“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Menoken in Burleigh County, North Dakota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)

Trade at Menoken

Menoken Village State Historic Site

Trade at Menoken Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Connor Olson, September 16, 2019
1. Trade at Menoken Marker
Inscription.  Recovered stone, metal, and shell artifacts show that the people were involved in trade systems that spanned the continent. It is not clear how these systems worked. Residents at Menoken probably did not travel far beyond what is now central North Dakota, and it is unlikely that any person from the village actually visited any source for exotic materials. They probably received these items through what archeologists call "down-the-line" exchange. The same materials were valued or prized by many different social groups. The value of these items was high enough to keep them moving across great distances and passing through the hands of owners speaking many languages.

Several tiny obsidian pieces were found in excavations. Obsidian is a volcanic glass that has a very sharp cutting edge when fractured. The nearest and most likely source for this stone is near present-day Yellowstone National park, about 520 miles away.

Many metal objects were found at Menoken, including recent gun shell castings and beverage cans just beneath the sod, owing to use of the site as a picnic and hunting area during the last century. The most surprising

Excavated earth lodge. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Connor Olson, September 16, 2019
2. Excavated earth lodge.
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discovery of metal was six very small artifacts made of native raw copper, dating to AD 1200. The nearest source for this copper is in extreme eastern Minnesota.

The marine shell ornaments are probably the farthest from their sources, which could have been the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean, or the Caribbean Sea. Other shells came from the creek nearby or from the Missouri River and could have been gaming pieces and paint dishes, as well as decorative ornaments.

Several fossil shells were found in the excavations. These include two species of fossil freshwater snails from a 60-million-year-old geologic formation that outcrops along the Missouri River. A fragment of a marine cephalopod or ammonite was also recovered.

Photo captions:
Lower left: Native copper artifacts include a small awl tip and five small, thin, irregular fragments that may be residue from hammering and shaping large copper pieces
Upper middle: This map shows the nearest sources for several exotic (here, meaning nonlocal) materials found in the AD 1200 artifacts assemblage at Menoken
Lower middle: It was not clear why these fossils were collected- perhaps as objects of symbolism, as ornaments, or simply as curios.
Upper right: Ornaments made from sea or marine shell include several kinds of beads and a tapered pendant

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Lower right: The large disk made from mussel shell may have served as a gaming piece, perhaps tossed like a coin or die in a game of chance. Mussel shell is available locally
Erected by State Historical Society of North Dakota.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Anthropology & ArchaeologyNative Americans. A significant historical year for this entry is 1200.
Location. 46° 50.515′ N, 100° 31.031′ W. Marker is near Menoken, North Dakota, in Burleigh County. Marker can be reached from 171st Street Northeast, 0.2 miles north of 30th Avenue Northeast, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Menoken ND 58558, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 6 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Investigating a Pit House (within shouting distance of this marker); Early Archeological Studies At Menoken Village (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Menoken Village State Historic Site (about 400 feet away); Menoken Indian Village Site (about 400 feet away); a different marker also named Menoken Village State Historic Site (about 500 feet away); Apple Creek (approx. 3.2 miles away).
Also see . . .  Menoken Village State Historic Site. (Submitted on August 8, 2020, by Connor Olson of Lemmon, South Dakota.)
Credits. This page was last revised on August 12, 2020. It was originally submitted on August 8, 2020, by Connor Olson of Lemmon, South Dakota. This page has been viewed 48 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on August 8, 2020, by Connor Olson of Lemmon, South Dakota. • Mark Hilton was the editor who published this page.

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May. 18, 2022