The ancient copper mines of northern Michigan are one of many direct contradictions to our text book history of North America. It seems that a lot was going on here before Columbus came along. The problem is that the evidence and the conflicting opinions leave us with more questions than answers.
Artifacts, stone tablets, tools, weapons, and even stone structures have been found across America, from New England through the northern most states. Many of the tablets actually have inscriptions, and, some of these have been attributed to the language of the Phoenicians.
Others link the earthen mounds that once covered a lot of the Midwestern states with these mysterious people. Early history of Michigan, Ohio, and states west tell of literally thousands of these mounds. The more elaborate ones have survived. The smaller ones were plowed under to make way for farmland.
The problem with these findings is that they contradict history, and, since they don't coincide with what we believe to be the true course of events, it will take years, if ever, for a real investigation to take place. The easiest explanation is fraud. The problem here is why would anyone build, or create these artifacts, and how would they learn how to create cuneiform inscriptions.
The first Jesuit priests from France who ventured into Canada and northern Michigan in the Isle Royale region on Lake Superior, discovered over 5,000 abandoned copper mines. There were, apparently, no structures, no skeletons, and no sign of life near the mines except for some crude stone tools. Also, there was the absence of the copper that had been mined. Later carbon testing on some of the few artifacts left indicated that this mining occurred over 3000 years ago.
If you ask some archaeologists, they will tell you that the native Americans had been mining these areas for thousands of years and using copper for decoration, and, presumably tools. However, modern day theorists pose the question, where are all the millions of pounds of copper now? Almost none has been found. And, my question here would be, "Why would a hunter/gatherer culture expend so much time and effort to extract copper?"
Apart from a few copper artifacts usually in animal or snake form, all of the millions of pounds of copper that was estimated to have been mined was gone. And, stranger still, the resident native Americans told the Jesuits that they knew nothing about the mines, or who had dug them.
It is said that Indian folklore tells of a group of less than genial people, who arrived from somewhere in the distant past and forced the locals to dig for copper. A few of the local tribes eventually rose up and fought against them.
In his book, Footprints of the Welsh Indians: Settlers in North America before 1492, William L. Traxel quotes a legend of the Menominee Indians, which states that what they called marine men came in big boats, and wounded mother earth by digging her shiny bones out of the earth , carrying them off across the sea. He also states that the famous Nez Perce, Chief Joseph carried with him a cuneiform tablet, which he said he received through his distant ancestors.
Stories passed down in history tell of Phoenicians traveling long distances, and, even going to a new continent whose northern coast line, presumably Greenland, was a hazard due to it's ice fields.
Whatever the answer, it's a fascinating subject, and shouldn't be excused or dismissed by assuming that everything that doesn't jive with what we already believe in is fantasy or fraud.