Thursday, February 26, 2015

Rocks (with Names) as Seen on TV (and in Movies)

      As the coldest and snowiest month in recorded Connecticut weather history draws to an end, I find myself looking forward to the snow melting more than I ever have before. Maybe it’s just that I’m getting older, entering my 60th year on the planet, that also makes me pretty sure this is the longest February that there has ever been. I never did write up a little highlight of the year 2014, probably because this spring will mark 25 years of a different way of looking at stone features on the New England landscape, after “Waking Up on Turtle Island,” seeing instead of “farmer’s walls and clearing piles” but rather stone features that may possibly be remnants of the Indigenous Cultural Landscape of Turtle Island.
      So I’m gonna offer up a little Cabin Fever Reliever since I suspect many of us have come down with the malady, a little look at what just might be a familiar landscape to you. Someone has taken a lot of time to research and visit these places, sometimes giving certain rocks and/or stones names, some of which may even actually be Indigenous origin – or at least sound like they could be. It’s a pretty widespread sort of thing in the Indigenous way of thinking, naming stone features for a variety of reasons, as places where history is remembered or where spirits live etc.

     What is really ironic about this place is that many stereotypes about Indians were sometimes created and most often certainly reinforced at the Iverson Ranch (sort of near Burbank CA) where all sorts of TV and Movies were filmed. Looking at some of the photos, I think I see layers of Cultural Landscapes there, just as I do here (under all that snow).
     Some samples:
Mandatory Anthropormorphic Face or Skull:
"The Phantom"
Above: The Devil's Doorway
Below: "Ophiomorphic Doodles" on the Doorway 
(Compare to Photo #2 above)

So if you are cooped up in the cabin and feel so inclined, check this out in person:

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Mooney's Deer Head Uktena and some Loubser

Thanks, Tommy Hudson, for the J. Loubser link you referred to. I have been trying to remember (for about 5 years!) the source of a story about a deer head on a serpents body ever since seeing the stone above, with no provence, other than it came from a stone wall ( Turns out it was Mooney:
     “At dawn, when the grandmother stared into the dark âsĭ (Women's Moon Lodge), she saw that her grandson shape-shifted into a giant horned serpent, or Uktena, curled up like a fetus within the cramped space. With human legs and deer head attached to a reptilian body, the partly transformed snake boy slithered through the settlement to a deep pool at a nearby bend in the river, where he disappeared under the water. Being a medicine person like her grandson, the grandmother eventually entered the pool too (Mooney 1900:304).”
Myths of the Cherokee. Nineteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology,
1897-98. Part 1, Government Printing Office: Washington D.C.

