Sunday, March 31, 2013

Bill Gammage

"When European settlers arrived, argues author Bill Gammage, the indigenous people had for thousands of years used sophisticated local fire management to turn many areas in Australia into what these European migrants described over and over again as being very like an English gentleman’s park. Not national parks, mind you. By parks, they meant the carefully tended acres of the landed gentry’s country estates back home...The landscape in those colonial artworks, he writes, was not natural but man-made by indigenous Australians who knew which plants to burn, how hot to make their fires, when to light them — in the dry of summer or the cool, moist winters — and how to keep them under control. They also knew which areas not to burn. Their aim, he says, was to produce the distinctive templates of heavily treed areas neighbouring grasslands, ideal for attracting and ambushing game, like kangaroos.
In areas where indigenous people were dispossessed by European settlers and could no longer tend their land, the trees grew back. And an Australian wilderness began to be brought forth, just a few hundred years ago..." { }.

For Bill Gammage, the whole project of The Biggest Estate on Earth started with a hunch caused by recognising anomalies between what he read and what he saw in the land around him. I can recommend a spot of gammaging in your own chosen landscape over the summer months, not perhaps as a typical holiday pastime, but as an activity that could transform mere scenery into the living cultural mosaic that is right before your eyes.

Read more:

Another Turtle Island

Like Stonehenge (with a road thru it)

Eagle Traps

(I don't know why the text below that accompanies this drawing doesn't read: "It was common for Indians to seek high country locations, conceal themselves in a brush covered stone-lined pit structure, or as the drawing shows, a free standing brush covered stone structure...)  

"...(U)sing Rocky Mountain National Park's passes and trails to catch enemies by surprise or to find better hunting grounds gave both the Utes and the Arapahos cause to enter this region. Other activities occurring in these mountains were probably less dramatic. One lesser known attraction, that of trapping eagles, may have drawn solitary Indians toward these peaks. It was common for Indians to seek high country locations, conceal themselves in a brush covered pit, and lure eagles toward a hunk of meat placed as bait upon the brush. Ethnologist Alfred Kroeber explained: "Only certain men could hunt the eagle. For four days they abstained from food and water. They put medicine on their hands. In four days they might get fifty or a hundred eagles. A stuffed coyote-skin was sometimes set near the bait." [14] Whether the summit of Longs Peak was actually used as an eagle trap, as later Arapaho informants claimed, cannot be verified. The first recorded climbers found no evidence of any pit or other traces of human activity when they arrived at the top of Longs Peak in 1868. Yet other mountains or high country ridges might well have been used for snaring eagles, creatures considered so valuable because of their decorative feathers..."
Here's a free standing possible eagle-trap...
Stone structure thought to be an
eagle-trap, viewed from above.
(photo by Becky Donlan)

I found the photos at, a website about Musick Lodge, a wicki-up - as W.C. Fields would say, where the "... rare and unique wooden structure was reported to the Rio Grande National Forest archaeologists in 2008 by local resident, Mike Musick. The Musick Lodge (5SH3788) was offically recorded this past summer (2009) by teams of archaeologist and volunteers from the Rio Grande National Forest (RGNF). Pike/San Isabel National Forest (P/SINF), and the Dominguez Anthropological Research Group (DARG)." 
Another view of possible eagle-trap, note the incorporation of the large boulder in the foreground into the wall.(photo by Becky Donlan)

Here's another, in Wyoming, possibly for "Not-Very-Tall People:"
I am unsure how it differs from this Vision Quest Site:
Only the people at know for sure at this point.

There are multiple views of a pit style eagle-trap in a series of fine photos by Mr. Stephen T. Shankland starting here:
This is the thumbnail of two traps side by side from the image search below, and the other photos by Mr. Shankland are really great, some friends of his giving perspective to the photos from New Mexico:

"Eagle Trap Nos. 2 and 3; A hike along Burnt Mesa to the three eagle traps on the edge of Frijoles Canyon."

Copyright 2010 Stephen T. Shankland

Saturday, March 30, 2013

No, there is no cure...

