Pottery of the Past Provides Clues
Pieces of pottery and other artifacts tell archaeologists that Native Americans have lived along the shores of the Turtle River and Three Island Lake for thousands of years. Because the ways in which Native Americans decorated and made their pottery changed over time, archaeologists can tell when people lived at a site from the types of pottery, or "wares," that they find.
During excavations in the park, archaeologists have found three different types of pottery: Brainerd, Blackduck, and Sandy Lake. Note how they are different from one another.
Sandy Lake Ware (AD 1100-1750)
The makers of Sandy Lake ware added crushed mussel shell to the clay used to make their pots. Sandy Lake pottery is generally plain, but occasionally the rims are either saw-toothed or wavy. On some pots, only the lip of the vessel is decorated with impressions. Sandy Lake pottery is found from north-central Minnesota north to southern Canada and east to northwestern Wisconsin.
Blackduck Ware (AD 600-1100)
The makers of Blackduck ware often decorated the upper portions of their vessels with intricate bands of diagonal, linear, and circular impressions. Many of these decorations were made using sticks and other objects wrapped with cord. Blackduck pottery is found from north-central Minnesota north to southern Canada
and east across northern Wisconsin to Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
Brainerd Ware (1000 BC-AD 400)
The makers of Brainerd ware dragged a net or piece of cloth across the surface of the wet clay to create a fabric-like appearance. Other times, a detailed imprint of the net or cords was left in the surface of the clay. Brainerd ware is found from north-central Minnesota west to the plains of Montana and north to Lake Winnipeg.
Why did the Brainerd Ware pots have a pointed bottom?
These early vessels with pointed bases are generally thought to have been propped up in warm coals or embedded in sand or soft ground near the hearth. Over time, the way pots were made changed, and a rounded base shape became more common.