J. Loubser quotes the passage in:
The Socio-Economic and Ritual Contexts of Petroglyph Boulders in the Southeastern United States.
 Seemingly unimportant stories that southeastern Indians have shared with ethnographers often turn out to be critical in understanding the rituals and religious experiences of the Indians. Recent research on petroglyph boulders and ethno-histories in the region suggests that instead of being direct recounting of specific mythological stories, the production of petroglyphs in the Southern Appalachian Mountains is related to going-to-water purification rituals shared by most southeastern Indians, regardless of language. Prior to any major economic or social undertaking or personal event, such as planting, harvesting, hunting, marrying, raiding, gambling, ball playing, and menstruating, southeastern Indians felt obliged to contact or supplicate spirit beings living beyond a thin "veil." To contact the beings in the spirit world, all southeastern Indians did some degree of fasting, sweating, and washing in a river or creek. Various Cherokee, Creek, and Yuchi stories mention this in one way or another, ranging from myths to everyday events. What was said in these accounts and what were portrayed in the glyphs had a feed-back on the perpetuation of the Indians’ beliefs and practices. The socio-economic roles of the slant-eyed master-of-game, the horned-serpent, and their spirit being consorts are discussed in relation to depictions of them and their underworld abodes. Generally speaking, the normally hidden underworld domain of these spirit beings was made visible for all to see through the pecking of pertinent designs onto rock surfaces; petroglyphs gave inner mental constructs an outer physical expression. The correspondence between pecked motifs on the boulders with prominent features on the surrounding landscape supports Indian claims that the petroglyph boulders are three-dimensional picture maps of the surrounding spirit world.
“Subsistence and other aspects of everyday life among the southeastern Indians were closely tied to rituals that they believed facilitated their communication with spirit beings. The Indians believed that all of nature was animated as part of a great whole from which they have not completely separated themselves. Although the Indians viewed themselves as masters of animated things, they were nonetheless dependent on rocks, plants, and animals for their livelihood and asked pardon whenever they took and used these things for their sustenance. They believed that like humans, all things survived after death in the spirit world, which was located below the ground and beyond the sky vault (e.g., Mooney 1900:445-446). Cherokee and Creek hunters sung deer and bear songs on reaching the hunting ground (Mooney 1900:435), which was often marked by a change in landscape or altered features, such as petroglyph boulders (Parris 1950:37). When Judaculla, the Master of Game, was invoked in hunting prayer songs, the hunter first prayed to the fire, from which he drew his omens; then to the reed, from which he made his arrows; followed by prayers to Judaculla; and finally to the very animals he intended to kill (ibid. 342). Mooney (1900:455) noted that even when everyday Indians went digging hematite for red paint or chert for arrowheads, they first had to make a prayer beside the outcrop and hang a small gift upon a nearby bush or stick before quarrying. The southeastern Indians believed that spirit beings resembling humans and talking animals, lived both in mounds and in mountain tops and at bottom of river pools from which they enter and exit the everyday world through portals. Among these Indians, isolation, prayer, and fasting were prime requisites for obtaining clearness of spiritual vision of the spirit world and its beings. Fasting normally only lasted one day, from midnight to sunset, but on occasions of communal importance specialist religious functionaries fasted for longer periods (Mooney 1900:480). To become a medicine person among the Creeks, students had to fast in isolation for 12 days within a winter house and chew on the bitter-tasting root of the Sou-watch-cau plant for inducing visions (Hawkins 1982:78-79). To obtain a vision of the spirit world within the mountains and river pools was to obtain a spirit guide and protector (Mooney 1900:321, 470). Even though the southeastern Indians did not incorporate vision questing as a rite of passage into adulthood, hunters and medicine people seemed to develop close relationships with specific rocks, plants, or animals. The importance of altered states in southeastern Indian religious experience should not be underestimated. According to Mooney (1900:492), every Indian ritual was supposed to be in accordance with “direct instruction from the spirit world as communicated in a vision” or dream. A story of how dreams and so-called going-to-water ritual ensured success in the hunt illustrates the link between altered state encounters and hunting success. The story recounts how an unsuccessful hunter had a strange dream “so vividly that it seemed to him like an actual happening” (Mooney 1900:323). Upon waking up the hunter found a single stalk of corn, Selu, telling him to wash in the river before everyone was awake, and then to go out again into the woods, and he would kill many deer and from that time on would always be successful in the hunt.
Tightly constructed and generally dark and warm structures used during going-to water rituals all contained centrally-located fire places, and came in different sizes, ranging from the small private âsĭ through medium-sized family winter houses to large communal townhouses (Adair 1930:453). Among the Muskogee Creeks, a round big-house always stood west of their square ground, and was known as the tcokofa or town “hot house” (Swanton 1928a:59). The Indians viewed such structures as places of re-birth, where transitions from one state to another occurred. For instance, communal Green Corn rituals marked the annual summer-end harvest, monthly rituals celebrated the appearance of the new moon, menstruating and pregnant women regularly secluded themselves in an âsĭ, warriors purified themselves in townhouses prior to and after raids, medicine men retired to such structures preparing their teams for ball games or to make rain or heal patients. The predominantly domed roofs of hothouse structures were equated to the back of a turtle and the fire at its center as the turtle’s head. Amy Walker, a Cherokee medicine woman from North Carolina, says that entering an âsĭ lodge is returning to the mother’s womb and crawling out is being re-born (North Carolina Museum of History 2011). The turtle allusion is a reference to the animal’s natural ability to move between dry land and water; contrasting physical locations are apt metaphors of changes in bodily and mental states. Yuchi stories of transformation have medicine people riding turtles (Wagner 1931:77) and terrapins (Speck 1909:147) across rivers, normally at the edge of settled areas. Center and periphery within settlements and built structures are spatial metaphors for changes in states. It is worth noting that the periphery is defined by the angle from which the structure is approached or viewed. When approached from the side, the east-facing entrance and dark western end marked the points of transition, while when viewed from the bottom or top, the smoke vent in the roof and fire place on the floor were the portals. Being located on one side of an inhabited settlement, the structures in turn were in liminal positions. As will be seen in the discussion below, petroglyph boulders typically occurred at transition points on the landscape that surrounded the settlements, marking boundaries and associated changes when crossing into the sacred terrain of spirit beings.
As “places of passage,” âsĭs, winter houses, tcokofas, townhouses, square grounds, and nearby rivers were mentioned in stories associated with physical transformation, commonly referred to as shape-shifting. Stories mentioning shape-shifting range from those told by everyday people to those sacred myths recounted by ritually pure priests and medicine people. It is everyday stories of medicine people who shape-shifted into animals that particularly highlight the hot house and a nearby river as a transformative space. A dramatic example of such a transformation is a Cherokee story of a hermit boy who changed into a giant snake while spending the night in his grandmother’s âsĭ. At dawn, when the grandmother stared into the dark âsĭ, she saw that her grandson shape-shifted into a giant horned serpent, or Uktena, curled up like a fetus within the cramped space. With human legs and deer head attached to a reptilian body, the partly transformed snake boy slithered through the settlement to a deep pool at a nearby bend in the river, where he disappeared under the water. Being a medicine person like her grandson, the grandmother eventually entered the pool too (Mooney 1900:304). The Creeks also believed that the horned serpent was once a human who shape-shifted while encamped within a structure or around a fire near a river (e.g., Grantham 2002:25, 211-220).

