Two points for history

By: 
Lisa Ingebrand, Montgomery Messenger

I found my first arrowhead last summer.

Last week, I found my second.

And now, I have the bug— the desire—to know more about the fascinating old points that washed up on the shoreline of the lake my family has lived on for more than 60 years.

I came across both arrowheads by chance.

I enjoy taking walks along our beach in the evening, and one night last summer, I came across a perfectly formed arrowhead on top of the other rocks and sand, at the lake’s edge.

It took me by surprise. I remember thinking, “No… It can’t be…"

Then, I picked it up and examined the rough edges and its definite point.

Finding an arrowhead is a thrill—especially on your property, where your family calls home.

I was probably the first person to touch the hand-crafted object in hundreds of years, and it was amazing to think that the person who used the arrowhead had most likely stood near the same spot.

I shared my treasure with friends and family and had plans to put it in a shadow box and display it, but time got away from me, and the little arrowhead remained on top of our mantel until last week… when I found my second arrowhead.

This time, my husband, John, and I were evaluating the erosion along our beach from a recent storm while our girls cannonballed off the dock. A lot of sand had washed off our shore and strong waves had deposited more rocks than usual. And, for some reason, I noticed part of an interesting-looking gray rock sticking out of the sand and picked it up.

It was an arrowhead.

I found it less than three feet from where I found the other one.

I quickly washed it off in the water and showed it to my husband (who so lovingly joked that someone had to be placing dollar-store arrowheads out there for me to find).

We had been thrilled to have one arrowhead as a remembrance of the people who lived on our land long before us—but two arrowheads? It was almost unbelievable.

That evening, we shared our find with family members and placed the points side by side. One is a beautiful gray color. The other is more brown, but has a more distinct shape.

With these artifacts in our possession, we began pondering who the people were who made and used them and what life would have been like for them.

To find answers to my questions, I reached out to a local historian who confirmed that many, many years ago there was a Native American encampment a few miles from my family’s home and that my family’s property would have been more of a slew than a lake, which would have made it prime hunting lands. This information was helpful, but it was suggested that I reach out to local arrowhead hunter Steve Frost for more information.

I emailed Frost a photo of my second, gray arrowhead. As a self-proclaimed amateur arrowhead hunter, he was happy to oblige my request for information and provided me with the following:

“My guess is that your arrowhead is from the ancestors of the Dakota peoples… and the ‘Woodland’ period, prior to contact with white men, so about 500 years ago. Looks to be made out of chert, which was widely used and is similar to flint. Where you live would have been a good site for a band of Native Americans to have as a living site with water close at hand and the wooded (back then, before white man’s agriculture) area for shelter and fuel.”

Frost explained that once the Native Americans had contact with the white man they could trade for metal which was favored for arrowheads and blades. “They would also favor guns over spears and bows and arrows when trading for these became possible,” he shared.

My friend Jaron Christenson, who studied geology in college, also believes the arrowheads are made of chert.

“Typically there are only a handful of rocks arrowheads are made of,” Christenson explained. “You need them to have a choncoidal fracture pattern that creates the sharp edge. I've really only known arrowheads to be made out of obsidian and chert. This should be chert.”

Piecing together the history of the two small stones has been exciting and has spurred my girls’ interest in local history. And now, everyone who visits our beach likes to keep their eyes peeled for more arrowheads.

I, too, will keep looking.

I have arrowhead fever, and history just got a whole lot more interesting.

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