Over ten years ago, a large-scale landscape artifact on Beaver Island’s west side was brought to the attention of a few archaeologists. It was a group of stones, some large boulders, centered on a rock that seemed to have unusual carvings. Some of the rocks had holes, scribed lines, and other interesting features –in particular, the image of sheaves of feathers. When news of the resulting investigation reached the media, the artifact became known as “The Stone Circle.”
A period of claims and counterclaims followed. On one hand, it was thought that a dark material underneath a few of the stones which were temporarily tipped was burned organic material, which was said to indicate that the area was cleared by fire before the stones were placed. Therefor, it was argued, the stones were placed in this particular pattern. And the pattern was said to demonstrate astronomical orientations. A theory was put forth that this arrangement was constructed well over a thousand years ago, by people who preceded the Native Americans of historical time. On the other hand, there has been no carbon analysis or carbon dating of the material from beneath the stones. The “carvings” have not been dated or matched to other documented carvings. Some investigators believe the stones are simply a random glacial deposit, and that any attempt to impose a pattern has succeeded by ignoring other rocks located (or since removed, for the wall of the Harbor View Motel, for example) from the field. However, it is generally accepted that this configuration has had Native American ceremonial uses for some time. Some people believe there are other landscape artifacts nearby which are more likely to be authenticated, such as an arc-shaped stone pile matching a placement found near Alpena, and the “Circle of Chiefs,” a smaller rock circle. It is logical to assume that Beaver Island was inhabited by various Native American peoples, to varying degrees and at various times. Until a thorough site examination is conducted of the entire Island, we can only guess as to what, if anything, these previous habitations left behind.