Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Stone Serpents & Mexed Missages (from your television)

(Looking at something I started working on in early June 2017)
Snake Effigy by Carol Hicks
     So (back in June 2017) I saw the art work above, related to a link to a web page that included the words “Archaeologists Discover Hundreds of Ancient Stone Mounds in Alabama: Stone Mounds, Stone Walls, and Stone Snake Effigies Are Concentrated in Choccolocco Mountains” by Dr. Greg Little in the Google search preview. So I take the click bait and read what turns out to be an ad for a guide book to public Indian Mound Sites in Alabama and note that:
   “In 2017 the author visited the Morton site and several others in the area with Dr. Holstein. Since his initial reports, Holstein’s research team has found many more stone mounds and stone wall features in the area and he asserts that there are likely thousands of more stone mounds to be found in the many unexplored mountains in the region. (But then I read the next sentence, rolling my eyes if I recall correctly:) The present author has seen hundreds of stone walls in the New England states, which were made primarily by Colonial farmers. The stone walls in Alabama are clearly different from those in New England. There is no doubt that the stone features in Alabama are Native American... Some of the most impressive Native American constructions in the region are huge effigies of snakes formed from large stone piles and boulders. During our 2017 visit to the sites we saw several of these. However the most impressive is a 196-foot long snake effigy formed into a cobblestone-like, flat walkway on the top of Skeleton Mountain adjacent to Ft. McClellan. In 2004 and 2007 it was confirmed by archaeologists to have been a Native American construction.” - Alternate Perceptions Magazine -
    So I poked around to find something else by by Dr. Greg, checking out his credibility you might say, and I find: 
Mar 1990 by Gregory L. Little
Paperback $ 11 71 $19.95 - Only 1 left in stock - order soon!
     I guess I poked around a little more for some free information since I wasn't about to buy anything I wouldn't "buy into," if you know what I mean. I had quickly found more:
    “In 2014 I introduced significant evidence for ruins uncovered off the coast of the Bimini and Andros Islands in the Caribbean Ocean. The attached images, are present, unedited, and reveal complexes, and pyramidal structures on the bottom of the ocean. My guest, Dr. Greg Little, working with a grant from A.R.E. made numerous trips to the Caribbean based on the readings of Edgar Cayce, and uncovered startling evidence of high civilization. We'll also discuss the mound builders connection to Atlantis and the pyramids of Central and South America.
   Gregory L. Little, EdD, part Seneca, is author of the authoritative guide to America’s mound sites, Illustrated Encyclopedia of Native American Mounds & Earthworks and co-author of Mound Builders. Both he and his wife (Lora Little) have been featured in documentaries on Discovery, Learning Channel, History Channel, Sci-Fi, MSNBC, and National Geographic.”

    And I remember thinking about TV documentaries, how to spot reliable sources, and how I'd love to see Harry Holstein and other people who seriously study Ceremonial Landscapes get some publicity - and funding -  especially from any of those entities featuring the UFO guy (with the exception of the Sci-Fi Channel) in documentaries that seem to be sending out mixed messages, or "mexed missages" quoting a former president of the United States of America, promoting "junk science" that many people, including myself, think are just a little more than just "tinged" with racism.
   And I thought about how many times over the years that I've attempted to talk seriously about Indigenous Ceremonial Stone Landscapes with some really credible and knowledgeable people whose research has influenced me and wondered how many just assumed I was going to leap into UFO's or Giants or some of the other very silly sort of things that sell much better than than what is more likely the truth about these stones I'm so interested in...

    But still I remember being stuck by that illustration, a Snake (or Great Serpent) Effigy, the jewel on it's head emphasied and the stone "seat" placed nearby and included in the wonderful illustration by Carol Hicks - and those words that I had underlined:  "The present author has seen hundreds of stone walls in the New England states, which were made primarily by Colonial farmers. The stone walls in Alabama are clearly different from those in New England."
     Dr. Greg, I suspect, was clearly either not looking at the same "stone walls" that I look at or really hasn't looked at all. Maybe he had been relying on any of the many works on "New England Stone Walls," based on folklore rather than any real science or close observation...

   Along with the bare bones of the post, I found I had done a little doodling based on Hick's drawing:
Carol Hicks does link to  a version of Harry Holstein's paper:
and so did I, back in 2015:

Monday, October 09, 2017

Indigenous Peoples' Day Message 2017

Published on Oct 8, 2017

A Message Celebrating the Declaration by Northampton and Amherst, MA of the Second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples' Day, replacing Columbus Day. Sacred Lands are under attacks, while First Nation cultures and languages are at risk of extinction, but Native Americans are taking hold of our future through community building, data recovery, education and cultural/historic preservation.

