Yay, this post is exciting! I am in Lansing (just graduated from MSU) and I am kind of an archaeology nerd. I just finished a class on North American Archaeology where we did quite a bit with ceramics. I haven't worked with clay very much so I can't tell you much about how to do it, but hopefully I can give you some information.
Most of the Eastern part of the US, including Michigan, is classified as the woodland region. The ceramics for this whole region for a given time period were quite similar, although there is some variation. The first pottery in the region is from the early woodland period (about 3,000-2,300 years ago). This pottery is kind of plain and boring. The middle woodland, sometimes called Hopewell, (2,400-1,400 years ago) has some pretty cool pottery, and I think that would be my choice of something to recreate. Late woodland (1,400-400 years ago) pottery is also pretty plain. Hopefully knowing a little of the terminology will help you find more traditional decoration styles.
As far as the process of making ceramics, I know you need to add temper to the clay, make your pot (or whatever you are making), and then fire it. The temper can be something like sand, crushed shell, or fibers like grass. This http://www.uwlax.edu/MVAC/Research/technologies.htm#Ceramics site isn't great, but it gives you a little more information. Most, if not all, early American ceramics were fired in pits, not kilns. People would build fires outside with rocks in them to hold heat. they would then place their pots in the fire and cover it with branches and twigs. I am not completely sure of the process. I watched a video on it a while ago but don't remember it too well. Ok, I found this http://www.nativetech.org/pottery/firing.htm site that explains it a little better.
I'm sorry if my post got a little long. Let me know if there is anything else I can help you with. I don't know a whole lot about it, but I may be able to point you in the right direction. And definitely let us know how the finished product turns out!