Thursday, February 16, 2017

Light and Shadow (And The World’s Oldest Ritual)

“The light at every time of day, in every season and every momentary second, changes the appearance of every rock pile or stone wall in what we call New England. A smooth looking stone can reveal human made marks sometimes only when the light changes,” I sat down and wrote, pasted in two photos of a stone mound.

      And then I was going to use a stone serpent, a good example of a "Strong Looker" or Uktena,  for an example how you can’t sometimes easily see the white eye that stands out so well. 

      And then I looked for the recent image from a very bright day I took just to show this contrast due to conditions. 
     And got a surprise when I looked again, observing a circular dark shadow that could be intended to be suggestive of a dark colored eye - and learned again that these Indigenous Stones are meant to be seen in every kind of light and in every season. 
  And then remembered once again that these structures weren't viewed as rock art for art's sake, but were viewed as living beings, Great Serpents on the Living Landscape, a constant sort of ceremony happening every day, in every season and in every kind of light

Would a flickering fire in the night or changing moon light on a partly cloudy night make the stones that compose the snake’s body snake appear to wriggle and move??

The python cave

"At night, the firelight gave one the feeling that the snake was actually moving...."
The sacred python stone during the day (above) and at night (below), as it may have been during worshipping. (Photos courtesy Dr. Sheila Coulson, Institute of Archaeology, Conservation and History at University of Oslo)

“When Coulson entered the cave this summer with her three master’s students, it struck them that the mysterious rock resembled the head of a huge python. On the six meter long by two meter tall rock, they found three-to-four hundred indentations that could only have been man-made.
“You could see the mouth and eyes of the snake. It looked like a real python. The play of sunlight over the indentations gave them the appearance of snake skin. At night, the firelight gave one the feeling that the snake was actually moving.” said Sheila Coulson to the University of Oslo’s research magazine Apollon.
They found no evidence that work had recently been done on the rock. In fact, much of the rock’s surface was extensively eroded.
When they saw the many indentations in the rock, the archaeologists wondered about more than when the work had been done. They also began thinking about what the cave had been used for and how long people had been going there. With these questions in mind, they decided to dig a test pit directly in front of the python stone.
At the bottom of the pit, they found many stones that had been used to make the indentations. Together with these tools, some of which were more than 70,000 years old, they found a piece of the wall that had fallen off during the work...”

Thursday, February 09, 2017


Police officers prepare to approach the Last Child Camp at Standing Rock in North Dakota on Feb. 1, 2017. Native Americans and activists braced for another standoff over the Dakota Access Pipeline following President Donald Trump's order to speed up the approval process.
WASHINGTON – ABC News has posted a video with President Donald Trump saying he has not received one phone call with anyone complaining about the Dakota Access pipeline. He maintains “everyone’s going to be happy in the end.”
When Native News Online correspondent called the White House this morning, he received this message:
A transcript of President Trump’s remarks:
“As you know I approved two pipelines that were stuck in limbo forever.
I don’t think it was controversial you know I proved it.
Not one call from anybody saying.
Oh that was terrible thing you did I haven’t had one call.
So it’s like bedlam right haven’t had one call from anybody.
And you know.
Lot of jobs and that keystone case we have potentially 32000 jobs.
Almost immediately.
And then as you know I didn’t cut Dakota pipeline.
And nobody called up to complain.
Because it was unfair years of getting approvals.
Nobody showed up to fight it.
This company spends a tremendous hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars and that all of a sudden people show up to fight it.
It’s not fair to our companies.

And I think everyone’s going to be happy in the end okay.”

(Sometime, perhaps in the near future, small well-armed schoolchildren will memorize and recite this speech in Grizzly-free classrooms. – Tim)

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

PSC denies Dakota Access LLC's request to dismiss complaint filed against them

BISMARCK, N.D. - The Public Service Commission unanimously denied a request by Dakota Access LLC to dismiss a complaint filed against them on Tuesday.
Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company of Dakota Access Pipeline, failed to notify the PSC about a change in the pipeline route after the company made an unanticipated discovery of artifacts.
The site, which contained rock cairns (shown in the video at the website), was preserved, but the commission wasn't notified until 10 days after the findings which isn't proper protocol.

