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Unearthing Wadena County's history


by Trinity Gruenberg

    Unearthing Wadena County’s past is the mission of Dr. Ed Flemming and his team from the Science Museum of Minnesota Anthropology Department.

    They began an archaeological survey of the county in May, searching for possible dig sites. On September 20, Fleming gave a mid-survey update at the Wadena County Historical Society.

    Flemming is a guest lecturer at Macalester College, researcher and lecturer for the University of Minnesota, has a PhD in archeology and anthropology, masters in archeology and paleontology, and a bachelor in anthropology and art history.

    The plan was to begin the survey in March, but due to the long lasting winter, they started in May.

    “We are going to be doing fieldwork until early November,” he said. 

    Flemming brought some of the more interesting artifacts recovered, which they call diagnostic artifacts. They can judge how old they are based on their appearance, such as undecorated pottery and chipping debris from the creation of stone tools.

    They have been working on collections in their lab, focusing on precontact sites. They recently completed a study of the Bdote, where the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers meet and documented 10,000 years of Native American history.

    The countywide surveys are a part of a broader statewide survey effort that is administered by the Minnesota Historical Society, Minnesota Indian Affairs Council and the Office of the State Archaeologist. 

    “The purpose of the statewide surveys is to fill in the gaps of our knowledge in the archeology of Minnesota,” explained Flemming. . . .

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