Artifact show coming to Niles on Feb. 25

Published 12:50 pm Wednesday, February 14, 2007

By By ANDY HAMILTON / Niles Daily Star
NILES – More than 80 tables of prehistoric Native American artifacts from Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Ohio will be on display Sunday, Feb. 25 in Niles.
The Niles Artifact Show sponsored by the Wolverine State Archaeological Society and the Genuine Indian Relic Society is from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Michiana Party Hall, 2809 S. 11th St. Admission is free to the public, and breakfast and lunch will be available.
"It's a great big hobby that we have in this country today. Not too many people know about it," said John Steimle of Indian Lake, a co-host along with Fred Van Dyke of Niles of the Artifact Show.
Steimle, a collector for more than 30 years, said prehistoric is defined by artifact collectors and dealers as about 1600 AD, and added they refer to the period as "the contact period of white man to this area."
"We'll have a lot artifacts [at the Artifact Show] that will go back to 8,000 BC, the paleo[lithic] period," he added.
The value of prehistoric items depends on the color and type of stone used to create the piece, the workmanship, size, and how old it is.
Flints in arrowheads and spear points, knives and more than 200 bird stones will be on display next weekend, Steimle said. Bird stones, he added, are small effigies two to four inches long, and are items that were all made primarily before the BC periods.
"That is unusual for shows to have that many [bird stones]. They're in a lot of collections, but they're valuable enough not too many people bring them out to show," Steimle said. "We call them bird stones because somewhere along the line someone equated them to look like a bird. Sometimes we have difficulty seeing the bird in them."
Steimle said collectors will also be showing different style banner stones that are primarily found in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio, and are made out of slate.
"It's an item that's hard to describe until you see them," Steimle said. "They're artwork is what it is, and they do have a functional purpose, either religiously or decoratively."
Steimle said the amount of collectors and items expected to be at the Artifact Show indicates the growing interest of the hobby. The Niles show has been well accepted, he added, and serves as a kick-off show for the season.
"You've got to see it to believe it," he insisted. "If you wanted to go to an artifact show you could go every weekend in the summer and fall."