Thursday, August 30, 2012

Indians vs Cowboys and the Stone Wall Myth

The Stone Wall (altho' in California they like to say Rock Walls) Myth Again

      I was tracking down the aerial image of the place my friend Alyssa calls the Red Spirit Site, a high meadow in the Mt. Shasta area, when it suddenly occurred to me that here's a fine example of a common sense approach to understanding the difference between the ancient stone rows and modern fences. On the left of the image above, on the hill, are the Ceremonial Stone Rows seen up close in the post "Red Spirit, Near Mt. Shasta CA" { }. On the right are the "fence lines" of a ranch, which I'd guess are probably posts and barbed wire - or perhaps electric fences. Up in the top right hand corner is a possible exception: looks like an interrupted stone row where there maybe wire fencing and posts added alongside of (or possibly even wedged into the stones of) a stone row - the missing pieces now someone's fire place or garden wall, sold off by the rancher or stolen without his permission.
      Consider the human history of this area: Evidence of human occupation of California dates from at the very least 17,000 BCE, with fine-tuned adaptations to local environments. In remote interior regions, like this little area of land near Mt. Shasta, some tribes did not meet non-Natives until the mid-19th century, the time of the California Gold Rush (1848–1855). Barbed wire was invented and marketed about 1875, about 20-30 years or so later.
     A little Common Sense sort of question might be: "Which group had the time alone to build the miles and miles of stone rows and all the rest?"
      Another Common Sense thing to consider is the human tendency to take the easy way out of any situation, especially when it comes to building fences. The usual progression is usually the fast and easy split rail fences, sometimes those zigzag postless fences called snakes fences or worm fences, whose origin is sometimes thought to be an imitation of Native American hunting fences.
      Eric Sloane was kind enough to illustrate many of these fences:
      I lifted some images here and there - and many from here, showing these fences way out west: { } where you'll find an abundance of photos of wooden rail fences...

...some still hanging around today, handy for stapling barbed wire to.
Ron Smith's photos show a wide variety of modern/historic wire fencing that both makes use of the stone rows or else shows that the stone rows were not the best idea for containing livestock, suggesting that another culture was modifying the landscape for different purposes.
You'll see the details better if you open these in a new window with a right click o'the mouse or use the link to see the photos at Ron's site {  }.
For example:

     I don't know exactly what is going on in the first photo, but the second, I think, clearly illustrates a stone fire break that is also a path that is also full of symbolic representations of Native American Cultural Icons, separating sections of an oak grove that were maintained by Ceremonial Renewal burning  when the time was right to do so. The metal posts and barbed wire strands are the easier and less expensive evidence of the Modern Cowboy or Ranch Hand in the current Cultural Landscape.
     I also pretend not to know why no one bothers to read the abundant amount of Ethnographic accounts that exist about the Native American cultures of the area that include first hand accounts of stone building by Native People, from John Muir to Alfred Kroeber and to the many people presently interested in the truth about these "stone walls" - other than the fact that it may be related to property rights and the theft of land from Native American People, coming right back to Indians vs Cowboys... 

( If you are wondering, "What's the stone wall myth?" I would suggest you click here: )

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Red Spirit, Near Mt. Shasta CA

Photos from Alyssa, probably soon available as a new gallery at

and this one might be a condor:

The Red Spirit site seems to me to be very similar to other sites mentioned in my recent post
that linked to this post
that featured a Condor Sculpture shown here:
(Carl Bjork photo)

