Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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Hunting for Ancient Artifacts

Kristen MonroePeople who collect native American "game balls" debate what they were used for – some say a game, others say as a weapon

Chunkey was a game played by native American’s to practice their hunting skills.  Many games that the Indians played helped improve dexterity, or hone their shooting skills.  The natives would roll a disk, or stone.  The Indians would chuck a spear, and whoever got the closest to the stone without hitting it would be the winner.  Some ancient Indian artifact collectors have been lucky enough to find a "chunkey stone."
Native American "game balls" collected by a southern Wisconsin woman. Photo by Kristen Monroe
Hunting for ancient Indian artifacts can be blind luck.  There are a few tips that can increase your chances of finding the rare treasures.  A friend of the family, Shirley, shared some of her collection with me and my children.  “You have to think like an Indian,” Shirley said.  Most tribes would settle in areas where water was in close proximity.  Of course, they would reside in areas where hunting, gathering and shelter were available. 

The best time to look for ancient artifacts is after a fresh rain in a plowed field.  That way, the rain would help settle the dirt and the artifacts would rise closer to the surface.    Surface hunting in farm fields was easier years ago before farming technology changed so drastically.  The tractors used to really dig deep and churn the earth.   Modern tractors do not turn the dirt quite as much.  Some of Shirley’s fondest memories were searching freshly plowed fields along the river.

You cannot search for Indian artifacts on state property because of NR 45.04. The rule states, no person may destroy, molest, deface, remove or attempt to remove any natural growth or natural or archaeological feature.   It’s best to search private land, and remember get permission first.

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