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Archeological dig prepares for Three Island Park picnic shelter construction

Michelle Terrell, principal archeologist and historian with Two Pines Resource Group, and Jammi Lugwig, field technologist with Two Pines, excavate prehistoric artifacts from a dig at Three Island Park Wednesday. The Archeologist will spend the week exploring the Beltrami County park prior to construction of a picnic shelter. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

Fish vertebrae and turtle bones, bits of charcoal and shards of pottery - all evidence the Three Island Park picnic area has been in use for something like 1,000 years.

"It's sandy loam. It's nice digging," said Michelle Terrell, principal archeologist and historian with Two Pines Resource Group.

Terrell and Jammi Ludwig, field technician with Two Pines, began a five-day dig Monday prior to Beltrami County's improvements at the Three Island Park picnic grounds.

"Our job is to give them a sense of archeology," said Terrell. "Obviously, this was a fishing place then, as it is now."

Terrell said the dig started with postholes about every 30 feet on a grid to test the site for artifacts.

"Almost all of them had something in them," she said.

She said the densest concentration of bone fragments and potsherds is between the lake and the entrance road. Other parts of the site are marshy and were less used. She said the camps were probably seasonal for fishing, and, possibly, ricing.

Terrell said the pottery patterns show that the indigenous people who used the area were from the Woodland Period, and the pottery is Blackduck Ware from 800 A.D. to 1400 A.D. During the Woodland Period, ceramics and true bow-and-arrow technology show up, she said. Earlier cultures used darts and spears, weapons with bigger points.

The Archeologist also record "features," their term for artifacts such as rice storage holes, trash pits and hearths that can't be taken from the site.

The individuals digs themselves are about 3 feet square. The Archeologist take the soil down to about 1 foot by removing 3 inches of soil at a time.

Terrell said the stone tools and chips they have found are made of rocks found this area.

"They were able to get a lot of good materials for making stone tools from local glacial till," she said.