Wednesday, September 30, 2015

"Our Hidden Landscapes: Stone Cultural Features & Ceremonial Landscapes"

Sun. Oct. 4th, 2015
 3 pm @ the Washington Montessori School
240 Litchfield Turnpike (Route 202), New Preston, CT
  Back by popular demand, Dr. Lucianne Lavin,
 the Director of Research at the Institute for American Indian Studies, will be presenting:

"Our Hidden Landscapes: Stone Cultural Features & Ceremonial Landscapes"

    "A hike in the woods often reveals a variety of stone cultural features, including indigenous ceremonial sites. Join Dr. Lavin as she provides an overview of the various kinds of European-American and indigenous stone structures found on our Connecticut landscapes."
This FREE event is brought to you by NW CT Land Trust Days, a Small Area Land Trust (SALT) collaboration, of which Weantinoge is a proud member.

And I want to walk about the stone walls, look for what I think of as identifiers of possible Indigenous Stone Features, all those stone walls that I see standing out in the bing bird's eye capture above the school - as well as attend, of course.

 Like they say about those stone features on the Nolumbeka Website: 
 Once one awakens to their presence they seem to be everywhere. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Grinding Slick or Metate

     I mention finding a possible Metate or grinding slick now and again, sometimes on (or is it in?) a stone wall. It's another indicator perhaps that the stone wall I'm looking at might be Indigenous in origin. 

A list of those sort of stones associated with "grinding" food (or anything else):

  • Basin – A shallow bowl-shaped depression in a bedrock outcrop that has been made and/or used for grinding foodstuffs or other materials (see Groundstone below). A certain type of basin found in San Diego County mountains is known as a “Cuyamaca Oval” for its elongated oval shape. Compare to “Metate”, “Mortar”, and “Slick” below. 
  • Metate – A “Metate” is a large flat rock used as a base-stone for grinding various substances (see “Mano” and “Groundstone” above). Portable metates are often shaped into rounded forms, but can simply be unshaped slabs of stone. Bedrock metates are usually called “slicks” (see below) or “basins” (see above) depending on how much of a depression has been formed. 
  • Millingstone – The term Millingstone originally was used to refer to stone tools used for grinding, such as Manos and Metates, however, because these tools are often used for more than “milling” grains, the term Groundstone (or ground stone) is often preferred (see above).
  • “Millingstone” is also the name of a time period dating from between approximately 9,000 and 5,000 years before present. It is characterized by the presence of abundant manos and metates (see above). 
  • Mano – “Mano” is a Spanish term meaning “hand.” Archaeologists use the term “Mano” or “Handstone” to refer to a stone tool used to grind nuts, seeds, clay, or other materials (also see “Metate”). It is typically flattened on one or two faces from grinding use and fits easily into the hand. It is used in a circular or back and forth motion. Also see “Groundstone” above.
  • Mortar – A shallow to deep, circular hole or depression in a bedrock outcrop that is used as a container for pounding, pulverizing, and/or grinding acorns, seeds, plants, pigments, or other materials and foods with the use of a pestle (see below). Portable mortars that are shaped on the outside are often classified as stone bowls.
  • Slick / Grinding Slick – A flat, horizontal area of a rock or outcrop that has been worn smooth by grinding or processing materials with a handstone or mano. Slicks have very little or no depth. Also see “metate” and “groundstone” above. 

WENDELL, MA - November 21, 1012 - Neill Bovaird of Wolf Tree Programs collects and cooks acorns from Black Oak trees to boil and make into flour. The flour is very dense and is usually blended with other flours for baking. Photo by Beth Reynolds

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Rev (Boston to Hudsons River, New Milford to Medfield, Mass.)

(or "Stone by Stone, Segments Two and Three')
   The Rev. Ezra Stiles (Dec. 10, 1727 – May 12, 1795) was once the president of the famous Yale Community College in New Haven CT. He was famous for a whole gang of stuff, as anyone can see from his credentials listed on Wikipedia and elsewhere. But it turns out that Ol’ Ezra just might have also been a “Pioneer of Rock Art Research,” according to Ed Lenik, who in turn is also a Rock Art researcher. I have read as many things written by Lenik that I can acquire for free on the World Wide Internet (or WWI as both it and World War One are commonly abbreviated) and particularly like his “Serpent and Turtle” stuff. Lenik says that these images of snakes and turtles are the two things that show up the most-est in “Pictures on Rocks.”

