CCNet ESSAY, 4 September 2000
EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED: SEARCHING FOR HISTORICAL IMPACTS IN NORTH
AMERICA AND A SURVEY OF SOUTHERN AND EASTERN NATIVE AMERICAN SITES
* PART 1
By E.P. Grondine <email@example.com>
I used the opportunity provided by my trip to the Mars planning
conference in Houston to conduct a survey of a number of Native
American archaeological sites. As the survey results are of more
lasting importance than the outcome of the Mars planning session, I'm
sending them off first, and my report on the Mars planning session will
be along shortly.
Earlier posts by CCNet participants had brought up the possibility of
an impact event producing the "Great Raft", a log jam which blocked
the Atchafalaya and Red Rivers; I believe I may now be able to throw
some light on the time when this possible impact event may have
occurred, and its far reaching consequences. I have also begun
collecting materials relating to a massive impact event which occurred
in the Bald Mountains on the Tennessee-North Carolina border around AD
1200, and parts of this material will be presented here. Finally,
there have been multiple speculations on the construction of the
Serpent Mound in Southern Ohio; I will review some of the most recent
information, and explain its symbolism in detail.
The area I covered in my survey was for the most part what I think of
as the "Barbeque Zone", that area where Native Americans, and thus
their colonial conquerors, used pepper flavored tomato sauces in their
cooking. I will present the material in my usual chatty style, and
anyone who does not like it may simply hit the DELETE key and skip the
For ease of shipping the survey has been broken down into four parts.
The first part contains background, techniques used, travel pointers,
and a site list for anyone who may wish to undertake their own survey
in the future. Not exactly a Cadogan's Guide, but just some major
points. Also included are some observations on Georgia and Texas. While
of great use to anthropologists, and perhaps enjoyable to armchair
travelers, most Conference participants may want to skip it.
Those who wish can head to the second part of the survey, "FROM THE
BEGINNING TO TROYVILLE" [to be posted tomorrow], which covers events
through to the possible Great Raft impact, and includes comments on the
relatively small Brenham Impact. The survey's third part, "FROM 536 AD
TO THE SOUTHERN CEREMONIAL CULT" covers the Iroquois attack on the
Hopewell, the St. Lawrence Impact Event, the rise of Fort Ancient
Culture, and the Great Serpent Mound in Ohio; it also covers the spread
of Southern Ceremonial Culture, and gives a detailed description of
their societies which will be of particular interest to the
archaeo-astronomers here. The fourth part of the survey, "FROM THE BALD
MOUNTAINS IMPACT TO THE END", covers the Bald Mountains impact event
and the end of the Southern Ceremonial peoples.
So as to avoid confusion, throughout this piece whenever I use
the term "Native Americans" I will be referring to the native peoples
of North American, and not those of Central America or South America,
though they were certainly "Native Americans" as well.
A list of sites visited for the survey is attached to the first part of
this report, as well as a list of important sites not visited. I've
read an estimate that there were something like 10,000 major Native
American sites in the United States; this list just covers some of the
more interesting and accessible ones in the Barbeque Zone and related
trade areas and does not cover the northeast, southwest, or Pacific
coast. Aside from covering a limited geographic and cultural area, it
specifically excludes most paleo and archaic period sites and caves, as
they were outside the scope of time this survey was intended to cover.
As there is no comprehensive guide to Native American sites in the
United States, conference participants who wish to make their own
survey in the future may wish to hold on to it.
A quick look at the site list will show that the survey missed far more
sites than it covered. Knowing what I know now I would have conducted
the survey much differently. Particular deficits are missing some sites
on or near the Mississippi and the lack of visits to coastal sites,
which defects I would be more than happy to correct should someone wish
to fund it.
PART ONE: BACKGROUND, TECHNIQUES USED, TRAVEL POINTERS
NORTH AMERICAN ARCHAEOLOGY GRINDS TO A STANDSTILL
Why undertake this survey at this time? As most Conference participants
know, my primary area of interest is the Bronze Age Aegean, and I had
no particular interest in or expertise in Native American cultures.
