- Associated Press - Thursday, June 4, 2015

ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - Archaeologists from across the country are in south-central Kansas this week searching for artifacts to confirm that a five-mile stretch of land once was home to a Native American tribe of 20,000 people.

Volunteers have found small pieces of tools and pottery in a dusty field in Arkansas City, about 60 miles south of Wichita, that are believed to be from a settlement discovered by Spanish explorer Juan De Onate in 1601, television station KAKE (https://bit.ly/1QsAT0j ) reported.

Another group working nearby with a sensor that detects magnetic fields has found what it believes to be homes, storage areas and a dancing ground.

A third side a few roads away is believed to be where Spanish explorers battled a Native American tribe. One volunteer uncovered a small iron ball that may be from a shotgun-like cannon round that the explorers would have used in their fight against the Native Americans.

Anything that’s discovered is sent to a mobile research lab run by Paleo Research Institute Inc. The group will perform a series of tests that can help reveal to researchers more about the people behind the items.

“We want that peek into peoples’ lives,” said the institute’s director, Linda Scott Cummings. “I love making the human side of the story come out.”

Local residents hope the findings help the area become one of the country’s major historic sites. Hap Mcleod, who owns part of the land that’s being studied, believes the researchers’ efforts will support what the community has known for years.

“All this does is confirm what everybody’s known for a long time and put a story to it,” Mcleod said. “Here we can prove that academically.”

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Information from: KAKE-TV.

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