The Cherokees believed that thunder was a horned snake within the rain which connected the sky vault, the human-built houses on earth, and the underground or underwater townhouses (Mooney 1900:481). Mythical stories like this portrayed a tiered cosmos in which similar structures and deities were nested at different levels, but yet interconnected via portals, such as sweat lodge entrances (including front doors, smoke vents, and fire pits), river pools, and caves leading into mountain tops (Figure 2).”
Representation of nested townhouses on the southeastern Indian landscape.
One of the petroglyph boulders at the confluence of the Hiwassee River and Brasstown Creek succinctly shows how its placement amplifies its significance. A pecked mammal with a curly tail resembles Mississippian period depictions of water panthers on mollusk shells (e.g., Fundaburk and Fundaburk Foreman 1957:plate 26), while the juxtaposed coiled snake with horned head is most likely a horned-serpent (Figure 7). As already mentioned, the horned serpent was a reptilian version of a feline, both in Cherokee (Zeigler and Grosscup 1883:22) and in Creek (Swanton 1928a:70-71, Swanton 1929:21-22) traditions. Numerous southeastern Indian accounts mention that the favored abodes of water panthers and horned-serpents are river pools, very much like the one in which the petroglyph boulder is located. In Muskogee Creek traditions, both the water panther (Swanton 1928a:70-71, Swaton 1929:21-22) and horned-serpent (ibid. 71- 72) caused the square ground and townhouse of Coosa Town to be flooded. Ever since the flooding event, the medicine woman spouse, medicine person offspring, and medicine people affiliated to the water panther and horned-serpent have made the submerged townhouse their home. Across the southeastern woodlands powerful and qualified medicine people went to the edges of river pools that contained submerged townhouses similar to that of Coosa in order to make a water panther or water-serpent to appear (e.g., Grantham 2002:26). Bones that these medicine people allegedly collected from water panthers or horns cut from horned-serpents were considered to be war medicine with great potency (e.g., Hawkins 1982:78-80, Mooney 1900:300, 396). The belief that panthers and snakes see well at night or below water probably has something to do with their potency in war-time conjuring. According to Mooney (1900:458- 459), the name Uktena is derived from akta, or eye, and implies being a “strong looker,” as everything is visible to it (i.e., it can see thoughts). From the same root is derived akta'tĭ, “to see into closely” which is also the Cherokee word for a magnifying lens and telescope. So the name Uktena implies that it sees thoughts and it does so in an accurate way; knowledge that comes in useful to predict enemy tactics. The horns and crystal on the Uktena’s head are called ulstĭtlĭ', literally “it is on its head,” but when they are in the hands of the medicine person it becomes ulûñsû'tĭ, or “transparent.” So considered together, the changing names and contexts for Uktena horns and crystals imply that the thoughts on the head of the snake became transparent to the person who possessed it. 
Concluding Remarks:
Southeastern Indians viewed painting or incising their own bodies as a sacred act, one which was normally accompanied by prayers, often also involving fasting and going to water in a fairly isolated setting (Mooney 1900:469). Knowing that the Indians did the same when quarrying rock for ocher or chert (ibid. 455), the act of pecking or even visiting select boulders was accompanied by a similar set of ritual observances (see Parris 1950:36). That the southeastern Indians conducted their petroglyphs at transition points on the landscape, normally along old trails or river corridors (Loubser 2009a), re-enforces other transformative acts associated with such liminal locales. Whereas imprints of feet and vulvas at Track Rock signified fecundity and abundance, an imprint of Judaculla’s hand in Judaculla Rock warned hunters that they should properly fast and go to water before entering his domain farther up the mountain. Depictions of water panthers and horned-serpents signified the potentially destructive side of the spirit beings, the places where they lived, and the objects they were associated with. Similar to powerful medicine people and menstruating or pregnant women, things such as panther bones, serpent horns and crystals, and places such as petroglyphs and associated mountains and pools, were only beneficial to those who had proper training, experience, and observance of proper ritual conduct. It is for this reason that these powerful people, artifacts, and places were usually kept slightly apart, lest they come into contact with everyday people and wreak havoc.
Enhanced photo showing water panther and horned-serpent at the Hiwassee-Brasstown confluence (Scott Ashcraft).
    Overall, the normally hidden underworld domain of the potent spirit beings was made visible for all to see through the pecking of pertinent designs onto rock surfaces; petroglyphs gave shifting inner mental experiences a fixed outer physical appearance.”

