Village Farmers (600 - 1,000 years ago)
The Central Plains Villagers tradition is marked by a change in subsistence and material culture traits by local Woodland populations. The adaptation may have been caused by the ending of a moist climatic period, and consequent thinning of game and plant resources. Subsistence practices were altered by more intense use of small garden horticulture based largely on maize, beans, and squash. Although horticulture was an important addition to the people's subsistence, hunting and wild plant gathering was still pursued extensively. Sites consist primarily of occupations with isolated or small clusters of wattle and daub lodge ruins.The lodges were square to rectangular in floor plan, timber-framed with extended entranceways, and covered with a mixture of branches, grass, and mud plaster.
Pits for storage of food and tools are found below lodge floors. Pits were also used for trash disposal. Sites are usually located along streams, where suitable garden locations were available. Artifacts include a wide variety of pottery types. Vessels were globular, with rounded bottoms and decorated only on the rim areas. Vessels were not painted and most decoration consisted of geometric patterns of lines cut into the soft paste of the rims prior to firing. Also characteristic of this period are bow and arrow projectile points that are triangular, with hafting notches on the lower edge and sometimes on the bottom.
The Central Plains tradition has been divided into a number of regional groups or "phases." Among these are the St. Helena and Nebraska phases centered along the Missouri River, the Upper Republican phase along the Republican River, the Itskari phase in the Loup drainage, and the Smoky Hill phase in the Blue and Kansas River basins.