'I wish these rocks could talk'

SIGOURNEY- Have you ever found an arrowhead and wondered more about where it came from and what it was used for? This Saturday, June 8th is your chance to learn from experienced artifact hunters about what historical artifacts you may have. The Skunk River Artifact Show will hold its’ tenth show at the Keokuk County Expo Building from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sigourney resident Tom Monroe, an avid outdoorsman and former member of the State Natural Resource Commission, said that the idea for the show came about in 2010 when Eugene Jones, from Martinsburg, approached Monroe about having an artifact show.

“I said ‘I’ve been thinking about having an artifact show in Sigourney too!’” Monroe said.

He recounted that he and Jones together organized the show, with Jones using his connections with the Hawkeye State Archaeological Society of Iowa to promote attendance at the show, while Monroe handled general logistics.

“We put on our first show and it was a tremendous show,” Monroe recalled.

A lot has changed since that first show. For starters, the show is now sanctioned by the Hawkeye State Archaeological Society of Iowa, meaning that the Society promotes it as one of their five annual shows, allowing Monroe to tap into a larger group of event attendees. However, for Monroe, what people learn about artifacts at the show is much more important than how many people show up.

“I talked to a lot of landowners who had artifacts that they would find… but they don’t know anything about them, they don’t know what they are, they don’t know what they’re worth, and really don’t know the history of them. But they’re neat so they kept them,” he said of the show. “I wanted it as an educational tool for the people of the county,” Monroe added.

Tom Monroe grew up spending all of his time outside.

“I’m an outdoor guy all my life. If it’s anything to do with the outdoors… I’m that kind of guy,” he said.

Between hunting, fishing, and trapping, Monroe would find the occasional arrowhead, but said he never really knew much about them, other than what they were. As he grew older, he came to understand more and more about artifacts, what their purpose was, and to gain a greater appreciation for the Native Americans who used those types of artifacts.

“I have learned a lot about artifacts,” he said. “Every artifact has a story behind it,” Monroe added.

Monroe said that as of late, different types of artifacts have started to be found at the same spot. Monroe said that is because that spot was viewed as a good site to the Native Americans who inhabited this area many years ago. A good site is generally in an area were water could run-off, but was still relatively close to a river or stream, essentially the interstate of choice for Native Americans during that time period.

“Different arrowheads were made in different eras and by different peoples, but you find them at the same sites,” he said. “A good site would have different people on it not for hundreds of years, but thousands of years,” Monroe added.

Monroe said that there is no admission charge for residents to come look at artifacts. Additionally, there is no charge for individuals who wish to display a collection, however those who are interested in selling artifacts do have to pay $15 per table.

“We do it as an educational thing so we don’t charge admission. We want people to come. We want kids to come,” he said.

For more on this story and others, catch the June 5 edition of the News-Review.