Thursday, July 12, 2018

More Stone Walls Snaking

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Stones of the Makiawisug, or Little People of the Woodlands (Mohegan)

"At the Mohegan Retirement Community, for example, arched openings in the base of the tall stone walls that mark the Fort Hill Farm fields (Photograph 35) were made by 19th-century Mohegan stoneworkers to allow the Little People to pass (E. Thomas, personal communication). "
"The Connecticut State Register of Historic Places criteria were also applied to potentially eligible resources; the three state criteria are identical to National Register criteria A, C and D. The quality of significance in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, and culture is present in districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that possess integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association, and: A. Association with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history; B. Association with the lives of persons significant in our past; C. Distinctive design or physical characteristics, including representation of a significant entity whose individual components may lack distinction; D. Demonstrated ability or potential to yield important information about prehistory or history. In addition to meeting at least one of the National Register eligibility criteria, eligible resources must possess several of the seven aspects of integrity: location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling and association. National Register-eligible TCPs must meet National Register criteria and also be supported by a combination of historical and ethnographic data, and oral tradition carried by the population to whom a TCP is significant.

Now, the Mohegans again live on the reacquired farm, in the Mohegan Retirement Community building immediately south of the APE, which was built on the former Fort Hill Farm property because of the “protective spiritual energy” the Mohegans believe to emanate from Mohegan Hill (Quinn 2012).
(page 6)
As defined by the Mohegans, the cultural components of the district are more than the geography, stone formations, waterways, structures or remains of structures. They were all connected by a web-like network of paths across Mohegan Hill, a number of which survive (an example is at the base of Proposed Action parcel in an old path through Fort Hill Farm, now the Mohegan Retirement Community) (Fawcett 2000: 10-11). For the Mohegans, the natural and cultural components of the landscape have deep spiritual and religious meaning and attachment. The tribe believes that the rocky, wooded landscape is home to the Makiawisug, or Little People of the Woodlands, who live deep in the wooded grounds of Mohegan Hill and protect the Mohegans from harm. Mohegans make regular offerings to the Little People, who are rarely seen, and accommodate them in other ways. At the Mohegan Retirement Community, for example, arched openings in the base of the tall stone walls that mark the Fort Hill Farm fields (Photograph 35) were made by 19th-century Mohegan stoneworkers to allow the Little People to pass (E. Thomas, personal communication). The tribe believes that the stone piles documented by HPI on Fort Hill in the Proposed Action parcel are sacred because they were created and are guarded by the Little People, and they have the power to protect Mohegans from outsiders. Fort Hill, as part of Mohegan Hill, is also believed by the Mohegans to be protected by the spirit of Uncas, who the Mohegans believe lives “among the sacred stone piles and trees on the Hill” (Quinn 2012), and who causes rocks to be thrown down on people who would harm the tribe (Speck 1928: 254; Fawcett 1995: 537). To ensure his continued protection, tribal members still make offerings to Uncas at Uncas’s Spring, across Route 32 from Fort Hill. The spirit of the “Mohegan Stone Cutter,” believed to be the noted Mohegan stoneworker Henry Mathews, also protects the Hill, according to tribal tradition. The Mohegans believe that “protective energies” reside in and emanate from Mohegan Hill. The stones used to construct Uncas’s Fort on Fort Hill were “taken from Mohegan Hill because of the protective energies that emanate from that location.” When the Mohegan Church was built, its foundation was constructed with “sacred stones” from the proposed development area on Fort Hill, in order to imbue it with the Hill’s “protective energies” (Quinn 2012). “Mohegan people used stone from Fort Hill because they believed in its protective powers and connection to Uncas whose spirit still lives and protects the Hill” (E. Thomas, personal communication). Other stone landscape features on Mohegan Hill have long been and continue to be important in Mohegan cultural traditions, including Moshup’s Rock near the Mohegan Church; Papoose Ledge, Red Rock, and Uncas’s Chair near the Thames River; and Uncas’s Rockshelter at the base of Fort Hill adjacent to the Proposed Action area. On the east side of Fort Hill along Route 32 on the side of Parcel B, was a rock on which pictographs were made by the Little People, according to Fidelia Fielding, the last fluent Mohegan speaker, but it was destroyed “by roadmakers” in the early 20th century (Speck 1909: 201). -7-
a)      Rocks/Stone Piles/Rock Features The natural features of Mohegan Hill, particularly the stones and wooded areas, have great spiritual and sacred significance to the Tribe and are closely tied to their identity and sense of self. In Mohegan tradition, Mohegans are inseparable from the natural rocks on the Hill. The late Medicine Woman Gladys Tantaquidgeon learned from her elders (nanus), and passed down to current Medicine Woman Melissa Tantaquidegon-Zobel, the understanding that “In the Mohegan language, the spirit of rocks is acknowledged in the names for our leaders: a male leader is called sachem (which means rock man) and a woman leader is referred to as a sunqsquaw (which translates as rock woman)” (Fawcett 2000: 21). To the Mohegans, “[t]he tales of the elders are as old as the rocks on Mohegan Hill. Those rocks are the bones of Mother Earth. Streaked with quartz crystal veins, they contain hidden messages that guide generation after generation of those who listen well” (Fawcett 2000: 21). Pages 10 & 11
b)      b) Stone Piles and the Little People The stone piles on Mohegan Hill, including those identified in the Proposed Action area by HPI (Figure 4; Photographs 1-7), are considered “sacred stone piles” and “a critical feature of the traditional landscape of Mohegan Hill” (Quinn 2012). The piles are “sentinels” and are “a testament to the sacredness of the Hill” (Thomas, personal communication). The piles “were created by the ‘Little People’ who live deep within the ground of Mohegan Hill” (Quinn 2012). The Little People themselves are actually from stone: Medicine Woman Melissa TantaquidgeonZobel explains that they “are hard and bulky and born of stone” (Fawcett 2000: 31). The Mohegans believe that the Little People “still live within the ground on the Hill and continue to guard the stones” and that “the stones are protective because they come from Mohegan Hill” (Quinn 2012). Contemporary Mohegan tribal members continue to make offerings to the Little People in hopes that they will continue to protect the tribe (Fawcett 1995: 58).
c)      c) Other Natural and Cultural Features of the Mohegan Hill District Frank Speck recorded (and mapped, see Figure 12) several springs on Mohegan Hill as important to the Mohegans: “At several localities in the heart of the Mohegan settlement springs...

