Two freshmen from Northwestern High School made a historic debut Feb. 12 in the Maple Town Hall. They became teachers for the night, presenting information on Anishinaabe life and culture and displaying a wealth of artifacts to members of the Old Brule Heritage Society.

Jared Crozier, 15, has been studying local Anishinaabe history for years. He’s brought his research home. The Cloverland teen built a wigwam that rests in his front yard, made a bow from scratch and is trying to learn the language.

“I just find it so interesting, because I learn something new all the time,” Crozier said.

His presentation included local photographs and maps from a battle on the Brule to the network of trails used to traverse the area. The maple syruping trail passed about a quarter of a mile from the Maple Town Hall. The Anishinaabe would take the trail from the South Shore to Lake Nebagamon, stopping in Maple to gather maple syrup before continuing on to the lake to fish.

Crozier gave a youthful spin on some of his findings. While describing the versatility of a birch bark canoe, he called it “an SUV, sports car and pickup truck all in one.”

Cody Paulson of Lake Nebagamon is a collector. His main interest is military history, but the teen also collects coins and railroad artifacts. Paulson shared two tables full of artifacts with society members.

The date nail, stamped with a 37, was found along one of the railroad grades that spiderweb Douglas County. The newspapers and old papers, including a leather-bound children’s book dated 1868-1908, an 1898 bank book and a World War II ration book, were found in what Paulson called the “family box,” a wooden box filled with momentos collected by his mother’s family. He found his collection of coins — including a set of 1943 pennies made without copper — in a bag in a closet at home when he was looking for candy.

Paulson and Crozier, who are best friends, have also scoured area antique shops for finds like World War II bayonets, an Eisenhower jacket and an annuity ax.

They’ve been chasing down history in many ways — using metal detectors along old railroad grades, looking through items washed up on lakeshores, scanning through local antique shops and diving into online research.

“It’s nice to see folks Cody’s age getting interested in history,” said Paulson’s U.S. history teacher Rob Polson.

He said today’s collectors can be more self-motivated and eclectic because research is so much easier. Instead of spending a day at the library identifying an item, it takes a few seconds of surfing websites on a cell phone.

“I think it’s great they’re jumping in feet first,” Polson said.

The teens have been attending Old Brule Heritage Society meetings for the last few months.

“It’s kind of rare, I guess,” Crozier said. “There’s not many kids that are interested in it.”

Brian Paulson, Cody’s uncle and a member of the group, said they’re excited to work with the young historians.

“That’s what we’re hoping to do, is get more young kids involved,” Brian Paulson said. “Otherwise, as we leave this planet, a lot of this stuff is going to be forgotten, so it’s going to be up to the younger generation to keep doing this type of work.”

Visit the Old Brule Heritage Society website or Facebook page for more information.