Historians, archaeologists, and ethnologists believe Paleo-Indians were using this and other areas of North Dakota 10,000 years ago; there are the 200 tipi rings scattered over the Refuge.
Researched sites have had little in the way of artifacts because of the nomadic culture of many tribes. A greater challenge to archaeologists is determining to which tribe the artifacts belonged; literature cites the Assiniboine as the tribe most likely to have occupied this area of North Dakota.
The legend behind the name "Lostwood" is traced to a group of Euro-American homesteaders who needed firewood when they reached this area. They located the only grove of trees, on what is presently Refuge property, and proceeded to cut down enough trees for their needs. A blizzard buried their wood under the snow, hence the name Lostwood. Remington Kellogg, U.S. Biological Survey biologist, visited the Lostwood area in 1910 and recorded these words from early homesteaders: "the ducks on some of the marshes made so much noise at night that they had to get up and shoot to scare them away so that they could sleep."