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Stone Walls "Snaking"

    I was reading yet another article about New England’s Stone walls:
Stone walls in Block Island, Rhode Island, c. 1880. BLOCK ISLAND HISTORICAL SOCIETY, PRINTED BY ROBERT DOWNIE

“WALK INTO A PATCH OF forest in New England, and chances are you will—almost literally—stumble across a stone wall. Thigh-high, perhaps, it is cobbled together with stones of various shapes and sizes, with splotches of lichen and spongy moss instead of mortar. Most of the stones are what are called “two-handers”—light enough to lift, but not with just one hand. The wall winds down a hill and out of sight. According to Robert Thorson, a landscape geologist at University of Connecticut, these walls are “damn near everywhere” in the forests of rural New England. He estimates that there are more than 100,000 miles of old, disused stone walls out there, or enough to circle the globe four times.”
     The author of the article pauses and asks “Who would build a stone wall, let alone hundreds of thousands of miles of them, in the middle of the forest?”
    And then there follows a bunch of the usual stuff, about Colonial farms and pastures and then Post-Colonial farms and pastures and finally abandoned farms and pastures.

     I’m disappointed to find that the photo above isn’t the place described here:
    “Every year he takes his students to a maple-beech forest stand in Storrs, Connecticut, which he calls “The Glen,” to look at a classic farmstead stone wall. This wall is thigh-high, and mostly built of gneiss and schist, metamorphic rocks common in the valley flanks of central New England. With Thorson’s help, one begins to see a little structure in how the stones were stacked—in messy tiers, by a farmer who added one load at a time.”
    With a little cut and paste help, I can, in this photo, begin to show the “structure in how the stones were stacked” – “tiers” that resemble the head and body of a snake, by an Indigenous “farmer’ of another kind at some unknown point in time in that other 97% of the time humans inhabited this corner of Turtle Island:

     And here I find I agree with Thorson:
     “Stone walls are the most important artifacts in rural New England,” Thorson says. “They’re a visceral connection to the past. They are just as surely a remnant of a former civilization as a ruin in the Amazon rain forest.”
      Especially if those stone walls begin with a Snake Head, in a place where for thousands of years Indigenous Peoples used fire to shape a Cultural Landscape, a Ceremonial Stone Landscape...

