This report is essentially an archeological survey of northeastern Minnesota’s coastal region, for which little is known about prehistoric human occupation. The authors first conducted a literature review, then carried out field investigations at 34 sites in 2010. Most of the sites were already known, and only four new sites suggesting historic use or habitation were found, all in Jay Cooke State Park. The study focused on sites that were not far from water. The report describes archeological and GIS methods used to select and explore the sites. The authors conclude that some progress has been made in contributing to a historical database for the region, but that much more remains to be discovered about prehistoric occupation on the Lake Superior shoreline. Key sections of the report are extracted and reproduced below. Summary: "This project was designed to add to our knowledge of Region 9, which was poorly known as a result of relatively few previously recorded. Four objectives were stated for the project to be conducted in three tasks. A summary of what is currently known about the prehistoric occupation of the region was the first task. Both literature and collections review were specifically included as sources. Updating the State Archaeologist site files for known sites and locating new sites was the second task, including both checking on sites reported by private collectors and new survey. The fourth objective was to develop a narrative predictive model of prehistoric site location for agency managers prehistoric archaeological sites (a total of 34). The field survey for new sites, most of which had to be conducted in fall 2010 before the ground froze, focused on a GIS compilation of several environmental factors previously thought to be important predictors of prehistoric site locations: distance to water (50 and 100 m) and slope (5%, 7%, 10%). Where possible, information on shoreline features from glacial lakes was also incorporated. Factors of access and land ownership (public lands preferable) were also compiled. Specific locations were then selected by the field archaeologist, drawing on decades of experience. Survey followed standard procedures, mainly shovel testing but pedestrian walkover where possible. Only four new archaeological sites were located, all in Jay Cooke State Park and all initially found by surface finds in Park trails. “Most of the areas selected for survey (County and City lands in St. Louis County, Split Rock Lighthouse State Park in Lake County, Judge Magney State Park in Cook County) were either negative or untestable. Concurrently with preparation for new survey, informant reports of new sites were recorded and, where possible, field verified in fall 2010. The response from members of the local archaeological society was overwhelming; over three dozen leads were given, about half for prehistoric sites and half for historic sites that might have prehistoric components. Additional site leads were supplied from members of the general public who heard of the project from media releases or by word of mouth. Although some site leads were either natural items or outside the Region 9 boundary, several prehistoric sites were recorded from this source. The data from both sources suggest that sites in Region 9 do tend to correlate to water, both past and present; however, specific numerical values for environmental variables are not as productive as viewing topography in the field. Areas of low slope are also high potential but not all flat area near water have site materials. Areas of low to no potential would include areas of steep slope (but not all area greater than 10% slope), water saturation (both permanent and seasonal), and/or areas at far distances from water (although quantitative measures are not firm). Much more research needs to be conducted to understand the pre-Contact occupation of the region, as well as develop a better predictive model of site location."
Duluth Archaeology Center Report No. 11-22. Duluth: Duluth Archeology Center.
Mulholland, Susan C; Mulholland, Stephen L; Hamilton, Jennifer R; Stark, Stacey.
Points and Pits: Archaeological Investigations in Minnesota’s Region 9, the Lake Superior Shore, Carlton, Cook, Lake, and St. Louis Counties, Minnesota.
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