Evidence suggests Paleo-Indians were the first group to?reside in this region approximately 8,000 ? 9,000?years ago, Paleo-Indian sites have been discovered along the Rainy River. As hunters, the Paleo-Indians travelled these lands following herds of caribou and bison. Large parallel flaked spear points, bifaces, scrapers and flakes are artifacts that have been recovered on these ancient sites.
The Archaic culture dates back to between 2,000 ? 8,000 years ago. As one of the first people to work with native copper, mainly from Lake Superior, Archaic tools reflect their metal working skills. Adzes, spear points awls and spuds are but a few examples. The Archaic people not only depended on large game such as moose, but also on fish, implements for hunting and fishing included stone and copper fish hooks, arrowheads, and perhaps a spear thrower, known as a atlatl.
The Laurel Culture is part of a larger complex defined as Middle Woodland, who resided?here from approximately 800 ? 2,000 years ago.?With an elaborate social and?religious structure, the Laurel people were the first mound builders in the Rainy River region.?The prairie landscape and adjacent river at Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung provided abundant?sturgeon and other?wildlife, which is one of the reasons why people gathered here in?great numbers in the spring. It is told by our Elders that at any one ti
me, hundreds of people would have been here. Mounds were constructed by digging a shallow pit, placing the?deceased inside and then covering then with earth. More deceased were then placed on top and covered. This layering process may have taken generations to create the mounds that we see today. Grave goods were often buried with individuals. Medicine bags, pipes, food, clay pots, and tools represented items as individual may have required both in life and death. It is the Laurel people who left the most visible evidence of past generations, the burial mounds to remind us all of what a sacred place the Long Sault is.
Blackduck & Selkirk Cultures
The blackduck and Selkirk cultures lived in close contact with each other. Their histories date back approximately 300 ? 800 years. The blackduck were quite similar to the Laurel, in that they made pottery, build burial mounds and also processed wild rice. Their pottery is distinguished on the rim of the vessel. Since the Rainy River was part of a continent wide trading network, the Blackduck and Selkirk cultures had contact with other tribes from across North America.