Thursday, November 30, 2017

Qussuk/Quassuk or Stone

|Qussuk|, { A Rock}. |pl. Qussukquanash|.   
             |Hussun|, { A Stone}. |pl. Hussunash|.
     "Hussunash" is that bit of language I've been looking for, as in "Sacred Stones" or Manitou Hussunash. Qussuk is so much easier for me to remember and say, visible reminders here and there of this Algonquin word - just don't ask me how to spell or say the plural just yet. But I did hear a plea to be respectful and quit calling these stones by names applied to stone features of other cultures, all those cairns and dolmens that belong on that Sacred Landscape.

wâunon, ‘honor’ + qussuk, ‘stone’ = Wâunonaqussuk: ‘honoring stone’

(Natick Nipmuc wâunonukhauónat – ‘to flatter,’ Trumbull 1903:202, verb stem wâunon- ‘honor’ + qussuk ‘stone’ = wâunonaqussuk – ‘honoring stone’ + quanash pl., also Narragansett wunnaumwâuonck – ‘faithfulness, truthfulness,’ wunna, ‘good,’ wáunen, ‘honor,’ + onk, abstract suffix, O’Brien 2005:37, Wawanaquas- sik, ‘place of many honoring stones,’- Nochpeem Mahikkaneuw/Wappinger, Ruttenber 1992b:373). From

   “To the high, woodlands called Wawanaquasik...
 “To a place called by the Indians Wawanaqussek, where the heapes of stone lye...upon which the Indians throw another as they pass by, from an ancient custom, among them.” 
 The heap of stones here was “on the south side of the path leading to Wayachtanok,” and other paths diverged, showing that the place was a place of meeting... 
    “To the high woodland,” in the description of 1649, is marked on the map of survey of 1715, “Foot of the hill,” apparently, a particular point, the place of which was identified by the head of the creek, the marsh and the heap of stones. The name may have described this point or promontory, or it may have referred to the place of meeting near the head of the creek, or to the end of the marsh, but it is claimed that it was the name of the heap of stones, and that it is from Mide,  or Miyée, “Together"—Mawena, “Meeting,” “Assembly"—frequently met in local names and accepted as meaning, “Where paths or streams or boundaries come together;” and Qussuk, “stone”—“Where the stones are assembled or brought together,” “A stone heap."
   This reading is of doubtful correctness. Dr. Trumbull wrote that Qussuk," meaning “stone,” is “rarely, perhaps never” met as a substantival in local names, and an instance is yet to be cited where it is so used.” It is a legitimate word in some connections, however, Eliot writing it as a noun in Möhshe-qussuk, “A flinty rock,” in the singular number. If used here it did not describe “a heap of stones,” but a certain rock. On the map of survey of the patent, in 1798, the second station is marked “Manor Rock,” and the third, “Wawanaquassick,” is located I23 chains and 34 links (a fraction over one and one-half miles) north of Manor Rock, as the corner of an angle. In the survey of 1715, the first station is “the foot of the hill”—“the high woodland”—which seems to have been the Mawan-uhquðOsik" of the text. To avoid all question the heap of stones seems to have been included in the boundary. It now lies in an angle in the line between the townships of Claverack and Taghkanic, Columbia County, and is by far the most interesting feature of the locative—a veritable footprint of a perished race. 
   Similar heaps were met by early European travelers in other parts of the country. Rev. Gideon Hawley, writing in 1758, described one which he met in Schohare Valley, and adds that the largest one that he ever saw was “on the mountain between Stockbridge and Great Barrington.” Mass. (Doc. Hist. N. Y., iii, Io99.) The significance of the “ancient custom” of casting a stone to these heaps has not been handed down. Rev. Mr. Sergeant wrote, in 1734, that though the Indians “each threw a stone”as they passed, they had entirely lost the knowledge of the reason for doing so,” and an inquiry by Rev. Hawley, in 1758, was not attended by a better result.* The heaps were usually met at resting places on the path and the custom of throwing the stone a sign-language indicating that one of the tribe had passed and which way he was going, but further than the explanation that the casting of the stone was “an ancient custom,” nothing may be claimed with any authority. A very ancient custom, indeed, when its signification had been forgotten...” from "Proceedings of the New York State Historical Association," Volumes 5-6

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Stone Wall Talk Hosted by Matt Bua

