Monday, March 10, 2008

It's Time to "Wake Up"

I went back to my second post ( of “Waking Up on Turtle Island” to “copy and paste” this quote in order to repost it once again.

“Native people’s histories and stories have been told by others – rather dispassionately at times and not always with accuracy. Something is missing when we cannot and do not know our true past. Something is terribly wrong when our past is not accurately recounted,” Trudie Lamb Richmond writes in Enduring Traditions; the Native Peoples of New England, edited by Laurie Weinstein.

And also to repost this from my very first post, explaining why this blog is called “Waking Up on Turtle Island:”
“It's been many years since I woke up to the fact that I live in a special place on Turtle Island.Not that I was actually asleep for a long period of time, but rather I gradually became aware that remnants of ancient stonework was all around me, dismissed as Colonial construction, but really (were actually) part(s of or, more accurately “remnants of,” that remain still to today) of a managed cultural landscape that may be hundreds or thousands of years old.”

To go back to 1991 when I first met Trudie, I should add that she mentioned a book she had heard of called “Manitou,” that also suggested that there existed remnants of, as the full title of the book says, “The Sacred Landscape of New England’s Native Civilization.”
I ordered the book since I couldn’t find it in any libraries nearby and got it just in time to take with me on a family camping trip to Burlingame State Park in Rhode Island. It was a life changing experience to read that book in that place – and then to walk trails in the greater Charlestown area, following stone rows of all sorts. In particular I remember following one, inside the park itself, that was a spiral – a motif I’d seen before as petroglyphs and designs on Indian baskets.

The very first page I read in James Mavor and Byron Dix’s “Manitou” also led me to seek out a group they sent acknowledgements to, The New England Antiquities Research Association, or NEARA ( ), which is how I first met Peter Waksman (, who in turn introduced me to Norman Muller at a NEARA conference in Danbury CT.

I was very lucky to say the least to make all these associations.

I was also very relieved to find that other people were seeing the same things as I.

My family was probably very relieved to find I was not delusional and thus mentally ill, ready to be taken away by the men in white coats – if they still wear those white coats and all like they do in old movies.

The sad part is that 17 years later for me (and much, much longer for others), the scientific community, for the most part, remains hostile to the idea that there still remains, on “Turtle Island,” an incredible amount of stonework that represents perhaps thousands and thousands of years of remnants of a Sacred Cultural Landscape, some of it hidden but also in plain sight along the scars of the present Cultural Landscape of the last five hundred years.

And I’ll add, “While more and more of it, through ignorance and prejudice, disappears every day.”

While there are some enlightened and courageous individuals doing ground breaking work to combat the bigotry of the scientific community, like Dr. Fredrick Meli ( for example, I think that the time has come for that community to “Wake Up On Turtle Island,” so to speak.

After all, the empirical evidence is literally “written in stone.”


  1. Nicely written, Tim. You've been at this longer than I have, by about four or five year, and I agree that we have not made much of a dent in convincing the "scientists" (I'm not convinced that archaeology is a science)that there are thousands of examples of Indian stonework right in their back yard, so to speak. I believe that progress is being made however, even though it is in small, incremental steps. Whether this is enough or in time to prevent the destruction of sites through development, ignorance or plain greed, I'm not sure. Certainly the benefit that the Internet brings is very important, in that communication is wide and almost instantaneous, and there are more out there exploring the woods of the Northeast. We just have to remain a strong voice in opposition to insensitive development and ignorance.

  2. Thanks Norman for the kind words. Sometime in the past I think I mentioned to you, or at least intended to, that I started out as a "Furniture Refinisher" back in 1976 and slowly educated myself on becoming a Antique Furniture Conservator," adopting the ethics and techniques used by museums that maintain the value of antiques by using proper methods - rather than the Zip Strip and Polyurathane or sprayed Laquer "quick/fast" methods that have ruined and devalued so many rare and beautiful pieces of antique furniture - because it's quicker and faster and less expensive. I employ the same methods of looking for patterns of missing pieces of carvings - or of many of the painted pieces I've worked on - to the remnants of the stone work I see at the very rare and unique relatively undeveloped Village site I am lucky to live by - or on actually, thinking of the stone rows and mounds in my yard.