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Thursday, May 23, 2024

The Curious Curator – Before Naper


Recently I received an interesting email from a young student in Naperville who found some chipped stones in the shape of arrowheads and tools.

Brian-Ogg-DSC_5596She asked, “Is there any documented evidence of ancient humans living in Naperville?”

The first people to hunt and work the land of what is now Naperville and DuPage County came from tribes in Asia who crossed the land bridge between Alaska and Russia. These Archaic peoples hunted large game and migrated great distances with the seasons.

The earliest record of these hunters in DuPage County is 6500 BC. Several Clovis and Fulsom points or arrowheads were discovered by archeologists in the 1970s. Around 1000 BC these ancient hunters formed tribes, built semi-permanent shelters, created pottery and woven vessels, developed religious beliefs and methods of farming.

The predominant tribe in Illinois at the time of Caucasian contact in 1641 was the Iliniwek. The Iliniwek were forced out by the Potawatomi who inhabited Naperville at the time of settlement by Bailey Hobson, Willard Scott and the Naper’s.

The Potawatomi tribe is a member of the Algonquin language group forced west by the Iroquois. A number of campgrounds, trails, and burial grounds were located in DuPage County once called this area Ausagaunaskee or “the tall grass valley” by the ancient tribes. Direct contact with the Potawatomi and white settlement in Naperville was confirmed with the discovery of trade beads intermingled with coins, household goods and armament supplies discovered at the site of Naper’s trading post.

Initial contact with the native tribes was friendly but short-lived. In the spring of 1832 a Sacwarrior Black Hawk rose up against white settlement on tribal lands. By August of 1832 the confederation of Sac and Fox tribes led by Black Hawk were defeated and all tribes were removed to lands west of the Mississippi River.

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After I turned in my story for the print edition about Native Americans before Naper, the researcher did some research on her own and forwarded her info to me. Here’s what she wrote:

Dear Mr.Ogg,

arrowheadI think I figured out what one of the tools I found is and who made it. I believe one is a Cascade point. Here’s some interesting info for your article:

Cascade points were projectile points associated with the Cascade phase, which was an ancient culture of Native Americans that settled in the Pacific Northwest from about 10000- 9000 BCE to about 5500 BCE. Their tools have been found in Wisconsin and throughout the Midwest.

They’re typically narrow and leaf shaped, with either a pointed or rounded base, although there are two other variants. (Mine’s leaf shaped.)

The most common length is about 3 to 5.5 cm long, and the most common width is 1.1 to 1.8 cm wide. (The point I found is 3.5cm long, and 1.5cm wide.)

I’m still uncertain about the tool I found in Bolingbrook, but hey, this is about Naperville. Lol.
I doubt it was made by the Paleo Indians, because its rather poorly made compared to the point and its made out of a different stone: flint. And its too thick. The Cascade points were thin so they could be used on arrow shafts and spears.

~Sofia Walendziak

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Bryan Ogg
Bryan Ogg
Bryan Ogg is a local historian and curator of local legend, stories and lore.


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