Nov. 19, 2017

There's a back story to this photo - and I HHH'd when I saw it (HHH is like LOL but you go "Heh-heh-heh" instead of just laughing like a regular ordinary normal person). Matt Bua's original photo triggered a little spark in my brain and taught me a little lesson that I'm forever grateful to him for.
I suddenly saw that these stones very much resembled a coiled rattlesnake if the large round stone were interpreted as an eye, the smaller stones snake scales:
The stones "came alive," especially when an actual rattlesnake eye is overlay-ed onto Matt's origin photo. Suddenly a Great Serpent is looking right at you: 
I told the story here almost a year ago:
Adapted from:
and duplicated here:

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Back to Little Mulberry Park (GA)

Meanwhile, on Turtle Island, an obvious answer to the "Is it field clearing, stone stockpiling or an Indigenous/Native American Cultural Icon?" quietly asserts itself:
The original photo is from an old post:
Originally lifted from here:
Like this one:

Coiled Rattlesnakes?
Formerly a Coiled Rattlesnake??

An Old Story:
Not quite as old story:
"Deshong Crossing (a housing development) would not be the first to vanish under a bulldozer. Garrow estimates that 80 percent of all metro Atlanta sites have been lost to development. Many developers neglect to mention the discovery of artifacts in order to avoid a land survey, Chase says.
"People are unaware that there are so many sites being destroyed," he says. "And there is not much willingness for developers to cooperate, to the point of contractors becoming secretive about it when they find things."
But secrecy alone is no crime. Developers who come across artifacts they suspect may be of historical value are only required to halt clearing and construction when working under federal permit or funding, or unless they encounter human remains. According to the Georgia Abandoned Cemeteries and Burial Grounds Act of 1991, no known cemetery, burial ground, human remains or burial object must be disturbed. Under that law, development must stop until a genealogical survey has been conducted and a permit applied for in order to move the remains — at the property owner's cost.
Summertown residents hoping to invoke the law focused a last-ditch effort on what they believe are Native American burial mounds on the Deshong Crossing property.
But Garrow's survey concluded that the rock piles in question likely were placed there by farmers. While Rutherford acknowledges there are more recent rock piles on the property, she questions whether the survey even reviewed the spots neighbors believe to be burial mounds.
"There is a stone mound 10 meters long by 5 meters wide and 1-1/2 meters high back there, and it is situated up on a slope. I don't believe a farmer would go to that extent to move a pile of stones, and set them in such a perfect oval shape. We have asked the developer permission to hire and send in an independent archaeologist to do a survey, but were told no," she says..."

Sunday, November 05, 2017

The Names We Use

The Cultural Message Nomenclature Implies

    The approval of a posting of some photos, and a message as well, set me off thinking about the names we use to describe features of a Ceremonial Stone Landscape. While this nomenclature has always been a concern with me, these days I’m paying more and more attention as more and more Indigenous People begin to talk about these Sacred Stones, these Manitou Qussukquanash, that are all too often misidentified but are also sometimes so prominent on today’s landscape. There’s an intriguing boulder in North Salem NY and it is that one I’m talking about.
    The boulder has many names – and the People who lived here the longest most likely had a name for it – and even that probably changed over time – but I don’t know if it is remembered. I visited this boulder back at the end of the 1990’s, the exact date I don’t know but it had to have been after the spring 1996 because I know that was the point where I first recognized a cobble stone as a zoomorphic effigy, a bear’s head about life sized balanced on a large flat boulder while pondering the zigzag stone rows that bordered the riparian zone of a small stream. I traveled to a house in North Salem to work on some antique furniture, probably two days in a row, and somewhere I have a few photos of the boulder and maybe even one or two of some zigzag stone rows at the stream behind the house, taken from the streamside boulder I ate my lunch on the first day – zigzag rows that also bordered the stream’s riparian zone and also connected to others, possibly also zigzag but maybe not – the memory of that is a little hazy, twenty years later, but I do remember that they seemed more carefully constructed but here and there you could see more recent debris of stone and brick, trash and brush unceremoniously dumped on top of them, sometimes spilling over. I was just a few years into challenging the Euro-centric notion that these rows of stones were early Colonial constructions, properly termed “stone fences,” commonly called “stone walls.”
    It was probably as I headed home the first day that I stopped by what the old sign assured me was a “Glacial Erratic,” an estimated 6 to 18 ton boulder composed of a type of rock not found in the area, most likely moved by glacial action from an original source to the north. I came across a blog post from the Hudson Valley Geologist who posts about the “Random thoughts and opinions of a community college geology professor living in the mid-Hudson Valley of New York State.” That’s his photo above that I’ve stolen, to the best of my knowledge.

