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    Fort McCoy ArtiFACT: Copper bracelet

    Fort McCoy ArtiFACT: Copper bracelets

    Courtesy Photo | Copper bracelet fragments found at a Fort McCoy archaeological site are shown above....... read more read more



    Story by Aimee Malone 

    Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office           

    Several years ago, archaeologists with Colorado State University’s Center for the Environmental Management of Military Lands (CSU/CEMML) undertook an excavation unlike any previously performed at Fort McCoy.

    A tank trail crossing a small stream was badly eroding and required significant improvements to stabilize. Such stabilization would normally be strictly an engineering effort, except that archaeological materials had been recovered from all four corners around the intersection of the stream and trail area where a failed culvert needed to be replaced to stabilize the stream crossing.

    In fact, archaeological sites on three of the four corners had produced enough artifacts to lead investigators to recommend that the archaeological sites at these locations were worthy of listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

    Because these locations had significant scientific research potential for understanding the history and prehistory of the Fort McCoy area, the trail stabilization activities would have caused damage to the irreplaceable scientific information within those archaeological sites.

    Historic and archaeological sites are protected on federal lands like Fort McCoy. Consequently, damaging archaeological resources that are eligible for the National Register of Historic Places is prohibited by both federal and state laws.

    A plan was developed to mitigate the portions of the sites that would be impacted by the trail stabilization project through coordination among Fort McCoy Natural Resources Branch staff, Wisconsin State Historic Preservation officers, and CSU/CEMML cultural resources support staff. That plan was enacted in 2017. This allowed the trail stabilization to proceed as needed to sustain training activities while still salvaging the information about Fort McCoy’s rich history.

    The archaeological investigations involved the excavation of 127 square meters along the existing trail. Nearly 7,700 stone artifacts were recovered, including numerous projectile points (arrowheads or spear points) and other tools (knives and scraping tools for working on animal hides), along with thousands of pieces of other stone tool debris (material removed during fashioning of stone tools and projectile points).

    More than 150 prehistoric Native American-made pottery fragments were also recovered. Most of the artifacts recovered from the sites were ancient and dated to sometime between 1000 B.C. to A.D. 1000, depending on the individual artifact, but one of the most surprising recoveries from the 2017 excavation was the recovery of a unique pair of copper bracelet fragments .

    Examples of Fur Trade-era goods recovered elsewhere through the Upper Midwest region and dated to sometime between the middle of the 18th century and the early 19th century (A.D 1750-1830) very closely resemble these bracelet fragments. Copper artifacts recovered on Fort McCoy are rare but not unheard of and usually represent prehistoric projectile points or knives made by Native Americans using copper from the Lake Superior area.

    These copper bracelet fragments, and the associated recovery of trade beads and flints from flintlock firearms at the site demonstrate Native American presence at Fort McCoy in the time just before the first European settlers began to move into the area and add to our understanding of daily life at Fort McCoy roughly 100-150 years before the installation was established. It is likely these artifacts reflect an early 1800-1830s era camp of Ho-Chunk tribal members, as the Ho-Chunk Nation had nearby villages at what would become the Bangor and Tomah areas during this period.

    A scientific article highlighting these bracelet fragments, trade beads, and other related artifacts discovered at Fort McCoy was recently published in the 101st volume of The Wisconsin Archeologist, a research journal published by the Wisconsin Archeological Society since 1903.

    All archaeological work conducted at Fort McCoy was coordinated by the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch.

    Visitors and employees are reminded they should not collect artifacts on Fort McCoy or other government lands and leave the digging to the professionals.

    Any person who excavates, removes, damages, or otherwise alters or defaces any historic or prehistoric site, artifact, or object of antiquity on Fort McCoy is in violation of federal law.

    The discovery of any archaeological artifact should be reported to the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch at 608-388-8214.

    (Article prepared by the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch.)



    Date Taken: 01.14.2022
    Date Posted: 01.14.2022 15:57
    Story ID: 412940
    Location: FORT MCCOY, WI, US 

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