An exerpt from
Wings of the Spirit: The Place of the California Condor Among Native Peoples of the Californias
by John W. Foster, Senior State Archaeologist
"Ceremonial Importance: There is scattered evidence of the ritual use of California condors through much of the Californias. The sacrifice of these birds seems to have been widespread. In general, this served to transfer the power of the bird sacrificed to those engaged in its ritual killing. Possibly the condor's association with the dead (being a carrion eater), led to its incorporation into mourning activities and renewal ceremonies... Perhaps the most detailed description of condor ceremony in southern California comes from the Panes (or bird) festival of the Luiseño. It was described by Friar Boscana of Mission San Juan Capistrano and by Friar Peyri of Mission San Luis Rey in the early 19th century. Similar ceremonies were held by the Gabrilieño, Cahuilla, Kumeyaay and Cupeño (Kroeber 1907; 2002).
The Panes (clearly a California condor from its description) is brought to the festival and placed upon an altar constructed for the purpose. The bird had been captured as a nestling, with condor nest sites being owned by the village. It was raised with great care until fully grown and selected for the sacrifice. Slowly, along with much crying and grimaces, the captive birds are killed by strangulation or pressing the heart. The bird's skin was removed in one piece and the flesh thrown on a fire. Skins and feathers were used to decorate venerated objects for the annual mourning ceremony. California condor skins were also used to make skirts that were retained as important ritual objects by their native owners (Bates 1993:41; Bates 1982). It should be noted that eagles were also sacrificed and some have argued (Geiger and Meighan 1976) that it was the Golden Eagle that was most powerful. Most experts have concluded that California condors held a unique place in the ceremonial life of California natives, and that eagles were used more commonly during the historic period as condor populations declined (Simons 1983, Bates 1993).

California condors could infuse humans with special powers. Vultures and condors, with their keen eyesight, were considered expert at finding lost objects. Among the Western Mono and Yokuts tribes, "money finders" wore full-length cloaks of condor feathers that reputedly enabled them to find lost valuables (Snyder and Snyder 2000:38). This power was extended to finding missing persons among condor shamen of the Chumash.

California condors also played a part in cosmic events. Among the Chumash, condors or eagles were sacrificed based on which celestial body was prominently visible at the time of the ceremony. Eagles were selected for rituals concerned with the Evening Star (Venus), while condors were chosen for rituals associated with the planet Mars (Hudson and Underhay 1978:88; Simons 1983)."

Alyssa's photo of the view from Red Spirit:

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Turtle & Bear (Same Stone)

Above: a possible turtle.
Below: backing up (North) whilst looking South...
Circling around to look West, that turtle begins to look like a bear...
Closer and closer...

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Rain On My Kahus (Bear)

by Millennium Twain on January 16, 2010

"The whole greater Matilija-Ojai Valley region is a StoneHenge, ‘Hanging-down-from-the-Sky’ sacred site, home to tens of thousands of subtly, and not so subtly, Giant Carved Stones, and mountains. faces, effigies, profiles, figure-sculptures, ranging from a few feet in length to hundreds of meters in length. Much of the pantheon of Todas Las Cosas, all our relations, including the Sky Deities, Pacific Ocean life, and more, is found here. On top, or underneath, that are tens or hundreds of millions of smaller effigy and sacred stones, once held in the pouches of astronomer/astrologer/healer/rainmaker shamans, grandmothers, leaders, and all peoples … or kept in front of their homes, or at sacred sites, or kept on necklaces, or buried with them in ceremony. The Stone People speak, sing the tens of thousands of years of Stone Age oral tradition, and art, culture, and ‘architecture’, and are here as an infinite outdoor museum and university of the sacred wisdom ways of humans-kind, the harmonies of all spiritual traditions, of all times …".

Wings of the Spirit: California Condor

The Place of the California Condor Among Native Peoples of the Californias
John W. Foster
Senior State Archaeologist
"Other painted sites within Chumash territory have also produced avian images thought to be condors (Grant 1965).  At Pool Rock, for example, a winged design is centrally placed among white, red and black elements. At Chumash Painted Cave, the winged design is mixed among other symbols in a complex panel. Nearby in the Carrizo Plain exists a natural sandstone outcrop sculpted into a shape resembling a condor's head.  It is joined by the head of Coyote. The feature is embellished with red designs, which have survived only in the protected niches.  The site was recently identified as a sacred condor site by a Chumash elder (Carl Bjork, personal communication). Red designs decorate the condor's neck.  This has been identified as a sacred site. (Carl Bjork photo)"
Flutes made from the wing bones of the California Condor have been found in
central California archaeological sites.  These are incised with intricate designs.