Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Crow Wing River at Wahoo Valley

The river was beautiful the day of the annual meeting. Here you can see the reflections of popple trees and red ossier dogwood. The first faint tinges of green are here too after a long winter.

Dr. Lund receives "Keep My Fires Burning" blanket from Society members

Here is one more photograph of Dr. Lund receiving the Founders Award for his contributions to the history and environment of the Old Wadena area. The "Keep My Fires Burning" blanket depicts a storyteller conveying the beauty of the world to his listeners. What an appropriate reminder to all of us about Duane Lund's lifetime work in writing and publishing his books of regional history and culture--including cookbooks as well as histories of the region. Pictured with Dr. Lund are Old Wadena Society board members Tom Kajer and Don Droubie

Old Wadena Society Annual Meeting

Walker researcher terms finds there as interesting
Staples World, April 19, 2007
By Tom Crawford
News Editor

Researchers don’t know exactly what they are dealing with at the recently discovered Walker artifact find, but they know it’s something very interesting, according to one of the researchers involved.

Mathew Mattson, one of the researchers involved in the Leech Lake Heritage Program on the Leech Lake Reservation, told an audience of over 70 people gathered Sunday at Wahoo Valley that they are looking at something 13,000 or more years old.

“The Walker find is guaranteed to be controversial because of its age,” Mattson said, as the conventional wisdom is that the first native Americans arrived here roughly 10,000 years ago. The finding of some flint points at a dig just south of the city of Walker in the past three years, if authenticated, could push that date back perhaps 5,000 years - much earlier than most archeologists and paleontologists have thought in the past.

The items found are all stone and consequently cannot be dated accurately by carbon dating methods used and accepted by researchers. So their finds are subject to questioning.
“We don’t have a smoking gun,” Mattson said, meaning hard evidence of the time period.
Ideally, he added, joking with his audience, he and fellow heritage site researchers will have to find a hand clutching one of their stone points with a date stamped on the hand. Even that may not be enough evidence to convince some people in academic circles who have questioned the items found in the past three years.

“We don’t have a classic projectile point,” Mattson said, speaking at the annual meeting of the Old Wadena Society. He described how the ‘dig’ at Walker began in 2004 merely to determine if there was any evidence of an early culture at that point, prior to plans to develop roads and a housing project. They first dug in a depression in the ground, thinking it might be a cellar from some early settlers’s shanty. Instead, Mattson said, “It turned out to be an old kids fort, probably built in the 1950’s or 60’s.”

To be sure, they excavated another meter below that level. Shortly before they planned to stop, they found a flake or chip off a larger stone. They immediately felt it was similar to flakes made by early man trying to make a sharp point for a spear.
“Ooops, this doesn’t belong here,” Mattson said.

Six more units or excavations were conducted in 2005, with researchers opening up 33 units in 2006. Altogether, they recovered about 90 artifacts they are now studying, mostly hammer stones and flakes. “We moved 82 tons of dirt, all with a shovel and trowel. And we screened every bit of it,” he added.

Unfortunately, from his point of view, the press got ahold of the story via a leaked memo and the scientific community has split over the find. Too many conclusions have been drawn before researchers have been able to do a complete analysis of what they have found, he said.
“We don’t know exactly what it is, but feel its very interesting. We have something going on here,” he said.

Following his talk, Dr. Duane Lund was presented with the 2007 Founders Award from the Old Wadena Society. Lund, whose books include several references to the Old Wadena site and other historical points along the Crow Wing River, received a plaque and a Pendleton blanket.
Dr. Lund, in thanking the group, said in the 1960’s he attempted to interest Minnesota Historical Society authorities in the Old Wadena location but had little success. Later, as a member of the Concordia College board of directors, Dr. Charles Mayo II viewed Old Wadena when they were looking for a site for the Concordia language camps. While rejecting the Crow Wing River site in favor of lakeshore locations, Dr. Mayo felt Old Wadena had historical interest and was instrumental in getting MHS people to at least look at historical aspects of the first white settlement in Wadena County.

The Old Wadena Society members attending the annual meeting, a group formerly known as the Wadena Historic and Environmental Learning Project (WHELP), officially approved the name change as recommended by the board of directors.
The group’s membership also approved their annual financial statement, approved a new articles of incorporation with the name change and elected a 12-member board of directors.
The board includes John Crandall from Wadena, Mary Harrison from Sebeka, Greg Leifermann and Tom Crawford from Motley and from Staples, Ruth Chapman, Don Droubie, Tom Kajer, Myra King, Russ Lee, Lloyd Nelson and Mel Weins. Dave Mattila from Sebeka volunteered to fill an open spot on the board.
Leifermann is the president and Harrison the vice president.
Those attending included members of the Todd and Wadena County Historical societies as well as the Verndale Historical Society
The Old Wadena Society annually sponsors the Old Wadena Rendezvous and Folk Music Festival, this year on August 10, 11 and 12.

First Post for the Old Wadena Society

The Old Wadena Society just held its annual meeting at Wahoo Valley Restaurant on the Crow Wing River. The featured speaker was Mathew Mattson, an archaeologist working in the Walker, Minnesota area. He spoke about the prehistory of Minnesota.

One amazing fact he related was that during the latest ice age the headwaters of the Mississippi was where Old Wadena Park now is, rather than an hour or so north by car at Itasca State Park. The glaciers extended this far.

The Society's annual Founders Award was presented to Dr. Duane Lund for his lifetime achievement in preserving the history and environment of the region. Dr. Lund is the author of 42 books, and he continues to work on more. He is a true inspiration to us all.