"The legal requirements for setting forth a claim have been satisfied, and the determination of the allegation will be made after hearing of evidence of both parties," said Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak.

The Commission's Advocacy Staff recommends a $15,000 fine, but that could change after the hearings.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Trump Signs Executive Order Forcing Continuation of DAPL & Keystone XL

Matt Agorist  January 24, 2017

“In a move that is sure to cause a firestorm of controversy, Donald Trump signed Executive Orders at 11 a.m. EST, advancing the Dakota Access Pipeline as well as the Keystone XL.
According to Reuters, U.S. President Donald Trump signed two executive actions on Tuesday to advance construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, an administration official said, rolling back key Obama administration environmental policies in favor of expanding energy infrastructure.
The entire substance of the executive order was not made immediately clear. However, they will fulfill campaign promises Trump made to approve both pipelines — which have been vehemently opposed by a massive bipartisan sect.
This news comes on the heels of a pipeline spill yesterday, which dumped hundreds of thousands of liters of oil on an aboriginal community in Canada..."

"We’re never going to back down," said Bobbi Jean Three Legs of the Standing Rock reservation in South Dakota, when Democracy Now! spoke to her Monday and asked what her message was for Trump.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Little Piece of My Childhood

Little Segment of Zigzag Stonework
(Bing capture with East at top)

That house in the upper left corner of the photo above is my childhood home, an old barn turned into a house – if I forget to close a door, now you know why. I actually did live in a barn...
The path I used to take over to the pond shows quite well, but that’s only because a few years back city water and sewer pipes were put in the ground, leading up to some proposed development that hasn’t been built yet.
A little over 50 years ago, there was another little pond in there with water as clear as glass – the modern kind, no hint of green - but there’s no trace of that maybe thirty foot in diameter circle of wonder at all any more. I think the spot was a sand and gravel pit for the original farm that’s also long gone, split up into parcels. I think someone with larger machines came in and finished it off (a good while back, judging by the small trees now filling back in the disturbed ground), even as the parcel for that big building was built up and expanded higher up – it’s a small hill made larger by dumping all sorts of trash around that edge of the leveled ground:
But what to my wondering eyes did appear, just other day, as I wandered in there for short little dog walk before running some errands? A segment of zigzag stonework somehow still sitting there, much to my surprise.

Don’t ask me why it still remains, why the stones weren’t harvested at the time the sand and gravel was removed. Maybe because of the irregular shapes of the stones, maybe a hundred other pragmatic (practical, matter-of-fact, sensible, down-to-earth, commonsensical, businesslike, having both/one's feet on the ground, hardheaded, no-nonsense) reasons. But it’s that same “point to point” approximate 10 foot distance from zig to zag, reminiscent of stones stacked rather than remnants of loose stones tossed up against a wooden snake rail fence, and yes, as often happens along these sorts of rows of stones, there are relatively larger stones, often triangular boulders, at the forward points of the zigzag:

And once again, there appears to be some sign of human enhancement to the stone, softened by the effects of time, as if to make the stone more resemble a rattlesnake and perhaps a Great Serpent:

(And what about the boulder below it? There’s a spot there on the right that sure resembles another eye as well...)
Above: another "point" boulder. Below: looking east and back toward the car. Wetland on the left, as is the segment of stones just below what might be what remains of a small esker (eskar, eschar, or os, sometimes called an asar, osar, or serpent kame, according to the Wikipedia entry), excavated ground on the right, part of the wall of trashy fill above it in the distance, covering the road that my mom used to drive her station wagon packed full of kids along to get to the little beach we used to go to - probably with sand from that little old farm gravel pit - back when the pond was still clean enough to swim in.

