Did people interact with their neighbors? What kinds of goods were exchanged? Archaeologists can identify the sources of many materials, and when these materials are found in distant places, we know that trade or travel must have been involved. We know that traders and travelers from earliest times brought items from far away. These included many different kinds of raw materials for stone tools, as well as marine shell and copper made into items that may have represented valued ornaments or personal items. Although we know of only the durable materials, other items such as feathers, hides and food were probably also widely traded.

Some materials were traded very widely, such as copper and marine shells.


Native copper from the Lake Superior region was traded raw or as finished items across the Midwest. A variety of tools were made by cold-hammering the raw copper.

This chunk of roughly hammered raw copper from Oneida county in northern Wisconsin represents an early stage in working copper.
Sheet copper has been worked and hammered into a thin sheet, ready to make into a tool or ornament.
Most copper from La Crosse sites is in the form of finished tools or ornaments, such as this copper ring.


Marine Shells

Beads made from marine shells were traded from the Gulf Coast.

Two marine shell beads date to the Oneota tradition and were found in the La Crosse area
Native Americans traded widely across the Mid-continent, from Lake Superior to the Gulf of Mexico, and west to Wyoming This map shows the sources for materials found in La Crosse, Wisconsin.