the quarry at Stirling Creek, a tributary to the upper Similkameen River.

The crystalline stone found there was the earliest known source of stone age rock in the Interior Plateau of the Pacific Northwest.

From Palmer Lake to Flathead Lake, indigenous peoples, with their tools of stone,  survived and prospered.

© 2018—Jeré Gillespie

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