The Paleo-Indians possibly followed herds of mammoth along the icy water of Lake Agassiz as it lapped Campbell Beach. For certain, an Archaic people, those of the Old Copper Complex (3,000 to 1,000 B.C.) entered this part of northern Minnesota from the east, probably following the lake route that would later serve the voyageurs.
The first people to leave an extensive archaeological record were those of the Laurel Culture. They dominated the area from 200 B.C. to 800 A.D. They were mound builders and built several burial mounds along the Rainy River. They were part of the Woodland Pattern and survived by hunting and gathering. Various plants, berries, moose, beaver and fish, especially sturgeon, sustained the people.
The Blackduck Culture succeeded the Laurel in about 800 A.D. They utilized the mounds of their predecessors and built additional burial mounds of their own for their dead. A culture identifiable as Blackduck disappeared around 1,400 A.D.
At the time of the first European exploration in the region, northern Minnesota was populated by Cree, Monsonis, Assiniboine and Sioux Indians. The Ojibwa, however, would shortly push their way westward to become the masters of the border area.