CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Darla Spencer, registered professional archaeologist, will present "Early Native Americans in West Virginia: The Fort Ancient Culture" in the Archives and History Library at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston on Thursday, April 20. The program begins at 6:00 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

The hills and valleys of what is now West Virginia were occupied by native people long before the first Europeans entered the Ohio Valley. Since Europeans came to the area in the 1700s, historians,
ethnologists, and archaeologists have struggled to identify the people who once lived here. For many
years, West Virginia was described as an "Indian hunting ground" with no long-term occupations by early native people. However, it is now known that people hunted and inhabited the state for at least 10,000 years before the arrival of Europeans. Along the major rivers, farmers cannot plow their fields without exposing stone tools and other evidence of the native people who once lived here.

The people known as Fort Ancient occupied the Ohio Valley including southern West Virginia between approximately A.D. 1000 and sometime in the late 1600s. Spencer’s presentation will describe what is currently known about the Fort Ancient people in West Virginia and their culture, including how and where they lived, and show some of the material culture or artifacts they left behind.

Darla Spencer has researched the archaeology and early Native American history of West Virginia for more than 20 years. In 2002, she was awarded the Sigfus Olafson Award of Merit by the West Virginia Archeological Society (WVAS) for her contributions to West Virginia archaeology. Spencer is secretary and treasurer of the WVAS and a member of the board of directors of the Council for West Virginia Archaeology. Her first book on the Fort Ancient culture of West Virginia was published in 2016.

Patrons may park behind the Culture Center after 5 p.m. on April 20 and enter the building at the back loading dock area. There also is limited handicapped parking available in the new bus turnaround.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an agency within the Office of Secretary of Education and the Arts with Gayle Manchin, cabinet secretary. The division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the division’s programs, events and sites, visit The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.