Snaking Stone Walls:

"Stone walls, property lines dating all the way back to the 18th century, can be found snaking through these woods..."
Harpswell, Maine. New England’s stone walls snake over hundreds of thousands of miles.
 Photo: Paul VanDerWerf under Creative Commons

  Used at:

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Jipijka’maq– Great Horned Serpent

Multiple Layers of Meaning in the Mi'kmaw Serpent Dance – Trudy Sable
“How far back this dance goes among the Mi'kmaq is difficult to say. Possibly it originated from the Ohio Valley where the serpent mounds of the Adena tradition are found: interchange between the Ohio Valley and the Maritimes 3,000 years ago is documented (Ruth Whitehead, personal communication, 1996).”
“First, as seen in the language, the world is experienced and expressed as fluid, in a constant flux, or as a process, not static and objectified. For instance, there are a number of words for Creator, e.g. kisu Ikw, ankwey-ulkwjikeyulkw, tekweyulk, most of which are transitive verbs describing different processes of creation that do not begin or end, but are ongoing. The word adapted by the missionaries to communicate the abstract concept of 'God' is Niskamij, which is both a kin term and an honorific term meaning 'grandfather', 'step-father', and 'father-in-law' (Francis, personal communications, 1995-96).
Second, because of the fluid nature of reality, everything in the culture seems to accommodate and adjust to a world of shifting realities. Many of the legends are filled with shape-shifting and unpredictable beings with whom one had to interact appropriately to survive. The nature of the language, stories, songs and dances, all seem to be a way to re-create and re-evaluate reality again and again, and to re-establish one's relationship within it continuously. Third, everything expresses a world of relationships, or things in association or in relation with other things, not existing as separate entities. This can be seen in the language in the extension of kinship terms to things, animals and other-than-human-beings, as well as in the social organization. Similarly, the terms for colours illustrate this relational quality. Except for the four colours red, black, white and yellow (also the colours used for the four directions), all colours are associative — or "analogized", as Francis (personal communications, 1995-96) terms it. Even these four, however, are thought to have derived from Proto-Algonquian words that associate them with blood (red), light/sunlight/dawn (yellow and white), and ash (black) (Whitehead 1982:71). Other colour terms mean Tike the sky' (blue), 'like the fir trees' (forest green), etc. Thus there is no way to describe the colour of blue and green rocks, or even a dream of blue and green rocks, without ascribing to them a connection, or relation, to the sky and fir trees. Furthermore, all colours — including black, red, yellow and white — are intransitive verbs that can be conjugated. The translation of maqtewe 'k (black) is 'in the process of being black', inferring that there is no fixed state of blackness, but rather a stage in a process that could change (Francis, personal communication, 1996). Fourth, many levels of meaning can be compressed into one word, one utterance, one step — a whole image that might take many sentences in English to write out can be expressed in one word or one movement, similar to mnemonic marks made to convey information, or wampum belts with each bead associated with some message. As well, there may be implicit meanings that are not conveyed in the literal translation of a word but simply come from being part of the culture...
...The word jujijuajik, according to Margaret Johnson, means 'acting like a snake'. She explained that the word jujij refers to things that crawl on the ground, e.g. snakes, lizards and spiders. This is in keeping with Hagar who quotes Silas T. Rand, the 19th-century Baptist minister to the Mi'kmaq, as defining jujij as a general term for 'reptile'. Hagar also mentions that, despite this definition, several Mi'kmaq assured him it designated the rattlesnake (Hagar 1895:37). John Hewson defined jujij as 'serpent' and jujijuajik as 'they do the serpent', but Francis was uncertain that this was an accurate definition. Nicholas Smith cites Jack Solaman, a Maliseet from Tobique Point, as using the word al-la-de-gee-eh in a singing of the "Snake Song" in 1915. This word was translated by Peter Paul as 'moves like a snake', though it does not actually contain the word 'snake' in it; rather, it literally means "it has the motion of a snake" (Smith n.d.). In the Mi'kmaw language, this would be alatejiey, which is translated as 'crawling around, or the movement that the snake makes' (Francis, personal communication, 1996). This translation seems similar to Margaret Johnson's definition of jujijuajik. The actual word for 'snake' in Mi'kmaq is mteskm (Hewson, personal communication, 1996)...
...The jipijka 'm is a powerful symbol in Mi'kmaw legends. It lives and travels beneath the earth or water, and its horns, one red and one yellow, were used for personal power particularly by puoinaq, or what are referred to as shamans today. It can also take on human form and live as a human in the underwater world. The red and yellow horns of the jipijka 'm are power objects, and stories about the use of jipijka 'm horns are known all the way across northern North America and across the centuries, back to northern Asia (Whitehead, personal communication, 1996)...
   Hagar describes it as "a horned dragon, sometimes no larger than a worm, sometimes larger than the largest serpent... He inhabits lakes, and is still sometimes seen" (Hagar 1896:170)...
In summary, the Serpent Dance involves many layers of meaning and embodies a richness of information and profundity. First, this one dance brings together a web or system of relationships that occur simultaneously — the changing of seasons, most probably linked to the appearance or position of a constellation in the sky, connected in turn to the time of the moulting of snakes, which were indicators for the ripening and picking of medicine. On another level, the jipijka 'm was the essence or protector of medicine, which was the spirit ally of the puoin, who was the most powerful shaman. Ultimately, the dance protected the well-being of the people themselves. Second, the mirroring of one thing in another is evident — the micro-cosm reflecting the macrocosm. The dance itself mirrored the sound of the plant, the coiling and uncoiling of both the literal snake awakening from hibernation and shedding its skin, and the essence of the medicine in the form of the jipijka'm, and possibly the constellation in the sky and the changing or "turning over" of seasons. The plant, meteteskewey, may have mirrored the jipijka 'm in its appearance and sound, if the identification of the plant is correct. 
Possibly, as well, the constellation in the sky mirrored the cycle of the snake on earth, like the constellation Ursa Major mirroring the hibernation, birth, and hunt of the bear as it moves through the sky in the winter and spring (see Hoffman 1954:253). Furthermore the male and female dancers were possibly a reflection of male and fevna\e jipijka 'maq, as well as the male and female plants. Finally, the dance illustrates the Mi'kmaw relationship to the world as being part of universal processes and cycles, of "tuning in" to the funda-mental energy and rhythms and reflecting and expressing those processes and rhythms in the dance. The dance was a means to help effect the changing or turning over of seasons, and channel the energy appropriately so that the medicine would be powerful and effective, just as other aspects of nature — temperature, soil composition, weather patterns, etc. -contribute to the process. Dance was a way to reflect and come to know the world, embody and communicate its rhythms and its stories, and re-establish one's relationship to and within a shifting reality again and again.”