    Geologically speaking, I’ll have to wonder why he chose the word “rock” and I’m a little surprised he didn’t choose to call it a Balanced Boulder, a stone of a certain size known as a boulder, composed of a kind of rock, called granite but I suppose that rock is one of those interchangeable and acceptable misnomers for stone – and besides, that’s what it says on the newer sign.
    In the emerging language of Indigenous Ceremonial Stone Landscapes in what is now known as northeastern North America, more than a few researchers would agrue on the term balanced. That first bear effigy is a balanced stone, unsupported by other stones and free to rock from side to side if pushed into motion. The North Salem Boulder has some supports below it and you could start an independent research argument about whether it’s Perched or Pedestaled.  – and, so far, I haven’t heard a Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO) suggest a preferred term in English or an Algonquin dialect. Regarding the last sentence on the sign I will tell you that a THPO might suggest to you: “Let’s get one thing straight: you’re not in Scotland (or Ireland) anymore” and may use a term such as Manitou Hussunash or Manitou Qussukquanash depending on which river system this stone would be found on, who would be the most likely descendants of the Indigenous Peoples’ known to have occupied the area since those glaciers retreated. The THPO might tell you, just as the Hudson Valley Geologist says, “it's (not) a man-made dolmen despite its striking appearance, That doesn't mean Native Americans didn't consider it a sacred site, they may have, but I'm not aware of any archaeological evidence for ancient activity here (especially by seafaring Celts!)... If you search the web, a lot of the information you'll see about Balanced Rock is from New Agers who credulously claim it's a dolmen.  Dolmens are megalithic tombs found in various places in Western Europe (most notably Ireland).  They typically consist of flat rocks supported by three or more uprights.  While superficially looking like a dolmen (not much, in my opinion, since the proportions aren't right), it's far likelier to be a glacial erratic.”
    The inclusion of that last sentence is a cultural message, just as Eurocentric as believing Indigenous People in the area couldn’t or wouldn’t make stone constructions, create a Ceremonial Stone Landscape. There’s some implied racism in that sentence and it makes little difference if someone has made a few million writing books about a Mother Culture that originated in a sort of Atlantis in Antarctica. It’s still an imaginary Master Race and a bit of racist pseudo archaeology that has no evidence behind it, an insult to Indigenous People everywhere.
     How far back that Celtic Theory goes, I don’t know. Maybe back to the 1950’s and Barry Fell. 
(Editing this in 6/2019, I'll add this image of page 91 in Mantiou by Mavor and Dix, pushing the date back to the 1930's and William Goodwin's suggestion that Culdee monks from Ireland fled Vikings and were bringing Christianity to Wabenaki People in New Hampshire:)

That’s how an actual Celtic (Musical) Group came to know about it and visit the site, using it for an album cover:

