by Daniel E. Schmidt, Editor-in-Chief
Put this down as the highlight of my daughter’s summer vacation. She was on a field trip to our local airport strip last week when she found a bona fide stone arrowhead. Amazingly, she didn’t even have to look for it. It was there in the dirt of an old road as she stepped off the bus to start the event. She told me that it caught her eye immediately because the sun was shining on it; she knew what it was because she had learned about American Indian artifacts in school earlier this year.
We live in Waupaca County, Wisconsin, which has a rich history of American Indians in culture, cuisine and town names. The City of Waupaca, in fact, was named after a great Potowatomi tribe Chief Sam Wapuka. The city was settled in June 1849.
Perhaps even more interesting is the fact that this area was first settled by American Indian burial mound builders. The rolling, wooded hills and numerous kettle lakes were no doubt the hunting grounds for centuries of bowhunters in search of white tailed deer. That tradition remains, as Waupaca County ranks near the top for monster bucks in the Wisconsin Buck and Bear Club record book.
Waupaca County was also home to Menomonee Indians. Both the Menomonee and the Potowatomi Indians were experts on deer and they were tremendous deer hunters and broadhead makers. Can you imagine a modern broadhead lasting in the topsoil for hundreds, if not thousands, of years?
Our next project is to learn more about American Indian culture in our region and to learn more about the possibly age of her find. We started by checking out the excellent website maintained by the Mississippi Valley Archaeology center at the University of Wisconsin LaCrosse. Initially, I tried to impress my daughter with my limited knowledge of Indian artifacts. My first guess was that the broadhead was made out of obsidian. I was wrong. Initial guesses are that this arrow head could be 1,800 to 2,500 years old and falls into the “Waubesa/Dickson” classification. Such arrow heads from this classification are almost always made from local chert or silicified sandstone.
If this lucky find teaches us anything, it will at least renew our interest in our local culture and history. We can’t wait to dig deeper into the topics. We will never know for sure which tribe this particular arrowhead came from, but I do know that we will never list it online where other Indian arrowheads for sale are shown! My daughter, bless her heart, wanted to trade it for an Ipod. That is a trade I will gladly make, because Dad is putting this in the safe deposit box so it can be returned to her at a time when she will appreciate it even more.
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Anyone eager to master survival skills for outdoor vacations, or simply to find a fun new family activity for a Saturday afternoon, will be educated and inspired by the practical advice presented in this book by archaeologists, anthropologists, primitive practitioners, craftsmen, and artisans.