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Striking Serpents (Woodbury CT)

(split boulder on bedrock  outcrop and two stone rows)
Two Striking Serpents with snake-like bodies and stones stacked to suggest markings, including a seventh scale "healing diamond." 

Striking Serpent with snake-like body and stones stacked to resemble markings, including a seventh scale "healing diamond." 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Driving By Yet Another Dam (Stone Construction)

     I’m not sure if this dam (stone construction) was actually originally a dam. I’ve driven by it more times than I can remember but I recently stopped on my way from somewhere to somewhere else, apparently to take a series of mostly unfocused photos. I know it reminds me of other local stonework that is definitely not composed of obviously quarried blocks of stone.
    And I’m not sure if it’s a sort of causeway as well since at least this segment seems sort of wide, sort of earth filled sort of:
     If there was a sort of culvert-like outlet here where it’s breached, I’ll never probably know unless an older image of it exists somewhere, perhaps at the Watertown Historical Society or something:

I don’t know what to think about this stone: 

(Above) Part of a larger Effigy contained in the stacking?? (Below) A suggestion of an eye perhaps, an oval larger crystal of quartz in a band of quartz, perhaps a suggestion of an effigy:
Another couple that seem to have the suggestion of eyes:
Like I said: "out of focus:"

...but sort of interesting.
Reminds me of this place, a culvert-like opening more or less intact, maybe ten miles away to the north and west, connected by the same blue-blazed trail:
That same mix of assorted sizes of stones, the same wavy courses of stones...
Apparently another place where big birches tend to be out of focus, clinging to these stone structures:
Causeway Collection:
Another Possible Indigenous Causeway:
Blog Search of Causeway for the Curious, with more (sometimes) out of focus photos:

And I'll add this:
Our oldest wagon roads frequently lay atop Native American trails.
    "Just a week or so ago (in Dec. 2015) a friend of the Trading Path Association called to say he thought he'd seen some old, old bridge abutments near his home.  We went for a walk in the woods and, sure enough, he'd found a bridge abutment and it was very old.  [A bit more on dating hypotheses below]  Then we followed the old road course over a little hogback, and down at the bottom of the hogback, on another little creek was another very old bridge.

Near by the old roadbed we spotted what appeared to be a "trail tree", a tree intentionally distorted by being tied down while young.  They frequently have a limb growing out of their upper curve which, so it is said, point the direction of a turn in the trail.  When I became agitated about the tree my host said, "Oh, hey, I have two more of them on my land."