The floodplain rise on which the Highland Creek site sits was an attractive spot for establishing a long-term camp. The resource-rich floodplain locale offered access to diverse food resources and to the raw materials Native peoples needed for making stone tools. These natural resources may have drawn Native groups to this locale, and encouraged them to stay for longer periods. In time, this effectively changed the way site residents interacted with their neighbors and with the land.
Most of the nutshell from the site was hickory and black walnut, but residents also ate acorn, pecan, butternut, and hazelnut. Nuts are a high-yield resource: nutritious, calorie-dense, and an excellent source of protein.
Processing nuts into food involves intensive preparation. Residents had to crack, grind, boil, and heat the nuts before they could make nut oil or nut cakes for later use. They used stone-boiling techniques in nut processing - in which stones are placed into or near a fire/hearth until the stones are hot, then the stones are quickly placed into a water-filled container, which causes the liquid to boil. Use of this technique by residents likely accounts for the presence of hearths at the site, fire-cracked rocks, and the large amounts of burnt clay and carbonized nut shell investigators recovered. Nut harvesting and repeated seasonal nut processing were among the main reasons Native peoples repeatedly returned to the Highland Creek site.