How will we be remembered if nothing is left behind? This question may seem irrelevant given the depth of the Athropocene’s impact. As Jan Zalasiewicz noted in a recent segment on ‘On the Media’ - our vast geological thumbprint will include an enormous amount of chicken bones (expertly preserved in our landfills) and the fossilized silhouette of millions of soda cans (the aluminum will eventually dissolve, leaving behind a 335mL void). In researching Isle Royale, I’ve come across a gap in the common historical narrative that speaks to the absence of material history. Roughly 6,000 years ago, miners actively tapped the copper reserves on Isle Royale, as evidenced by the ancient pit mines, tool markings, as well as the lead pollution David Pompeani found in nearby sediment cores. The mining stopped suddenly, only to be resumed in the 1840s when rising copper demand and the discovery of Copper Country led to a boom. In between these two events, there is very little evidence of anyone living on Isle Royale and numerous accounts report that no one did. Timothy Cochrane disputes these reports in his book, Minong: The Good Place, where he evidences with great detail the oral record of Ojibwe families living on Isle Royale during the summer months. But since the Ojibwe were nomadic and left little physical record of their daily living, their story has been left out. Now perhaps the physical record that they did leave is imperceptible to us now — but in fact does exist — we just don’t know what to look for or what to compare it against, like the color-blind being asked to compare red and green. Or perhaps their record was actually fleeting, they lived on the island, but in such a way as to not leave a trail of lead poison or the markings of a building footprint. Consider how different this is compared to your own footprint in three months, how many clamshells or tons of carbon dioxide are left in a human’s wake? I love the things we can make, but it seems like so much of what we actually leave behind are not the intentional fruits of creative labor, but the unintentional byproducts (I believe that these are one and the same). And yet, as the Ojibwe of Isle Royale show, it is also possible to live so lightly in a place that the impact is imperceptible. I don’t think this needs to be the goal, but I do believe that approaching consumption and creativity with an eye towards the archeological record may speak to the human mind.