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Thessalon First Nation to authenticate 'ancient copper spear tip'

Item found with help of metal detector in Thessalon area could potentially be thousands of years old
2021-08-05-CopperArtifactFindJH01
Marc Guttenberger recently found a copper artifact while using a metal detector near Thessalon. The Milwaukee Public Museum says the 'conical point' is somewhere between 5,000 and 9,500 years old.

Thessalon First Nation Chief Edward Boulrice is trying to temper his excitement over the discovery of what’s believed to be an ancient copper spear tip within the community’s traditional territory. 

Goulais River resident Marc Guttenberger recently unearthed the small, cone-shaped item while using his metal detector in the Thessalon area. A curator with Milwaukee Public Museum who observed photos of the item via email believes that it’s an Old Copper Culture spear tip that could be anywhere from 5,000 to 9,500 years old. 

Guttenberger gave the item to Thessalon First Nation leadership during a meeting held in the small, north shore community early last week.  

“I took it out and everything, they looked at it – they were just right pumped about it,” said Guttenberger. “I ended up donating it to them. They’re going to get it carbon-tested, I guess, to see exactly how old it is, and then they’re going to put it in some sort of museum anyways, and they’re going to make a little plaque with my name on it, that I found it and all this stuff.”

Although Boulrice hopes the find is in fact an ancient spear tip dating back thousands of years, he told SooToday Saturday that he wants to find out for sure if it’s real.  

“I don’t really know how old it is, or if it’s really a spear [tip], so I’d like to get an archeologist to check everything out,” said Boulrice. “We have it on the First Nation right now just to get it authenticated. So once we get it all checked out, we’ll probably talk to Marc again.”

“We have to know how old it is - just a picture sent to Milwaukee doesn’t really tell us the full story.”

The item is now sitting in a safe on the First Nation while leadership searches for an expert who can accurately date it. 

Bourice says a traditional repatriation ceremony will be held in the future should the spear tip check out. 

“I don’t want to put too much out there, because I’m not too sure if it’s real,” said Boulrice. “Like I said, I want it to be real, and we have got to check it out first before we put too much out there. That’s my position right now.”

Guttenberger spoke highly of his interaction with leadership at Thessalon First Nation, having experienced drumming, smudging and a sacred fire up close and personal during his visit. 

“Everybody’s excited about it. I don’t know, I just seen how excited they were, and I was like, you know what? It’s no good to me, I’d rather donate it to you guys,” he said.