HOUGHTON, MICH – Minong Mine Copper Mining District, part of Isle Royale National Park, has been designated a National Historic Landmark (NHL). The designation celebrates the national significance of Indigenous and historic copper mining that occurred at the Minong Mine. Minong is the Ojibwe term for Isle Royale.
The NHL boundary covers over 200 acres and encompasses the Minong Mine archeological site and the McCargoe Cove occupation archeological site. The Minong Mine site includes both the Indigenous copper mining pit concentration and the historic remnants of the Minong Mining Company. The McCargoe Cove site includes both an Indigenous occupation and the remains of the historic village of Cove. Archaeological and historical evidence suggests copper mining activity by native groups started no less than 4500 years ago. Mining continued through the 1880s.
As highlighted in the nomination report, authored by Dr. Daniel Trepal of Michigan Technological University with review by multiple specialists, the Minong Copper Mining District is nationally significant because it showcases the intimate connection between North America’s most significant Indigenous and historic native copper mining activities. The site has high integrity and combines one of the largest, best preserved Indigenous copper mining landscapes with the well-preserved remains of the largest historic copper mining operation on Isle Royale.
The Indigenous copper mining pit concentration within the Minong Copper Mining District is one of the largest ever found and is by far the most thoroughly studied. The Minong Copper Mining District figured prominently in several early archaeological investigations, contributing to the development of archaeological science with respect to understandings of Indigenous copper mining. Much of our modern archeological knowledge of Indigenous native copper mining methods stems from field research undertaken at this site.
“This National Historic Landmark designation for the Minong Copper Mining District cements its stature as an exemplary archeological site,” said Isle Royale Superintendent Denice Swanke. “Indigenous mining activities figured prominently in the park’s 1931 enabling legislation and the district benefits from being in designated wilderness within a national park, which will help ensure retention of a high level of integrity.”
National Historic Landmarks are buildings, sites, districts, structures, and objects that have been determined by the Secretary of the Interior to be nationally significant in American history and culture. All National Historic Landmarks are included in the National Register of Historic Places, the official list of the nation’s historic properties. Before resources can be designated as National Historic Landmarks, they must be evaluated by the National Park Service’s National Historic Landmark Survey, reviewed and recommended by the National Park System Advisory Board, and signed by the Secretary of the Interior.
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