Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

May 8, 2013

The Old Copper Indians

Ben Morris
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — The Old Copper Indians, were a unique division of Boreal Archaic, so named because its Indian carriers used raw copper for making specific kinds of knives, spear ponts, socketed axes, gouges, pikes and awls.

The raw copper was picked up in detached chunks that occurred sporadically throughout the region or was mined in the Lake Superior district, particularly on the Isle Royal and Keweenaw Peninsula.

The copper was not melted and cast in molds, but instead was worked and hammered into the desired shape and heated from time to time in order to keep it from becoming too brittle.

The Old Copper Indians were the first in the New World to make objects of metal. Long before the peoples of England and France knew the use of metal, the Old Copper Indians wee making tools and weapons of copper. They also made groved and fluted axes of ground and polished stone, knives and spear points.

They were also the first people in the region to have had dogs. Their dogs were of two kinds: a small one about the size of a coyote and a large one similar in size to the largest Eskimo dogs of modern times.

Ben Morris, MA, RPA is an archaeological and historical columnist for the Daily News. He can be reached at 812-932-0298 or