Four seasons of excavation at the Fredricks site have resulted in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of a sample of plant remains drawn from most of the site's exposed features. The data on plant use at Fredricks have been drawn from all areas of the site and from all represented feature types. Although only a small percentage of soil excavated at the Fredricks site was processed by flotation, a systematic sampling procedure was implemented in order to provide a reasonably representative subsample of deposits containing plant remains.

This report presents the findings of the 1986 field season and also summarizes the paleoethnobotany of the Fredricks site to date. Each season has added data needed to answer the research questions formulated at the outset of the Siouan Project. These include the following: what was the overall pattern of plant use of Fredricks site inhabitants during its brief period of occupancy? Specifically, what kinds of plant foods were used, and in what proportions? What European-introduced plant species found a place in the aboriginal subsistence system?

Other questions have proved more elusive, but are being explored with some success as data accumulate. These are related to changes in aboriginal subsistence that may have been stimulated by contact with Europeans, particularly through the medium of trade. The influence of trade was apparently felt both through introduction of artifacts and, more indirectly, in the effects of the European quest for hides and furs. European economic pursuits may have encouraged changes in aboriginal scheduling of subsistence activities both intentionally or unintentionally, as was the case for the Huron of the Northeast (Hunt 1967). Even more difficult to assess using archaeological evidence are the effects that population decrease on either a regional or local level may have had on the organization of subsistence activities, including agriculture and collection of non-cultigens such as acorns and hickory nuts.

Answering such complex questions about change will require at minimum additional data from pre-contact sites. However, the excavations at Fredricks have been complete enough to allow for construction of a descriptive account of plant use at that site. In addition, these data, in conjunction with ethnohistoric sources, have made possible a tentative reconstruction of the Fredricks site group's scheduling of subsistence activities (see Gremillion 1986). At the same time new questions have arisen about the extent of trade specialization at the site and the sources of food remains found in archaeological deposits there. Whether or not Fredricks site inhabitants grew and collected all or most of the plant foods represented archaeologically is a question that may be unanswerable on the basis of present evidence.

Nevertheless, a number of questions about plant use at this site have been answered, and this report will summarize those findings. The present assessment of the data includes revisions of some of the seed identifications made in previous years (Gremillion 1986, 1987) and brings up to date absolute quantities of various types of plant food remains, as well as relative measures of their occurrence. The relevance of these paleoethnobotanical data to more complex questions about European contact, culture change, and plant use also will be discussed.