Saturday, October 07, 2017


    “Spirit Stones” or ceremonial stone groupings in English

    Over the years, approaching 27 of them, I’ve been observing stones on the landscape around my home, in my town and well beyond that most people never give a second thought to. “It’s just a rock,” most people say as they shake their head and move along. I’ve had my mental health questioned, sometimes silently but also out loud, from good natured kidding to outright derision, from family and friends to a number of acquaintances and strangers, some of them considered professionals, archeologists and anthropologists, stone masons and surveyors.
    But still I persist and still I search for information about stones on the landscape, ranging from outright fictions to solid science and everywhere in between. Sometimes I’m even pleasantly surprised to find some gratification when I find, in other peoples’ research, some verification of what I’ve been conjecturing about my observations  – sometimes even wondering if I’ve influenced someone’s professional interpretations of stones on the landscape or Ceremonial Stone Landscapes as this science is starting to be known as...

    Here’s one more that I just recently became aware of, some of what is presented leading me to believe someone is paying attention to things I post and link to here on this blog:
“Ceremonial Stone Landscapes of New England and Developing Best Practices to Assess Submerged Paleocultural Landscapes” from the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, a division of the National Park Service.
You can read it here:
You can watch it here:

There's another posting on the site that I think I've linked to before, entitled "Ceremonial Stone Landscapes:"

It also has a YouTube video (the source of the images above):

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Not So Remote Locations

    Don’t get me wrong. There are spectacular Stone Ceremonial Landscape sites in remote locations all over Turtle Island. But as Diane Dix says, “(T)he lithic remains of the Native Americans of New England remained hidden in plain view for centuries.  Many of these features are constructed with stone and blend quietly and reverently into the natural surroundings. Yet, once one awakens to their presence they seem to be everywhere.”
  And I agree with Diane, these stone features seem to be everywhere, especially once you begin to see the repeated shapes and patterns – and all the variations – everywhere you go. Especially when traveling along New England roads where the older Indigenous Stonework remains relatively undisturbed. I pass by openings in stone walls and suddenly notice wonderful examples of big triangular boulders often on both sides of the entryway that once you look more closely resemble Rattlesnake heads. (Such as these or any of these for that matter

   Just lately, I’ve been looking at other people’s photos on social media noting all the different forms of Manitou Stones, from seeming simple triangles to those “head and shoulders” types as well as everything else in between. I’m not sure who named these stones Manitou Stones and can only vaguely tell you what it symbolizes or means, much like I can only vaguely tell you that Manitou is a kind of an essence of life and spirit contained in everything from stars to stones to animals and people and, well, everything.

    So I went looking at posts from this past April (2017) to find some Manitou Stones I just happened to observe while looking to see if a row of stones behind a local hardware store (I was looking out the window by the paint mixer machine at a “stone wall”), not exactly a remote location but still sort of one considering that not too long ago there were more cows than people populating this particular Connecticut town.
Above: Main Street South
Below: The window circled in red and the approximate location of the "Stone Wall"
I tried looking at some old 1934 aerial photos to see if the stones showed in that:
I fooled around a while and tried some tricks with Google Earth, looking for the houses that would put things into perspective (putting north at the top too). That's the row of stones circled in yellow:
So here's the beginning of the row, disturbed a bit at the western end:
Following the row:
Noting some small possible Manitou Stones and observing the stack, somewhat reminiscent of certain stone piling in stone mounds:

And the end stone:
Adding the eye: 
So I turned a little north and west, pondering the boulders I could make out thru the trees:
Closer, photo-bombed by a red dog for perspective:

I couldn't help but notice the sort of rhomboidal shape within the Manitou - and as I looked up there's that sort of sugar loaf shape again in another couple boulders:

It was an eye-opening experience:

Monday, September 25, 2017

First Standing Stone

Above are the two largest Equinox Stones while below is the Solstice Marker, the photos taken from the same place, looking east and north respectively (and respectfully).

    Back in 1990 when I first began to suspect that an Indigenous Cultural Landscape could be found “in plain sight,” as they say, one of the first “notable stones” I came across was a boulder that I suspected marked something, especially when two other boulders and a series of smaller stones connecting them were taken into consideration. 

    Using some Boy Scout skills, backed up by some field observations during several Spring or Vernal Equinox sunsets (the only time the event could be seen through the leafless branches of trees), I also used a compass to complete the triangulation that seemed to suggest that the Summer Solstice sunset was also “marked” by the largest of the three boulders.

Looking back at the Stone (now knocked out of place) that was the "View Stone" from which I conjecture the Solar Events were originally observed to create the Ceremonial Stone Feature, perhaps to "Center One's Self in the Universe."


An old drawing that included the Solstice Standing Stone:
It's also a drawing that was inspired by this illustration from a local history, adding in some stone Burial Mounds that were destroyed/plundered in the mid 1800's:

 I’d have to say that I was influenced by the book Manitou by Mavor and Dix and this illustration:
I recall finding this from Dan Boudillion:
The phrase "Standing Stone" comes up often at the Rock Piles blog, and a search of the site will pull up many examples, including this one:

    Twenty seven years later, I find that I was not too far off base -and that an Indigenous term for this type of Ceremonial Landscape Feature is coming into use:

Above:“Sunśh nip├ímu - (‘marker stone’ Narragansett, Harris and Robinson 2015:140, viz. sunś, ‘stone,’ nipawu ‘stand up,’ Mohegan Nation 2004:100, 83) serve as indicators...” Rolf Cachat-Schilling (2016) -


