The use of copper as a trade item or article of exchange in North America predates European arrival or the creation of The United States .
It would probably surprise most first-time visitors to an archaeo-logical site to witness how investi-gators excitedly react to finding seemingly insignificant material items. Freshly unearthed tiny artifacts, that might easily escape an untrained eye, often hold a wealth of information. For example, charred seeds in an ancient deposit can be a gateway to new information on the past environment, diet, subsistence strategies such as farming, or economic trade lines that included importing cultigens. Like-wise, something as small as a bead-shaped piece of copper that may have been caught in the screen at an archaeological dig can help researchers with their ongoing efforts to reconstruct past lifeways.
Former Oconto Cop-per Burial Museum curator, Monette Bebow-Reinhard became interested in copper after hearing about this oldest copper burial site(between 5,000 and 6,000 years ago) in 2000. She earned her MA in History from University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire and became curator at the copper burial site in 2008. Since then, she has made the research of copper a life's challenge, especially after two of Illinois’ leading archaeologists, Dr.John Kelly and Dr. James Brown, told her "it's nice to hear someone's interested in copper." Along with her Archaic Copper Newsletter (A.C.N.), she is hard at work at the "North American Copper Artifact Trade Project," compiling a master data-base of copper artifacts in North America.
The CAS warmly welcomes Bebow-Reinhard as our September CAS guest speaker; she will conduct our first in a monthly series of presentations for the 2013-2014 season. The CAS invites the public to join us in learning about the sig-nificance of the copper trade industry in the lives of Native American groups from archaic to early contact times, focusing on Illinois.
Of course there is an endless array of the historical and modern uses for copper. Copper was used to construct the Statue of Liberty; readers of this newsletter most likely see it daily in architecture, cook with copper pots, live in homes with copper appliances, pipes, and wiring, and although far from being last on the list, copper al-loyed with other metals produces weapon-ry that has altered the fate of each of us and all human societies. Perhaps we take its value for granted at times, and Ms. Reinhard’s presentation is an opportunity to embrace new knowledge and an appreci-ation for a familiar object in our own lives.
In advance of our meeting, you may want to check out Ms. Monette Bebow-Reinhard’s website at: A Penny For Your Thoughts
www.monettebebow-reinhard.com and request a subscription to A.C.N – it’s free!
Be sure to invite a friend and join us at this free event. See back page of this Co-dex newsletter issue for details!
by Jeanne Jesernik