Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Indian Myths And Effigy Mounds (1889)

 By Rev. S. D. Peet

“Turtle mounds are found scattered along the bluffs to the east of the city, but here they probably mark the sites of cabins which were erected by the people. The turtle is seen in every group which has been found in this vicinity, and seems to have been the chief mound in each…There are twelve groups and about 100 mounds in all, but of this number 21 are Turtle mounds. The groups are so placed that one answers to another from all the hill tops..."

…The totems of other tribes were painted upon the tents or were carved into posts and placed near the doors of the houses or the graves of the dead, but here were built as great earth-heaps, They indicated the name and ancestry of the people. The effigies did the same thing, but in addition they served a practical purpose. They were used as screens for hunters, as defensive walls for villages, as foundations for houses, as mounds for the burial of the dead, and at the same time were representations of the mythologic ideas of the people.

This point we think is clear: whatever the tribe was who built the effigies, that tribe evidently placed its totems or clan emblems on the soil.”
We would here call attention to a peculiar kind of gamedrive. It seems to have been a kind of corral, as if the Moundbuilders had kept domestic animals, and yet it may have been a trap or double screen in which the grazing animals were supposed to feed, but behind which the hunters were supposed to hide. It is well known that elk, moose, and deer feed in low places in winter by scraping away the snow, and that in the summer they resort to the same places where they stamp the ground and beat down the high grass. These game-drives are low places, but near streams. One such we have discovered on the bank of the Turtle, three miles north of Beloit. A mile from this place, nearer Beloit, is the game-drive which is represented in the cut. It is a game-drive for deer, and is arranged for the deer to be driven two or three different ways. We judge it to be a deer-drive from the fact that the panther is the effigy here, the panther being the animal which preys upon the deer. There is a turtle on the low ground and another on the point which is used for a lookout. Our interpretation of it is that the deer was driven from its feeding ground to the game-drive and shot at from both places."
Fig. 160.—Turtles and Panthers in a Game Drive at BcloiL

1 comment:

  1. Herman11:03 AM

    Check out the so-called 'game drive' which is likely anything but. The ground is wrong and the walls would have to be much higher and, in truth, were made from brush. What it sure appears to be is a mound complex outlined by a stone wall which also enclosed a stream it seems. That is saying something about the real function of the place. The 'panthers' he describes are in reality otters, a representation of the underwater animal or spirit and a common shape in Wisconsin. Note what appears to be another wall connecting the conical mounds. I am not sure about orientation on this map, but that may not be real important.