Archaic Indians

Wisconsin’s First People

Archaic Indian Hunters, Gatherers & Fishermen 8,000 to 2,500 Years Ago

A warming climate allowed mixed hardwood and conifer forests to flourish and people to find new ways to make a living. Lakes and rivers provided fish and beaver; forests provided nuts, deer, elk and bear. This way of life lasted almost 6,000 years!

  • The atlatl was used to hurl spears at game.
  • Large ground stone tools were made for cutting and working wood.
  • Later, copper from the Upper Peninsula was pounded into many kinds of tools.


This copper spear point or knife dates to the late Archaic period, about 2,500 years ago. Copper collected and mined from deposits near Lake Superior was cold hammered into many types of tools. Copper tools from this period found throughout North America are evidence of an advanced trading network. This piece was found by Walter Krause on his farm near here.


Shaping a chipped stone tool by the pressure-flaking process


Shaping a chipped stone by precussion flaking


Shaping a ground stone axe


Hammer stones were used to crush nuts and to make other stone tools. Can you see the thumb depression and evidence of impact? This was found in the Big Eau Pleine basin by Ed Lary.


This knife was found in the Mead archeological excavations by the University of WI-Stevens Point.


This illustration features a hunter using an atlatl to kill caribou.


The atlatl or spear thrower was used to make a spear travel further and with more force. It was probably first used in North America during the Archaic period.


These notched points are typical of the middle Archaic, 5,000 to 6,000 years ago and were probably once lashed to an atlatl spear point.


These notched points are typical of the middle Archaic, 5,000 to 6,000 years ago and were probably once lashed to an atlatl spear point.


These notched points are typical of the middle Archaic, 5,000 to 6,000 years ago and were probably once lashed to an atlatl spear point.


These notched points are typical of the middle Archaic, 5,000 to 6,000 years ago and were probably once lashed to an atlatl spear point.


Can you see a difference in the style of this point? This is known as a Durst Stemmed point dating from the late Archaic, about 3,000 years ago. This point was found by Walter Krause in a nearby farm field.


Many of these artifacts were found in archeological excavations conducted during the 1990′s by the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

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