University of Minnesota
Department of Anthropology



Yonkee is a Late Plains Archaic point type associated with the terminal phase of the widespread McKean complex. (Bentzen 1962b; Roll 1998)

Description: Unreworked Yonkee points have a long, thin lanceolate form with a short, eared stem (Bentzen 1962b; Frison 1978:55, 204). Shoulders tend to be sharp and slightly barbed, and are straight or slanted slightly downward. A deep, narrow indentation at the base of the stem produces the eared effect. Yonkee points are usually made of local materials.

Distribution: This point type is widely distributed over the Northern Plains and in adjacent areas, although their distribution may be more restricted than other McKean complex point types (McKean, Duncan, Mallory, Hanna). Yonkee points have been reported from both North and South Dakota. While no Yonkee points have been identified in Minnesota, small numbers should be present in the extreme western part of the state.

Age and Associations: A Late Archaic, or Late Plains Archaic or Late Prehistoric period, point type, Yonkee points are present in western North Dakota from ca. 1300 to 800 BC (Gregg and Davidson 1985:109). It is a diagnostic of the terminal phase of the widespread and long-lasting McKean complex, which has been variously dated between ca. 3000 and 500 B.C. Dates for the Maurakis-Bentzen-Roberts site in northern Wyoming are ca. 650 and 510 B.C. (Bentzen 1962a; Frison 1978:47). A date for the Yonkee component at the Moudrian Tree site (32MZ58) of ca. 800 B.C. supports Syms (1970:131) suggestion that the McKean complex persisted as late as 1000 to 600 B.C. in the most northern parts of the Northern Plains. Deaver and Deaver (1988) and Roll (1998) date Yonkee between about 1000 and 500 B.C. Both the Yonkee and Hanna point types could overlap with the initial phases of the Pelican Lake phase, which existed from about 1000 B.C. to A.D. 500 (Frison 1992:101-111; Foor 1998).

Comments: Yonkee points are mainly associated with a subsistence economy focally adapted to bison hunting in the Northern Plains, where Yonkee bison kills are found (e.g., Bentzen 1962b). People making Yonkee points in Minnesota may have lived in small family groups in this region during the colder months and in larger aggregations of people on the grasslands to the west, where they hunted bison, during the warmer months. Yonkee sites in the state are expected, therefore, to be the remnants of small, shallow, temporary camps in which a narrow tool inventory was used.

Similar and Identical Types: There is some stylistic overlap between some McKean complex point types, which include McKean, Mallory, Duncan, Hanna, Yonkee, and several unnamed varieties. Yonkee and Hanna points are the most easily confused of these types.