Faces in the Wilderness: a New Network of Crossdated Culturally-Modified Red Pine in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness of Northern Minnesota, USA

Evan R. Larson, Lane B. Johnson, Thomas C. Wilding, Kalina M. Hildebrandt, Kurt F. Kipfmueller, Lee R. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


New dates from culturally modified red pine rediscovered in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota provide an opportunity to merge tree-ring records of human land use with archaeological records, historical travel accounts, and traditional knowledge to enhance understanding of Anishinaabeg land tenure in the Wilderness. Records from 244 culturally modified trees (CMTs) demonstrate varying intensities of human use along historical water routes, notably the Border Route that connected Grand Portage to Rainy Lake and Lake of the Woods during the North American fur trade. Crossdated modification years from 119 CMTs provide direct evidence of human-landscape interaction along historical travel routes utilized by Anishinaabeg and Euro-American traders from the mid-1700s to the early 1900s. This CMT network preserves a fading biological record of fur-trade-era cultural history that contributes to a growing cross-cultural conversation on the storied traditional use of a cultural landscape that is now the most visited federal wilderness area in the United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)747-764
Number of pages18
JournalHuman Ecology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019



  • Anishinaabe landuse
  • Boundary Waters Canoe Crea Wilderness
  • Culturally modified trees
  • Fur trade
  • Minnesota, USA

Cite this