Monday, February 23, 2015

“Stone Walls” on a Formerly Fire Tended Cultural Landscape

“Well, Heck,” someone might respond, “That’s not what I heard about stone walls.”

     Like removing layers of paint on some old piece of furniture, I’ve been mentally stripping away the newest of changes in the landscape furniture (as they say) for about 25 years now, trying to picture the pre-contact Cultural Landscape around me. When I walk fence lines, a great deal of it made of stacked stone, mentally removing a lot of barbed wire, I sometimes find something in there that suggests an anthropomorphic (human-like) or zoomorphic (animal-like) artistic creation, as well as perhaps a small mortar or grinding slick (sometimes with the other hand held stone resting on it), not just in one spot but in multiple places. And sometimes segments of these rows of stones begin in another possibly zoomorphic representation, very reminiscent of a snake head, which if you took into account the widespread Indigenous belief in Great or Horned Serpent, you might be tempted to interpret that stone row as an Ophiomorphic Petroform from the pre-contact period.
    I keep leaving more and more “stone walls” on that imaginary landscape – in fact I suspect so much more has been removed- and continues to be removed.
     In the last thirty of forty years, the idea that the western hemisphere was mostly virgin wilderness, like those Puritans were so eager to tell about in what they were calling New England is being discredited (unlike all that 100% true stuff about witches). Earlier European visitors described the area as too crowded to consider making any settlements themselves.
        Charles C. Mann in 1493 includes some maps, one interpretation of fire cleared “Deforested” areas:

     I suspect that patches of mast forest existed in those “Areas cleared by Indians.” Mann again:
    But all that changed:

    Riddiman goes on to say that the result was “What historians call the Little Ice Age.” (See:

     So ask yourself a few questions:
      Is there any reason Indigenous People might have a need to build those things we have been taught to think of as stone walls?  
      What role(s) could Indigenous made and maintained rows of stone serve on a Pre-contact Indigenous Fire Tended Cultural Landscape?
      Would any pragmatic function of Indigenous stonework be considered a “dire need,” such as need for fuel breaks in a crowded corner of Turtle Island?
      Knowing Indigenous People here did not separate the Spiritual world from "the land we eat from," can patterns of stacking along with inclusions of possible effigies be observed in the stonework that is similar to designs found in other Indigenous artwork, infusing the Spiritual attributes, the Manitou, of various magical beings such as the Great Serpent or Grandmother/Grandfather Turtle (or the animals who also live and "eat" there - bears, deer and birds etc.) into the object itself, things like ceramic pottery, other rock art, beading and so much more?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Effigies as a source of protection to agricultural fields

     So the other day I’m gliding along some frozen New England roads, snow mounds along both sides of the road, bigger mounds piled at intersections, - and suddenly it occurs to me that this could almost be a fine way to illustrate or at least imagine the stone rows along all those suspected Indian Trails I believe I am observing, trails bordered with a stone fuel break, complete with a big serpent’s head where the trails meet. Lately I’ve been pondering the possible serpentine, and therefore probable Indigenous, origin of “stone walls.” I’m thinking these days that the rows of stones containing effigies are also larger effigies – especially if I come across a single boulder or group of stones that resembles a snake or serpent head’s.

     I’ve been thinking about a certain place I know where a bunch of possible serpents stretch across a little first terrace hillside above the big floodplain, some land still in active agricultural use, but with a history I suspect to be far older than that, working on drawings with too much information, but very similar to this one I just made:
     So I just happen to be browsing around and find an entry with the keywords “effigy and agricultural field” from just a hundred years ago or so by Stephen Denison Peet in Prehistoric America, Volume 2 (1890)
      “Effigies as a source of protection to agricultural fields have been alluded to. Illustrations of this are numerous. The garden beds and corn-fields at Indian Prairie and Forest Home, near Milwaukee, were protected by intaglio effigies. There are cornfields on the west shore of Lake Koshkonong, near the residence of Mr. Rufus Bingham…

(The author refers to some eagle effigy mounds as surrounding possible fields: “stretched along at right angles on the bluff of the river, itself forming a wall between the river and a swale and guarding the bluff from approach. Within this wall the ground seemed to be broken as if there had been garden beds or corn fields. Possibly the effigies were designed as a fence to protect the corn fields. This was on the farm of Mr. Eaton. There were other mounds about a half mile north of the line, but they had been obliterated and could not be surveyed (93).”)