    I have read in numerous places where numerous people write about numerous Mysterious Stones in New England, and heard in numerous places where numerous people talk about numerous Mysterious Stones in New England, many numerous mentions of numerous Mysterious Stones in New England numerously mentioned in “The Literary Diary of Ezra Stiles.” Mostly these numerous mysterious places with numerous Mysterious Stones in New England are connected to theories of ancient cultures of mostly white people who came to not just vacation at but live in America thousands of years ago (well before Chris Columbus invented going to the Bahamas) and forgot to bring along or leave any artifacts of their material day to day culture lying around except for those big old Mysterious Stones – except for those littler Mysterious Stones that people have been finding (usually when no one is looking) that have messages on them written in ancient scripts of the ancient Hebrews, ancient Phoenicians, ancient Celts or any one of a whole gang of ancient anyone-elses, sometimes even teaming up and trading off the work (and tons of missing copper, I am told, conspicuous by its absence) of inscribing these inscriptions by combining a whole bunch of ancient Alphabits.
    Sorry: “Alphabets.” Like the soup, not the breakfast cereal.
     While “The Rev” certainly writes about all that writing or scripting – and the “anybody elses” as the parties responsible (and they were indeed very responsible, cleaning up after themselves after their parties, leaving no messy middens or “trash piles” lying about the landscape or buried under it) he also wrote about his travels to look at certain stones that he tended to think of as Indian God Stones.
     Like this one for example:
   “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 2 1/2 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.”
  Why would Phineas lie to a minister who would lie to another minister? I'm sure many a man in the 1700's moved many a ton and a half boulder out of a swamp, uphill 45 feet or so toward his stone fence back in the day when most fences were made of wooden rails, or "pales" that aren't the kind you put water in.
Here it isn't:
(A photo of Page 173 in “Manitou” by Mavor and Dix)

   And now that I think of it, I do know someone who is pretty sure there were no ancient “somebody elses” (besides some Vikings) hanging around (and raising the intelligence level of Indians as many of the the people who conduct strange ceremonies at the Great Serpent Mound and other places, wearing hooded white robes, claim)) and suspects that there may be Indigenous Stone Features on the New England Landscape, who wrote a big book about CT’s Indigenous Peoples – actually published by the very same Yale Community College that Stiles presidented at. My friend Dr. Luci was actually brave enough to include stuff about those stone features that numerous people believe are just remnants of the life styles of some agriculturally minded people who arrived here (the USA) around Thanksgiving before it was a National Holiday (or the USA). She uses that above Stiles quote that I quoted and includes a little more (I may be breaking a copyright law by stealing this (and even more as you'll see,) from Google Books where you can find a preview of Dr. Luci’s Big Book that you really should go right out and buy as soon as possible):

    Okay: I know the newspaper clipping one is possibly or probably a turtle, but the caption says Stiles “had seen or visited twenty images of Native American “stone gods,” like this one from Madison CT.” Notice that I didn’t even mention that my photo of a stone “turtle mortar” appeared in Dr. Luci’s book on page 211.
    And I suppose this is as good a place in this story to start plugging my photographic images of anthropomorphic stones that I find in numerous places, often in stone walls but not always since some of them are boulders too big to move a rod or two uphill that may or may not be what Stiles was calling “God Stones,” placed in fences built at the time when most fences were easily made of split wooden rails.
     I really was reminded of all this Ezra Stiles Stuff when I just recently visited my mom and dad and walked out to look at their stone walls for about the ten millionth time (which sounds only a little bit better than saying “a whole bunch of times.” The point is that I always see something I missed before in the ”hundreds of times” I’ve looked at those stone walls, which isn’t true either since I really don’t know exactly how many times I have looked).

