In the US Midwest, the working of marine shell procured through vast trade networks has typically been associated with elite prestige economies and craft specialization at major Mississippian centers. Outside of these contexts, marine shell goods are often assumed to have been brought into communities as completed goods. A recent finding suggests that local, small-scale marine shell working occurred at an early seventeenth-century village in northern Illinois, Middle Grant Creek (11Wi2739). This finding represents the first probable evidence of marine shell working in the Midwest outside of large, Mississippian contexts. Consequently, this practice may be much more geographically and temporally expansive than previously thought. This evidence encourages a rethinking of marine shell finds whenever they are assumed to be imported as finished goods.