     “…Here the corn hills are on the low ground between two points which extend out toward the lake. On one point was the remains of an old French trading-point, cellar, stone chimney and other relics. On the other point are conical mounds arranged in such a shape as to give the idea that there was formerly a Mound-builders' village there. In the rear of both is a large group of effigy mounds, a group which extends along the line of the highlands partially surrounding the corn-fields. An old trail passes through this group. It would appear from history that there was a Winnebago village on one side and a Fox village on the other, the effigies being near the Winnebago village, but round mounds near the Fox village.
We speak about this particular locality where there were corn-fields and garden beds because we know that there were various superstitions about the raising of corn. In fact, everything that had life about it was regarded as being a gift from the master of life, and the soil itself was regarded as a source of life. There are many places where garden-beds were protected by animals, sometimes the figures thus protecting them are clan emblems but sometimes they are mounds which have a peculiar shape.

 In one place we found the garden-beds protected by a massive serpent, or rather by a natural ridge which had been modified and mounded so as to resemble a serpent. We do not know as there was any connection between this serpent ridge and the superstition about the weather divinities, and yet it is a remarkable fact that among the Dakotas the serpent is a symbol both of the lightning and of the rain. This great serpent was near Mayville and was a very peculiar object. It may have been a mere coincidence, and yet taken with other things it looks as if it embodied the native myth.”
Now I had just been messing with the idea of a drawing of that hillside first terrace that looks like this when I quickly add in grey some paint program doodlings of the possible serpent petroforms:
Is it just a strange coincidence or might some great serpent ideas be portrayed in stone rather than an earth mound at the edge of agricultural fields??