"In the greater New England area one thing we are in no shortage of are stone walls.  You’ll see them around historic buildings, in the country on properties, around walkways and homes, built around newer homes, around parks or cemeteries, and at times, in just plain random places.  For example, today I was walking along a lovely area close to the ocean, not far from a park and randomly, there was a stone wall.  Years ago ( 18th and 19th centuries) they were built for dividing property lines and containing both animals and crops.  Today they may be used for the same reasons, but most times they appear to be added for aesthetic reasons.  This stone wall has the green hue of age and there’s no telling how long it’s been there..."

(I should re-do this with effigies rolling their eyes at such a statement, - or perhaps flattered because they are much older that often assumed to be...)

Faces in the Stones

Surfing off of Peter's recent posts { & }, I came across an image in a Google Search that "got me" - this time in a good way.
Above: A photo from:

{From a Flickr Set called: 2008.11 Noanet Woodlands (part of Hale Reservation) that belongs to Wade Roush (the photos, not the woodland) that I found here:}

Mr. Roush starts his photo set with some fine photos of Historic Stonework that sort of recalls stacking stones almost as you would bricks or blocks…

…but then he (and his very good looking dog) walk out along a Rock Wall that is built in a very different manner, something described here and there as an "abandoned wall" or a "primitive wall," depending on what you are reading about New England Stone Fences and who wrote (or plagiarised it):
I think this wall has that “Indian Look,” that placement of stones, that artistic stacking of stones, that recalls the shapes of animals, often just the heads but sometimes the complete animal. What I find most often is the form of the Turtle, perhaps the most easily made sort of Petroform, which may not be all that surprising on a continent that was, and still is, called Turtle Island. I see them as Cultural Icons of the Native Americans who were shaping the landscape (as all cultures do) since at least 3000 B.C. (and probably a lot longer than that), according to the Reservation’s Website {}:

The land now occupied by the Hale Reservation literally abounds with early Indian and colonial history. The main Reservation Road, Carby Street, was originally known as “Old Indian Path” and on early maps it was part of an Indian trail that led from a large Indian settlement in Dedham to Strawberry Hill near the Westwood-Dover line, and on eventually to South Natick. Early records show that the “Plains of Powissett” (the land surrounding Powissett Peak and certain sections of the Charles River) were favorite hunting and fishing grounds of at least six different tribes of the Powissett Indians, and as late as 1763, a few Indian families could still be found in Dover. At least nine ancient, felsite quarry sites have been identified on Reservation land, which indicates that the ancestors of the Powissett Indians also were frequent travelers or residents of the area. The felsite was fashioned into arrowheads, spears, and other objects. Archaeologists from Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology have determined that these sites were being used by ancient man as early as 3,000 B.C. — the date associated with the building of the Egyptian pyramids…”
And of course the “Stone Wall Myth” is repeated once again:
“During the 1700’s, most of the Reservation’s land was cleared of timber and used extensively as pasture. This accounts for the extensive stonewalls throughout the area. They were used to mark property boundaries as well as to confine livestock.”
If you have ever visited this blog before, you might have noticed that I think that there are more Native American made stone “walls” that have either been taken apart to be used elsewhere, carelessly bulldozed or are explained away by the Myth and I’ll keep writing and rewriting this over and over until I get it right and convince at least one person who might take it seriously to get this fact recognized. (A random sample of this ranting occurs in a search of this blog:
And as I say above, Cultural Icons appear in these Indian made stone rows (which are not to be confused with “boulder rows”). And sometimes a human-like face appears in these rows, possibly “spirit faces,” just as they do on stone mounds, just like all the other Icons. The first historic writer claiming to have found these spirit faces called them “Indian God Stones.”

