Digging the Boundary Waters
We know canoe campers love the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness but did you know archeologists dig it too? They’ve been digging it for awhile and finding interesting evidence of Paleo-Indians from over 11,000 years ago. This evidence would rewrite the history of Minnesota since the earliest inhabitants of northern Minnesota were thought to be the Ojibwe in the early 1600’s
The1999 Blowdown has allowed archeologists to explore sites on Knife Lake along the Minnesota Canadian border. Siltstone quarries and tool manufacturing sites have been discovered and one of the researchers from St. Cloud State University said, "“There are so many artifacts here that you
can’t stop finding it.”
This is certainly exciting news for archeologists who are interested in artifacts but some folks are questioning the US Forest Service’s decision to allow this type of activity inside the pristine Boundary Waters Canoe Area Widlerness. The USFS has a philosphy of "Leave only Footprints, Take only photos." in the BWCAW but for the sake of historical documentation it appears as though archeology work is an exception.
The archeologists claim they only have a little time before the forest will recover from the blowdown and new growth will cover the ancient sites. It sounds like there is plenty of evidence of earlier life in northern Minnesota and that’s why both canoeists and archeologists really dig the Boundary Waters.
Articles about Digging in the BWCA can be found online.