Peet writes on about the serpent: “The superstition about the serpent is next to be considered. Here we come in contact with a very remarkable coincidence. The serpent effigy is found in Ohio, in Wisconsin and in Dakota, three places where the tribe of Dakotas are supposed to have been located. There is this peculiarity about all of these, they are conformed to the shape of the land on which they are situated, the natural and the artifical shape both giving the idea that the serpent divinity haunted the spot. Whether this is a conception which is peculiar to the Dakotas or not, it is a very remarkable coincidence that these effigies should appear in the places where the Dakotas have lived, and only in those places…
The great serpent in Adams County has an altar in the very center of the body and the shape of the serpent corresponds to the shape of the ridge, the effigy having been placed upon the ridge because of its resemblance to the serpent. We claim priority in the discovery of this fact. The suggestion made several years ago has however been taken up and carried out farther than we had expected. Mr. W. H. Holmes ascertained that the ridge was not only like a serpent in its general shape, but that the rocks at the end of the ridge resembled the head of the serpent in their shape, a projecting ledge having the appearance of the sharp nose, cavities in the rock above having the appearance of eyes and the form and color of the rocks of the cliff below having the appearance of the white neck and bulging mouth or jaw of the serpent, while the tortuous shape of the ridge made it to resemble the folds of a massive serpent which was creeping out from the bluff and thrust its immense front into the very center of the valley, the depressions in the ridge above representing the rise and fall of the folds of the serpent. It is a conception which to any one is impressive and fills the mind with a kind of superstitious dread, but to an Indian was especially impressive. We have only to imagine the fire lighted upon the altar on the top of the ridge, shooting its gleams up to the sky, casting fitful shadows over the valley below, and filling the whole scene with its mysterious glare, to realize how terribly the minds of the superstitious people would be impressed. The fire can be seen for several miles. The erection of an effigy of an immense serpent a thousand or twelve hundred feet long on this spot was in accord with the superstitions of the people. It was not strange that they should recognize the resemblance for they seem to have been given to serpent worship, but the repetition of the practice of erecting serpent effigies in this way is remarkable. We do not know how they received this cult. The original home of serpent worship is supposed to have been in India and yet it is spread from India to Great Britain and appears wherever the Indo-European race has trodden. Its introduction into this country may have been from Europe, via Iceland, Labrador and the northeast coast. The coincidences are so striking that we are inclined to say that it was a borrowed cult, yet there are those who maintain that it was indigenous to America…”
The serpent effigy is found in many places. We here call attention to a recent discovery which we made at Fort Ancient. This fort is forty miles from Cincinnati and is situated on the Little Miami River. The river is a very swift and tortuous stream, subjected to sudden floods. It flows between low banks, but the bluffs rise on either side, making very wild and romantic scenery. The bluffs are as tortuous as the stream. The fort is situated on one of these tortuous ridges or bluffs. The walls of the fort are four and one-half miles in length, but are very crooked, so crooked that while the area within is only about eighty acres, these are about four times as long as would be necessary to surround that amount of land. The walls of the fort are in the shape of massive serpents, the heads of the serpents forming the gateways. The conception was taken from the shape of the bluffs and the land surrounding the fort. Ten years ago we visited the spot and discovered the resemblance of the walls to serpents. This was at the lower fort. Here two serpents are apparently contending with one another. The heads are near together at the gateway, one head turned sideways and the other shooting straight forward. The stricture of the neck is represented by an opening in the walls. From this point the bodies separate, twisting out and leaving a wide space between them for the fort. The bodies rise and fall corresponding to the ground and rolls along the edge of the bluff. Their heads form one gateway and their tails forming another, the whole figure having the shape of a double serpent with tails and heads together, a shape which was very familiar in the East Indies and which there represented astronomical principles, the great serpent which surrounded the earth and the cosmogonic egg being between them. This myth is found in Scandinavia. It may be that it was brought to America from these countries. The discovery which we made, however, was this: While standing on the walls of the lower fort somewhere near the terraces we could look down into the valley of the stream just below, and we discovered that the shape of the valley between the bluffs was almost exactly the shape of the fort itself and the bluffs themselves had the shape of the walls surrounding the fort. At least the two embody the same superstition in reference to the natural and artificial effigies. So far as this is concerned there is no question. The conception was evidently taken from a view of the scenery. The walls and area of the fort were the counterparts of the bluff and the valley between them, while the tortuous course of the swift stream completed the picture. The figure of the serpent was everywhere present. The resemblance was too striking to escape observation. It was not a mere coincidence, but the recognition was easy. This recognition, was undoubtedly the cause of the walls of the fort being in the shape of serpents. It was a recognition which had impressed the builders of the fort. The walls on which we stood overlooked the scene. It was a lookout station. There was a pathway from the fort to the lookout. This pathway had evidently been trodden by the people who dwelt in the fort. They had evidently stood on this spot and recognized the resemblance and had been impressed with it. It was a strange superstition and yet it was very powerful. Whether the superstition was a natural one or the remains of a lingering myth, a fragmentary tale which had come down from their fathers, or not, we do not know. The serpent divinity haunted the scene wherever this strange people went. Two serpents surrounding the hollow orb as we found it here is a common conception. This may be a mere coincidence, still it is worthy of study. The great serpent in Adams County is said by Squier and Davis to have embodied the cosmogonic egg. If this is the case then the same was embodied in the walls of the ancient fort. See Diagram XI.
The same conception about the serpent is given by the effigy which Professor Todd has discovered in Dakota. He calls it "boulder mosaics." 

 The shape of the serpent is made by two lines of boulders which run in parallel lines along the summit of a large ridge, the lines separating at the head to represent its flattened shape, and in the center of the head two other boulders which represent the eyes. He says: "The eyes had a stony stare and the effigy resembled a serpent very plainly.
Peet mentions New England – and “the northwest” as other places where history and religion become identical:
“Locality always leaves its mark on native tradition, and native myths also leave their marks on localities. We should know from the New England myths that the people who held them were residents of the seashore, for the animals which are made to figure in these myths are animals peculiar to the sea. We know that they dwelt in a region where (there) were rocks and romantic scenery, and that they were a people who were influenced by this peculiar scenery. Their traditions are many of them, localized, the rocks often being made to symbolyze their myths. It is singular, however, that the myths which fix upon scenes in nature are those which remind one of the animal divinities which were worshipped. The figure of the moose and the turtle and other animals have been recognized in certain strange and contorted figures in the rocks and mountains, and myths have been connected with them, the myth having evidently been made to account for the resemblances.
This is not peculiar to New England. We learn from Rev. M. Eells, Rev. S.Jackson,D.D., and others, that the tribes of the northwest coast have many of their myths connected with the different objects in nature, such as mountains and valleys, streams and rocks, showing that with them there was a tendency to throw an air of religion over nature. The same thing has been illustrated by Dr. Washington Matthews, in his article on Navajo Myths. Here the animals are all associated with the different localities, the animals and the scenes of nature having been regarded with a peculiar sentiment which makes history and religion identical. We present this, then, as a proof that the emblematic mounds were regarded in a religious light, the scenery and the animal shapes both proving the different elements in the prevalent nature worship.”
And here’s the whole deal if you’d like to look:

Sunday, February 15, 2015

We Shall Remain: America Through Native Eyes

Episode 1: After the Mayflower
    "In 1621, the Wampanoag of New England negotiated a treaty with Pilgrim settlers. A half-century later, as a brutal war flared between the English and a confederation of Indians, this diplomatic gamble seemed to have been a grave miscalculation..."