(A photo of Page 173 “Manitou” by Mavor and Dix)
This fine website, Native Stones {}, has a handy list of a few of these effigies:
Rev. Ezra Stiles (president of Yale), The Literary Diary of Ezra Stiles:
·         January 29, 1789: At E. Guilford 28th I visited an Indian Stone God which lay in a Fence about half a Mile East of Mr. Todds Meetinghouse . . . . Mr. Phineas Meigs died about 1781, aged c. 73. He told Rev. Jonathan Todd (born 1713) that he removed this stone God from the Bottom of the Hill at the Edge of the Swamp, and put it into the fence. It was removed about twenty Rods. I judge it a Ton & half weight. Mr. Benjamin Teal gave me an account of a Fort or Inclosure by Earthen Walls about 21/2 Miles N.W. from this Image, 30 or 40 Rods long, two Rods wide Trench, Wall ten feet high Inside next a Swamp & five feet next the Hill, being on a Declivity .
·         May 19, 1789: "View[ed] an Indian Stone God [at Springfield, MA], similar to ours in the College Library.
May 22, 1789: "Visited Rev. Mr. Huntington [at Middletown] who went & showed me another Indian stone God about half a Mile East of his Meetinghouse.
·         September 19, 1794: "[On top of West Rock in New Haven] I spied a carved or wrought stone, which I know to be one of the Indian Gods, of which I have found about or above twenty in different places from Boston to Hudsons River, and particularly between New Milford on West and Medfield Massachusetts on East.
·         October 22, 1793: "Aged Deacon Avery of Groton Pockatunnek tells me that the Mohegan Indians once had Idols : that in the great Reforma 1741 as he called it those Indians brot in & gave up to the English a number of stone & wooden Idols ; & have had & worshipped none since.
I’ve wandered into some places in Woodbridge CT that Stiles also explored and possibly found one he might or might not have noticed as well:

Another in Woodbridge, not so blurry, more human face-like: 

Here’s a photo from Rock Piles, taken by my friend Peter, from that post mentioned before:

I thought I saw a rather human like stone on one of those mounds and cropped it here to show you:
Going back to Mr Roush's fine set of photos, I'll repeat this one:
And show you the detail that "got me," perhaps yet another Spirit Face:

Idiots on Sacred Stones

I'll often take an early morning "surf" from a word or phrase found in Rock Piles (or Secret Landscapes or the New England Antiquities Research Association or a post from almost anywhere, actually) and off I go on a wave of electrons, going places that I'll never actually live long enough to go to, simply because there are so many places to go to.
Many times I am rewarded by something interesting; many times I find something disturbing.
Such as destruction and disrespect of something I consider ancient and Sacred.
Such as these Idiots who have possibly disturbed an ancient grave or memorial stone pile (or cairn or petroform, I sometimes can't decide which) and are now using the Sacred Stones as a bicycle jump.
The Hale Reservation website makes reference to the fact that "Archaeologists from Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology have determined that these sites (referring to the nearby nine different known felsite quarry sites) were being used by ancient man as early as 3,000 B.C. — the date associated with the building of the Egyptian pyramids {
So these fools (who may soon find that the bad luck that will visit a person who does this sort of thing is not something that only happens in a Stephen King movie) might as well be thrill riding mountain bikes up one side of the equivalent of a pyramid and back down the other, apparently with the Reservation's approval. Peter Waksman mentions a rather flippant answer to his question about the knowledge of Indian Stone Constructions by the Reservation in the comments of this post:  Powissett Mounds .

 “On the new trail IF_rider has a Little moment."

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Rocky Mountain High (Places)

“Recent discoveries at alpine sites south of the Park have demonstrated that some camp sites and large game drive systems date between 3850 and 3400 B.C. Even these well-used sites, however, are believed to have been temporary, seasonal camps, with Indians migrating to milder spots during winter. It is suspected that groups of people, primarily extended families, migrated each year from the lower elevations of the foothills up to the high country as seasonal conditions permitted and as wild plants ripened and animals became active.”
“The most intriguing archeological remains from this era are the large stone structures of the game drive systems. Scholars have identified forty-two of these low-walled rock structures at locations along the Front Range crest. They are dry laid stone walls or closely built rock cairns, producing a slight barrier along the natural slopes. Some of these walls may stretch for hundreds of feet in length. One of these structures, for example, lies close to today's Trail Ridge Road. At one time pioneers speculated that these walls were fortifications, used by one tribe to defend its territory against an invader. Today, evidence points toward their use in hunting animals in country devoid of cover. Commonly used in other arctic or tundra environments, these slight walls served as devices that permitted hunters to direct or herd game animals toward men waiting with weapons. Quite a variety of walls were constructed, depending upon the lay of the land. Normally they were built by piling rocks in long rows, forming a perceptible barrier or wall. Sometimes the walls formed a U or V shape or had parallel rows; some also had pits nearby to help conceal an ambushing hunter. It is clear that building these rock-walled drive lines took considerable amounts of time and labor, but it is also assumed that these helpful structures were used repeatedly for centuries.”
“ In addition to using mountain passes for routes of travel, prehistoric people also hunted in the high country. They constructed rock walls to enhance the natural contour of the slopes, creating "game drive systems." Once thought to be Indian "forts" used to defend territory, it is now recognized that these walls allowed concealment in open country and helped guide sheep, deer, or elk toward awaiting hunters. More than forty such U-shaped and funnel-shaped drive systems have been identified along the crest of the Front Range. ”
“ It is probable that twenty to twenty-five people were needed to conduct an animal hunt of this type, with some Indians driving the mountain sheep or elk toward awaiting hunters poised to kill. Spears tipped with razor sharp stone points, or darts thrown with an atlatl or spear thrower may have been used to kill the animals. Mule deer, mountain sheep, elk, and bison became the primary animals hunted. ”
This text is from Rocky Mountain National Park: a History by Curt Buchholtz. Used with permission. This excellent book may be read online or purchased from the Barnes and Noble online bookstore.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

"Placing" of Identity

The "Placing" of Identity in Nomadic Societies:

Aboriginal Landscapes of the Northwestern Plains of North America

Michael C. Wilson
"Natural landscapes are appropriated, organized, and named by people, whose activities are localized to places and are thus transformed into cultural landscapes. Material culture comprises the continuum in the artifact–feature–site–landscape complex that has so often been viewed as mere residuals of human behaviour. But artifacts possess symbolic content and contexts that can be studied from a semiotic perspective as media of communication, as stimulants and reinforcements of cultural values and behaviour, and as signs of ethnicity.2 Further, a taphonomic perspective studies the temporal trajectories of past material culture: the past context within which an artifact, structure, site, or landscape was created; the contexts within which it functioned and was modified or edited; and the neocultural context within which it functions today.Thus, past landscapes may be reconstructed and interpreted as "heritage landscapes" in which each occupant group has left a definable "heritage footprint" advertising their distinctive presence and identity. These footprints overlap and interact, resulting in a virtual palimpsest of overlapping presences in the landscape...
Until recently, there had been few detailed studies of the cultural landscapes generated by hunting-and-gathering groups such as those of the North American Plains. In part, this is because archaeologists and anthropologists have been obsessed with specific sites as opposed to their "environment," which has been treated as being external to culture. For their part, geographers have been slow to acknowledge the role of aboriginal populations in establishing extensive cultural landscapes. They have been portrayed as inhabiting culturally modified "islands" within a wilderness "sea" or, worse still, as inconsequential actors in the long-term structuring of those landscapes.5 This has been complicated by the fact that, so often, the humanly built structures in hunter-gatherer landscapes are of limited extent and tend to reflect the natural setting rather than being strongly differentiated from it..." 

Shasta Trails

Inca Trail from:

Shasta Trails from Alyssa Alexandria:


terrace may refer to:

Terraced hay field  Upper Mississippi Region (Region 5). 
Stone bounded terrace, Woodbury CT???
Fairly level with at tall almost retaining wall sort of massive stone row at it's western edge...
That southern row is zigzag, extending west from a bedrock out crop, the level "terrace" to the right (N):
 Does it look like
 "Stones Thrown Up Against Wooden Snake Fence" or Carefully Constructed?

That northern row leads to an outcrop:

And another row and another outcrop and another "terrace," althought not as level...