    As the sun was going down this past Wednesday, I walked along the stone wall behind the barn, looking at the segments that aren’t entangled in poison ivy and virginia creeper or bittersweet and bull briar, taking photos of some now and again, wishing that Ol’ Ezra had remembered to bring a camera of some sort with him when he was out hunting down God Stones and Indian Forts. Apparently he forgot to bring his cell phone as well since I’ve seen some pretty good cell phone pictures of some really interesting stones.
Or, as according to Ezra:

    If Ezra’s photos existed, I’d look for patterns in the stacking of the stones that make up those stone walls, those stone walls that are often just dismissed by many other people as random "tossing" rather than the more careful “brick and block sort of method” of European-style of stone building (that apparently sometimes also included adding an occasional Indian God stone - just for the heck of it). 

Here’s the prime example from that day:
Above: Facing north - toward Interstate 95 actually,
although I'm not sure how many rods;
below: some comparisons:

Above & below: 
"Looks like a Turtle,"
"Possible Testudinate Zoomorphic Stones"
Another interesting segment:

    So Stiles was shown (or found on his own) some 20 or so God Stones by some people who were always claiming to have placed them in stone fences (or knew somebody who said they did) – except for the few he found by himself near swamps or newly cleared ground or something called a Declivity. I haven’t read the entire Stiles Diary so as far as any notice he may have taken of all the other things like turtles and stuff, I really don’t know if he jotted that all down in his own personal shorthand. I figure if Dr. Luci had come across Stile’s mentioning turtles and stuff when she was reading in the reading room of Yale Community College, she might have said to me that she had come across it since I’m always mentioning them to her.
    I notice these sorts of things, in situ as they say, in all sorts of stone walls all around Connecticut, but then I am assuming that a stone fence full of stones placed so as to suggest faces of Indian Gods or Spirits, Humans or Animals – or turtles sometimes composed of several stones placed so that there is a suggestion of shells and heads and fore legs sometimes even with three or four toes – that were important enough to Indigenous Peoples to put them into their myths and legends in story and song as well as to put these designs into their arts and crafts in a wide variety of media and forms - that many of these fences may be constructions of Indigenous creation, made for purposes other than what you read in just about every stone wall book ever written...

...such as this one mentioned here: Stone by Stone (Segment One)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

On the Edge of a Wonderland

Another place I've passed by so many times,
I finally stopped just a minute,
To take a picture  or two as the sun was setting
On my way home from my Mom and Dad's house,
Headed north up Horse Hill Road in Westbrook CT...

Sun setting, I go no farther
Than this decorated boulder on the bedrock out crop,
But I catch a glimpse of another row of stones,
Heading off into the distance...

"History" began here
At the close of the Puritan/Pequot War
And any talk about who made these stone walls
Usually only involves Colonial farmers,
Property lines, sheep and cows,
and there are so many that it hardly matters
If some go away without a second thought.

But I see something else in these stones,
 A landscape where everything in every way is
Something Else, Something Sacred,
Far older, from further back in the Human History, 
Signs of an Indigenous Cultural Landscape
That has somehow escaped destruction,
Not to mention detection,
On the edge of the modern,
Maybe about to disappear,
Just like so many others all around have...

A short distance up the road,
Not all that far,
A real estate sign,
Another Wonderland for Sale,
Open for development...

I'll give the placement
Since it is threatened
In some captures of aerial views of various sorts
To show how much remains,
Unexplored as far as I know,
On the odd chance that someone might see this
As something to be saved and protected,
Something that once it's gone is gone forever,
Photos of dubious quality
On the Edge of a Wonderland.
(Above: Looking East where the sun rises.Below: a wider view)

(Above: Looking South where the sun travels during the day, seeing all we do. Below: a wider view)
(Above: Looking West where the sun sets.Below: a wider view)
(Below: views with North at the top; 1934, 1965 and fairly recently.)

On the ground:

You can find my email address below this post...
Nearest Federally Recognized Tribe:
Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut
James Quinn, THPO
13 Crow Hill Road
Uncasville, CT   06382
Tel:  860.862.6893
Fax:  860.862.6395