"We Shall Remain is a mini-series and provocative multi-media project. Five 90-minute documentaries spanning three hundred years tell the story of pivotal moments in U.S. history from the Native American perspective.
At the heart of the project is a five-part television series that shows how Native peoples valiantly resisted expulsion from their lands and fought the extinction of their culture — from the Wampanoags of New England in the 1600s who used their alliance with the English to weaken rival tribes, to the bold new leaders of the 1970s who harnessed the momentum of the civil rights movement to forge a pan-Indian identity. We Shall Remain represents an unprecedented collaboration between Native and non-Native filmmakers and involves Native advisors and scholars at all levels of the project. [Producer’s description.]
companion website offers a teacher’s guide and the full episodes online..."

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Capstone Serpent Segment

Not all those serpents out there,
Are entirely covered up in snow out there.
This one stands out at a certain pathway, 
A Serpent Gateway...

First house in the district
Perhaps as old as that 1700 treaty,
Once owned by the Indian Interpreter.
The stonework probably built by the Indigenous People
Who lived here at least from 1659 and up to 1734
and the only Indigenous stonework that I can attach a possible date of construction to...

Friday, February 13, 2015

Caribou Hunting Along Lake Huron’s Alpena-Amberley Ridge

Moonlight Deer Hunting Along the Alpena -Amberley Ridge

   "The hunters crouched silhouetted against the moon clutching their spears, frozen in a taut listening posture.  Just fifteen in number, their families in double numbers waited for the food and clothing that the caribou hunt would provide.  The hunters could not explain the fact that caribou were missing a Circadian clock” to regulate their sleep wake cycle and metabolism, but they knew that the caribou roamed by the light of the moon as well as in bright sunlight. Patiently they waited, their spears ready to fly to their targets.

      The Paleo-Indian caribou hunters took as many hunting opportunities as they could on the Alpena-Amberley Ridge. The Alpena-Amberley Ridge, labeled Six Fathom Shoal on older nautical charts, is a limestone and dolomite ridge about 100 miles long and 10 miles wide, which from 9,800 to 7,000 years ago, formed a dry land corridor dividing the modern Lake Huron Basin into two separate lakes and linking northeast lower Michigan with southwest Ontario. Some scientists and anthropologists believe that during this era of low water levels-some 250 feet lower – the Alpena-Amberley Ridge served as a natural caribou migration route featuring a subarctic environment of tamarack, spruce, and wetland from what would eventually become modern northern Michigan to the Canadian Arctic. In turn, generations of Paleo-Indian hunters used this corridor to hunt the massive herds of caribou for more than 1,000 years. When the glaciers melted at the end of the last ice age, the rising waters covered the Alpena-Amberley Ridge and the evidence of Paleo-Indian hunts.
      It took Dr. John O’Shea, the Emerson F. Greenman Professor of Anthropological Archaeology at the University of Michigan, and his team of scientists to uncover that evidence. They speculated, hypothesized, and finally explored the underwater ridge and Dr. O’Shea suggests that the caribou herds at least equaled the thousands of animals making up modern caribou herds in the Canadian Arctic. He also suggests that the Paleo-Indians who gradually moved onto the land that the retreating glaciers slowly exposed made good use of the caribou. He and his team of explorers have discovered more than 60 stone edifices now 121 feet under Lake Huron that he believes the Paleo-Indians used as hunting blinds.
      In 2009, Dr. O’Shea and his team discovered rock features on the bottom of Lake Huronthat they believe Paleo-Indians fashioned to herd migrating caribou into narrow corridors optimal for spear hunting. An Alpena News Story by Patty Ramus dated June 3, 2010, reported the three way collaboration between The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the University of Michigan, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in conducting multi-beam sonar mapping of the Alpena-Amberley Ridge about sixty miles off the shore of Lake Huron near the Canadian border. The scientists planned to use the data collected to develop a detailed map of the lake bottom and use it to explore the lake bottom to look for evidence of ancient caribou hunters who guided animals into kill areas that they had constructed of stone.

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published the initial findings of the scientists in April 2009, and the University of Michigan began negotiating with the marine sanctuary about conducting a multi-beam sonar survey to create the detailed map. According to Dr. O’Shea, several organizations, including the state and federal fisheries researchers were interested in the data to use to build new models for predicting fish populations.