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park

Manchester, Tennessee

     Thinking about future destinations in my MRV (Mobile Research Vehicle – similar to a Recreational Vehicle which is often abbreviated as an RV except that I am aboard, ready to write off my travel expenses as "Above the Ground Archaeological Research"), I found an interesting place that will look good on paper, hopefully, to the IRS.
      I liked the first write up I came across, since the author said, “The earliest theories were some of the most entertaining. The Pioneer, a newspaper in Jackson, TN, speculated in 1823 that the fort was “built by Buccaneers from Seville after one of their ships wrecked off the coast of Florida and forced them inland.” Later, after Viking artifacts were discovered in North American, many speculated that Vikings had built all of the stone and mound structures in the eastern US, including Old Stone Fort.  In 1950, Zella Armstrong hypothesized that the fort was built by “Welsh-Indian” descendants of prince Madoc, a Welsh prince who sailed to America in 1170.” I was glad that the author included the following since I couldn’t easily gratify myself with a quick look at the website mentioned: “After exploring the western side of the trail, I headed up to look at the mounded walls encircling the site. The wall is strange and mysterious. What was it for? Here’s what the official park webpage says:
The Old Stone Fort is a 2000 year-old American Indian ceremonial site. It consists of mounds and walls that combine with cliffs and rivers to form an enclosure measuring 1-1/4 miles around. The 50-acre hilltop enclosure mound site is believed to have served as a central ceremonial gathering place for some 500 years. It has been identified as, perhaps, the most spectacularly sited sacred area of its period in the United States and the largest and most complex hilltop enclosure in the south. Settlers tended to name such enclosures “forts.”
The spectacular setting occurs where two rivers drop off the plateau of the Highland Rim in Middle Tennessee and plunge to the level of the Central Basin of Tennessee. As the forks of the Duck River cut down from the plateau level they isolate a promontory between them before they join. This promontory was further set apart by the construction of long, wall-like mounds during the Woodland prehistoric period.
At the narrow neck of land between the two rivers there is a set of parallel mound walls oriented to within one degree of the summer solstice sunrise. It was typical of ancient societies to recognize this significant farthest north sunrise and to hold reenactments of creation myths at such times. Mound sites such as the 50-acre Old Stone Fort provided modified landscapes for ceremonies that may have represented in some way the culture’s concept of their place in the cosmos and a separation of the sacred and mundane or pure and impure.”
   Not bad for an official write up, leaving out those 19th century theories that seem to ignore Indigenous People and include those on their signage, as if Sir Wolter Scott or Graham Cracker Hancock were writing them up to boost TV ratings or sell some sort of merchandise. If by some sort of miraculous employment opportunity I were writing these things up, I’d change that “prehistoric” to “Precontact” and work “Ceremonial Stone Landscape” into the thing, stress that every place is a Sacred Place, that everything is connected to the Sacred...
    The second thing I found had me scratching my stubbly beard about the author’s choice of words and phrases such as “clumsy stone axes,” “primitive culture,” “stubbly beards” and “finely carved stone pipe,” as well as just what Ceremonial Site means:
     “We are camped at Old Stone Fort State Archeological Park. This park features a peninsula of about 50 acres located high on limestone cliffs and encircled by two rivers which form a natural moat. About 2000 years ago the Woodland Indians (so-called because their real name has been lost to the dust of history) built a stone wall fortification around the top of the peninsula. It’s a rare and unusual undertaking for people who had only clumsy stone axes to construct such a permanent and monumental structure. Eons (an indefinite and very long period of time, often a period exaggerated for humorous or rhetorical effect, or a unit of time equal to a billion years or a major division of geological time, subdivided into eras) later, after the Indians were long gone, white settlers saw the stone walls and assumed it was a fort – hence the name, Old Stone Fort.
   In fact archeologists  haven’t a clue about the purpose of the wall, or why a primitive culture would expend such enormous effort to build it. There’s no evidence of a village here, no burial grounds or troves of artifacts have been unearthed, and of course no Indians left to explain the legend of the place. So, as often happens in the field of archeology, when the purpose of something is unclear they wring their hands and scratch their stubbly beards and label the thing a Ceremonial. And that is the explanation offered today at the park’s tiny museum – it was a ceremonial place.
What sort of ceremonies might have taken place here, or why they needed to be protected by such an ambitiously planned fortification is left to the visitor’s imagination. The only clue ever discovered was a found by a farmer in 1876, who decided to have a poke around the rubble of the old walls and somehow unearthed a finely carved stone pipe. The Raptor Pipe became the iconic symbol of the area, and then was promptly whisked away to the Smithsonian. So it’s not even on display here...”

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

The Curtain Opens

Wind and Rain,
A heavy frost this morning:
The leaves falling are like a curtain opening
       - and the landscape begins to speak,
       if you know how to listen...

     “Manitou Qussukquanash” it’s says in the Old Language,
                         Sacred Spirit Stones...

Healing Diamond marks the beginning of

...crosses over the stream...
...rises to the other side, changing form, no longer sharply serpentine.
Great Serpent resting its head made of scales,
perhaps a single boulder,
looking toward where the sun rises...

Perhaps one eye looking at someone who wonders,
standing beside it after the curtain has fallen...
...will it come to life,
in moonlight?
Will it wriggle in flickering firelight?
Shall I ask the Uktena?
Should I ask a child?

(Back home again, "Tûnuppusuonk," this one whispers)