Dr. Robert Salzer's archeological research at Gottschall

In Spring 2004, Dr. Robert Salzer gave a lecture at the University of Illinois. Dr. Salzer is now a retired professor of archeology who taught at Beloit College for 38 years, during which time he directed 34 archeological field schools for his students. His most famous research project is at the Gotschall Site in Wisconsin. His ongoing research reveals that this site contains a long series of human occupations going back at least 1,200 years.

The cave contains artwork, which depicts a number of characters found in contemporary Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) oral tradition.
Dr. Salzer’s work with members of the Ho-Chunk nation in Wisconsin illustrates the fruits of collaboration between archeologists and Native Americans.

Clip 1: Dr. Salzer introduces the Gotschall site, noting that it was first thought to be a shallow rock shelter. Using the Ho-Chunk Nation’s Ground Penetrating Radar program, they discovered it was actually a deeper cave. Dr. Salzer discusses the “disconnect” between archeological knowledge and Native American perspectives.

Click here to view Clip 1.

Clip 2: Dr. Salzer introduces some technical terms –"anthrosed," and "core ritual"–as well as the names of some of the Indian nations of the area. He notes that the Ho-Chunk, Ioway, Otoe & Missouri, and Dakota nations all speak languages of the Siouan language family, in contrast to the other nations of the region who speak languages of the Algonquian family.

Click here to view Clip 2.

Clip 3: “What is a Cultural Landscape?” Dr. Salzer discusses this term as a concept that bridges the objectives of both anthropologists and Native Americans. He describes the non-profit agency “Cultural Landscape Legacies Inc” (clli.org) a collaborative venture with the Ho-chunk nation....

Click here to view Clip 3.

Clip 4: Dr. Salzer describes the Effigy Mound Tour –one of the ventures of Cultural Landscape Legacies Inc. that is strongly supported by the Ho-chunk nation.

Click here to view Clip 4.

Clip 5: Using slides taken inside the Gotschall Cave, Dr. Salzer describes and explains their exciting findings.

Click here to view Clip 5.

Clip 6: The Gotschall site was later vandalized by a looter, which provoked action by the Wisconsin legislature to increase legal penalties for looting or defacing ancient sites such as Gotschall.

Click here to view Clip 6.

Clip 7: Dr. Salzer describes the techniques used to enhance the badly eroded rock art in order to investigate it further. There appear to be human figures, animal figures and spiritual beings represented. But how do we interpret it? The literature of the Ho-Chunk and Ioway nations, written down by anthropologists in the 19th century (in English and Ho-Chunk) provides some clues – especially the Legend of Red Horn. Ho-Chunk elders also visited the site and recognized the figures.

Click here to view Clip 7.

Clip 8: Dr. Salzer tells part of The Legend of Red Horn and discusses linguistic contributions from Ho-Chunk elders that shed light on the puzzle.

Click here to view Clip 8.

Clip 9: Another story -- Red Horn and his two friends, Turtle and Storms-as-he-walks, confront giants.

Click here to view Clip 9.

Clip 10: Dr. Salzer makes exciting connections between the legends and the drawings in the Cave!

Click here to view Clip 10.


Back to the Online Essays




   Department of Anthropology
   copyright © 2002 University of Illinois, All rights reserved.
Questions and Comments to Brenda Farnell