Dr. O’Shea and his team spent the next four years refining their research and conducting further sonar and diving expeditions. An April 28, 2014, article, appearing in theProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reported that Dr. O’Shea who is also Curator of the University of Michigan’s Great Lakes Division of the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology, and his team of scientists discovered other evidence of Paleo-Indian caribou hunters, including drive lanes and wooden artifacts that suggest these hunters approached their prey differently in different seasons. Caribou heading north in the spring marched into a manmade ambush. Because they knew that caribou naturally follow lines, the hunters built two parallel lines of boulders about 26 feet wide and 100 feet long, ending at a natural stone wall. In the meantime, the hunters hid in another group of stone hunting blinds they built along the lanes. According to researchers, the ground was littered with debris from manufacturing or repairing stone tools, possibly spear points. In the fall, caribou heading south along the land bridge would have run straight into a cluster of stone hunting blinds.

The underwater evidence also attests to the seasonal pattern of the hunter’s lives. According to Dr. O’Shea, people probably didn’t live on the land bridge, but in the spring families would gather at the drive line, which would take15 or 16 hunters to operate efficiently. He said that 15 or 16 doesn’t sound like a large number of people , but if the Paleo-Indians lived in small family groups most of the year, it is a significant number and people would have socialized as well as hunting. He believes that these hunters lived long before modern aboriginals in the shadow of retreating glaciers and that they were a hunting and gathering people who felled caribou in small groups in the fall, dug in snug and lived off food caches and animals like beaver in the winter before they gathered for the big hunt in the spring.

Dr. O’Shea believes that there are many more under water sites in the Great Lakes like the ones he and his colleagues discovered untouched for thousands of years. ”None of it would have survived if it had been on land. This is the only place you could find this evidence. It’s hard to find, but there’s no other place you could find it,” he said."

References and Further Reading


An Early Paleo-Indian Site Near Parkhill, Ontario. Canadian Museum of Civilization, 2000.

Armbruster, Ann. Lake Huron:  True Books:  Geography:  Great Lakes. Children’s Press, 1996.

Fisher, Daniel C. “Mastodant Procurement by Paleoindians of the Great Lakes Region: Hunting of Scavenging? “from The Evolution of Human Hunting. New York:  Plenum Press, 1987.

Hill, Mark Andrew. The Benefit of the Gift:  Social Organization and Expanding Networks of Interaction in the Western Great Lakes Archaic. International Monographs in Prehistory, 2012.

Johansen, Bruce. The Native Peoples of North America;  A History. Rutgers University Press, 2006.

Spring, Barbara. The Dynamic Great Lakes. Independence Books, 2002.

Articles and Papers about the Alpena-Amberley Ridge Site

Prehistoric Stone Walls Found Under Lake Huron.

Ancient Hunting Camp Found Beneath Lake Huron  drain the lakes

Alpena News

Science Daily

The Lake Huron Center for Coastal Conservation

John O’Shea Paper

Caribou caribou herd dynamics  john oshea paper

Caribou Hunters Beneath Lake Huron. Ashley Lempke.

National Geographic

The Paleo Indian Occupation of the Holcombe Beach

James Edward FittingJerry De VisscherEdward J. Wahla

University of Michigan, 1966 – Holcombe Site (Mic

Ontario Paleo-Indians and Caribou Predation   Video. Dr. John O’Shea

 Geology of the Great Lakes

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Making Snakes from Other People's Pictures

I might steal one or two of Matt Howe's photos from his blog
And maybe stick some eyes on it in my paint program, you know, some very minimal enhancing, just to get the idea across that this might be an Ophiomorphic Petroform, possibly a Horned Serpent:
And then there's this one:
It appears from the photos to be placed on bedrock, along with some other boulders and stones, but I'm not sure if that's the stone in the distance here:
 Was it all exposed bedrock when Indigenous People were taking care of the place?
      Is there a pattern to the other stones, is there a path that spirals in?
Is the bedrock the Serpent's body - does a stone row break out from there?
             Where does that go? What's after that?
                How would it all look from above?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Horned Serpent Down in the West Texas Town of El Paso

I really do like that texas beyond history website.
I happened on a zigzag horned serpent image or two:
Artists reconstruction of sacred clowns in ceremony around a campfire. Painting from mural at the El Paso Museum of Archaeology. Photo by Susan Dial.
 Fourteenth-century kiva murals, dating from about A.D. 1350, include a number of elements similar to those of the Jornada Mogollon: note the plumed or horned serpent, masked dancer, and a possible face with horn cap to the left of the dancer’s left hand. This drawing by Kay Sutherland (see “Spirits from the South,” published in 1996 in The Artifact) was adapted from images by Bertha Dutton at the Anasazi Kuaua Pueblo, and used here courtesy of the El Paso Archaeological Society.

A mash up: