Results of the 1997 Notre Dame Field School

The Bennac Village, 1997

The Bennac Village site is a historic site that is now located within a private wildlife park. This historic village was inhabited by Potawatomi Indians and Roman Catholic "metis" (mixed French Canadian/Native American) around A.D. 1830. The field work located a prehistoric camp dating around A.D. 1300 and the possible site of a cabin.

The location of the Bennac Village site was first recorded by land surveyors in 1834. The village location is depicted by the cluster of triangles near the northern-most loop in the river (highlighted here with a red box). An important local trail passed through the village because the river could be forded at that point.

The site is now part of a nature preserve but it was farmed for many years. The first year's investigations (in 1996) were designed to determine if the site had been destroyed. Most of the site has returned to natural vegetation or is maintained in grass. The 1996 investigations included mapping, shovel probing, magnetic surveys, and test excavations. The test excavations were concentrated in a field at the south end of the site. The 1997 investigations consisted of magnetic and resistivity surveys of most of the south field, surface surveys of wildlife food plots, and the excavation of four units to test geophysical anomalies identified during the geophysical surveys.

Investigations in 1997 concentrated on the southern end of the Potawatomi Wildlife Park in a field south of the Nature Center and the Manager's Cabin.

The geophysical surveys covered an area 80 m by 40 meters (total area of 3,200 m2). The magnetometer survey used sample intervals (spacing between data points) of 0.25 m in the E-W direction and transect intervals (spacing in the N-S direction) of 0.5 m to collect 25,600 data points). The extremely intense magnetic anomalies are historic and modern features. Excavation units were placed to test areas with small metallic scatters and to test a weak, diffuse magnetic anomaly (indicated with the letters A to D in the figure below). The geophysical maps were made with TNT-Lite from Microimages after pre-filtering.

Magnetic Survey Results:

There was no magnetic anomaly below the letter "D". This team tested an area of unusually low soil restivity. A similar area, seen as a blue patch near the upper center, was not tested. The other blue and purple areas, characteristic of very low soil resitivity, correlate very well with the modern features on the magnetic map. The purple area in the lower right hand corner is at the bottom of a hill and very near the bank of the Tippecanoe River. The low resistance here is caused by high soil moisture.

Resistivity Survey Results:

The surface collections in the food plots located several historic artifact scatters. Two of the historic surface scatters produced artifacts dating to the Bennac era.

Glazed brick and pottery fragments dating to early 19th century were found in the surface scatters.

Investigations in 1998 will complete the geophysical surveys of the south field, extend the geophysical surveys into the food plots, and conduct test excavations in the historic scatters found in 1997.

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