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Some Old News I Missed

Native Insight: Ancient ceremonial complexes interesting to the inquisitive mind
For The Recorder

Friday, July 21, 2017
A great view of Pioneer Valley from Mount Sugarloaf in South Deerfield. RECORDER STAFF
Ceremonial, spiritual and/or sacred landscape and peculiar stone structures within — all of it buried under forested canopies — all of them are concepts that have gained traction in contemporary anthropological circles.
Such features can potentially mark ancient ceremonial complexes where people gathered for annual open-air rituals, perhaps celebrating the solstice or equinox, maybe spring or fall harvest of fish or nuts or berries or you name it; maybe a burial or crevice from which underground spirits or evil serpents emerge. All of it interesting. Yes, interesting indeed to the inquisitive mind.
Even the likes of Tom Wessels, the well-known, respected author/lecturer on New England stonewalls and forested landscapes, believes that some stonewalls were here before Europeans settlers appeared to set their stakes. Then again, talk to experienced archaeologists as I have, and you’ll find that there are more hits than misses when it comes these curiosities, things like beehives or stone piles or stone rows or rocking stones, buried in the forest, often near the remains of 18th- and 19th-century buildings. Of course, proximity to early dwellings and outbuildings doesn’t necessarily rule out indigenous origin. Often the earliest hilltown farms were built on the footprint of old, seasonal, hunting village sites that were easier to clear than forest. But still, it’s a guessing game when it comes to stone structures, which in no way detracts from the recent fascination among amateur and professional investigators alike.
Which brings us to the fourth annual Pocumtuck Homelands Festival, a Nolumbeka Project brainchild co-sponsored by Turners Falls River Culture, on the shady banks of the Unity Park waterfront in Turners Falls. Buried deep under the Turners Falls dam impoundment are what’s left of the ancient, spiritual fishing falls between Unity Park and Riverside, Gill, just above a radical left-hand turn in the river. There could be no more appropriate Franklin County site for such an event, created to celebrate Native American art, music and culture. This year’s festival is a scant two weeks away, scheduled for Aug. 5 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The crowds for the family affair have grown each year and that trend will likely continue again this year.
A main attraction this year will be Native stone structures and archaeology scholar Tim MacSweeney, creator of the blog “Waking up on Turtle Island,” devoted to Native American ceremonial stone landscapes features and culture. He will be on hand to field questions, evaluate artifacts brought by festival attendees or just to shoot the breeze about deep history of the Northeast.
Last year, it was Mary and James Gage, also well-known, published stone-structure experts. Now MacSweeney. Should be fun.

Bowser Road mastodon excavation

Digging much deeper into the well of time, Dr. Richard Michael Gramly, a paleontologist associated with the Sugarloaf Site — a Paleo archaeological site known in archaeological jargon as the DEDIC Site in Whately — is accepting orders for his new book, “Archaeological Recovery of the Bowser Road Mastodon, Orange County, New York.” It should be fascinating reading, having dug the bones and ivory tools crafted from husks of previous kills at a site in Middletown, N.Y., north and west of New York City.
“The Bowser Road mastodon excavation and subsequent research represents a quantum leap forward and point the way to things to be looked for at each new mastodon find. … It will help set the standard for information possibilities that are new, perhaps even revolutionary,” praises Dr. Russell Judkins in the forward.
With contributions from several experts, Gramly addresses the first Clovis-age mastodon kill and ritual site to be reported for the Americas, contrasting data about bone and ivory artifacts, etc. with records of discovery from Eurasia.
The 365-page study includes nine appendages, nearly 200 color figures, plus tables. The cost is $45 for durable (heavy tab) softcover or $70 for cloth hardcover with dust jacket, plus $8 shipping. All orders can be prepaid to ASAA/Persimmon Press, 455 Stevens St., N. Andover, MA 01845. Books will be shipped in a stout carton by U.S. Postal Service.
I myself have listened to Gramly’s description of what he found at the Orange County, N.Y., site, then his tales over the winter of going through a mass of bones and artifacts collected at the Hiscock Site in western New York and stored in metal lockers at the Buffalo Museum. Mastodons, our ancient elephants, have been extinct in the Americas for at least 12,000 years, but are included in indigenous myth and the archaeological record. The site addressed in the book was uncovered by a farmer digging a bog with a backhoe. Unnerved by the unearthing large bones and later informed by experts that they were those of a mastodon, he stopped digging and eventually put the site up for public auction. Gramly raised the funds needed, became the high bidder and excavated the important site.
Now you can read about the dig and his fascinating observations and hypotheses. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Recorder Sports Editor Gary Sanderson is a senior-active member of the outdoor-writers associations of America and New England. Send your questions, stories about our area to him at:

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Another Turtle Shell Revelation

     I wrote this a little while back:
     "Sometimes there’s a protruding spike sort of thing on a turtle shell, just as in the image above. This has nagged my thoughts for years (meaning that you don't often see this detail on every box turtle you come across, both in person and in other people's images that I lift and use here on this blog)..."
     And just now I took a look at another box turtle photo and said:
          "Oh! There's a little spike at the nuchal notch of this one. "