Above: looking west toward Wattles Brook and a former house lot, a parking spot for some Heavy Machinery. Below: the approximate location of the little walk described above:

Friday, January 20, 2017

Old Stone Wall on the Forested Hillside (VT & CT)

   Well I’m reading something called “Analyze Your Town’s Cultural Landscape” that I found online {] and partway through it I find a mention of a stone wall:
“Say you have found an old stone wall in the forested hillside near you. The first thing you need to do is to try to date the stone wall. You might do some research at the town clerk’s office and discover the wall was mentioned in an 1850 deed. You may not know exactly when it was built, but you know it is at least a mid-nineteenth-century feature. The next thing to do would be to look for other human features that could be the same age. You might follow the stone wall and find a cellar hole, and a small stone-lined hole in the ground, and a lilac bush. Human features tend to cluster in certain time periods, and the clusters can help you reconstruct what happened there. The cellar hole you find corresponds to a farmhouse site shown on a map from 1857 and on one from 1869. The small stone-lined hole uses the same building technique as the wall (no mortar, dry-stone), and you surmise it is a well for the farmhouse. The lilac bush is on the side of the cellar hole that faces an old road. It must have been planted there before it was forest, and probably long before. So, you associate all these elements from one era together, erase in your mind’s eye the recent additions to the landscape, and try to picture the mid-nineteenth-century farmhouse along the road, with a dooryard lilac and well, and open fields beyond fenced in stone.
If that stone wall now runs through the woods, you may also be able to research and see in your mind’s eye the farm failure, the abandonment of the farmhouse and farmland, and the natural forest succession of the twentieth century. You’ve started with one human feature on the landscape and learned to read what you see in greater depth.
Human use of the Vermont landscape reaches back 11,000 years, and each of the layers of human use can be looked at one at a time. To understand the prehistoric human layers of the landscape, you need to look mostly underground, and look at archeological excavations to see how early humans used the landscape. (If you’re interested in prehistoric landscapes, see the section that follows.) Most of the human features in the Vermont today, however, are from the landscapes created in historic times by the European settlers of the last 200 years...”
And I’m “interested in prehistoric landscapes” (and offended by the use of the word “prehistoric”), but I’m already certain that any further thoughts about that stone wall won’t include the possibility that it is an Indigenous made feature. I click on the link and there it is:
“Even though there are almost no human features visible above the ground that date back to prehistoric times, knowing how prehistoric Native Americans used the landscape may change the way you see the physical landscape today...”
I’ll challenge that statement, chop it up and rearrange it to say:
“Knowing how pre-contact Indigenous People Native Americans used the landscape may change the way you see the physical landscape today. There may be many features visible above the ground that reach back to sometime in those 11,000 years, including that stone wall on the hillside.”

I can’t easily run up that hillside in Vermont to look at that stone wall but I can tell you about a hillside or two in Connecticut where a stone wall or two (or more) might be above ground visible features of the Indigenous Ethnographic Cultural Landscape. Here’s one that technically is on a hillside above my home – but it’s a big hill and actually near the center next town – and oddly enough, on what became the estate of the first Puritan (now Congregationalist) minister in that town, associated with a building that was constructed as a farmhouse in about 1754:
Based on common assumptions about stone walls, you could conclude that this stone wall was constructed at some time after 1754, as fields and pastures were cleared of stones and the land deforested so that wooden rails for fences were in short supply. Then again, maybe the minister wanted a "proper" (English) stone wall around his property from the very beginning. Looking for some cultural clues, you might note those stones, the boulders, that “anchor” this stone wall – another assumed common practice you’ll find in your stone wall field guide, how colonial fence builders kept stones in place at gateways into tracts of land.
But when you look a little more closely at those boulders, you might notice something else:
Someone at some time modified that boulder so that the boulder appears to have a round white eye.

Looking at that stone wall might remind a person of a large snake, similar perhaps to snake petroforms or boulder outlines –or earthen mounds – or even, moving farther south, temples and walls and other structures in Central and South America.
A little imagination (and my Paint program) creates a different view of this gateway:
That’s the “above the ground” clue that hints at Indigenous Culture. Some proper archaeological investigation, below ground, might better assign a date to this gateway. Following the stone walls here leads many interesting places [].
More Stone Walls on Hillsides (and numerous other places):

Visualizing Serpent Walls (with the help of some Abenaki stories:

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Free Leonard Peltier

Contact the President to grant Leonard Peltier Clemency