But my earlier comments to the Conference that someone was already
undertaking such a survey were met with scepticism on your part ("you
hope"), and no wonder. Unlike most surveys, in which the author gives
thanks for help rendered, and accepts blame for any blunders, I'd like
to place the blame for all the blunders elsewhere.
From the list of impediments I certainly wish to except Lee Vick,
docent at Cahokia Mounds, the best docent I've ever come across; Dave
Griffing, archaeologist at Poverty Point; Kathleen Bergeron, staff
member at Marksville, and as a member of the Houma Tribe an eloquent
spokesperson for a Native American view on anthropology; M. from
Tennessee, whose anonymity will be protected; and Jim Reece, April
Mitchell, and Suzette Raney of the wonderful staff at the Chatanooga
Library. I will not mention many of the fine staff members at the
different sites visited, as I do not have the time or space to list all
of the indifferent and incompetent ones.
Native American archaeology in the United States is in pretty hopeless
shape, one far far worse than that of archaeology in Europe. With the
US economy in a state of stagnation, little federal funding is
available for site acquisition, or site development - in fact so little
federal money is available that there are not even adequate funds to
maintain sites already developed.
The same is true on a state level, with some exceptions, in particular
Illinois, Florida, and Arkansas. Since most archaeology that does
manage to get done is funded on a state level, you get particularly
restricted regional views that consider little beyond state boundaries,
and often times there are no accepted terms for describing the
cultures. Furthermore, what terms are accepted are often named after
type sites which bear no relation to the center of a culture, i.e.
The first "scientific" publication of Native American remains by Ephram
Squier and Davis in 1848 focused on their own surveys in Ohio, and on
the Mississippi, and guided developments in the field. As a result
general knowledge of settlement patterns and exactly how wide spread
cultures were is poor. An example of this is that due to accidents of
funding and the non-publication of 18th century scholar C.S.
Rafinesque's work, Kentucky is almost a blank slate for most of Native
American settlement studies. Alabama nearly matches it.
While there is a lack of funds on the public level, such is not true on
the private level. A sizable portion of the population feels that the
best way of showing their admiration for the ancient inhabitants of
North America is by buying artifacts plundered from ancient sites, and
a large number of people have absolutely no qualm with either looting
sites on public lands or with opening graves on private property and
then stealing what they can.
While you might think that the Native Americans might put some kind of
stop to this trade, a large portion of the Native American population,
in particular the "activists", are more of a hindrance than help.
Native Americans generally hold as a religious belief that human
remains should not be disturbed, and they are intentionally slandering
the archaeologists by publicly calling them "pot hunters" and trying to
tie them to this illegal trade. The result is North American
archaeology is slowly coming to a standstill.
Dating is rotten, and precise dating is usually non-existent. In
contrast to Europe or the Middle East, Native American sites were
generally not continuously and successively occupied, as most were
meeting centers for larger outlying populations. Also, as the Native
Americans of this region generally did not use timber house
construction, there are no burn layers to mark destruction. So where
there was successive occupation, there is often no differentiation when
different population groups are involved, and no dating, as most
excavations were undertaken before carbon 14 was available. There is
little hope of improvement, since some Native American activists are
demanding not only the return of human remains, which pretty much
precludes the study of population groups, but also the return of grave
goods, which precludes carbon 14 dating refinements.
Mike Baillie will be interested to note that tree ring studies first
had their start in the early 1800's, when colonists counted the rings
of trees found on the tops of mounds to try to date the time of their
abandonment. It was quickly pointed out that frosts would lead to what
was perceived as the lack of a ring (microscopes being generally
unavailable), and the technique was abandoned until revived in the
1920's. But after a good re-start in the southwest, no series were
developed for the eastern part of the country, and with tree ring
series woefully underdeveloped, this exact dating technique is seldom
AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGISTS' KNOWLEDGE OF IMPACTS AND CYCLES
With basic terminology and dating lacking, it is not surprising that
there is absolutely no awareness among the anthropological community of
cyclical climatic fluctuation and catastrophic climatic events such as
impact or eruption. The only environmental effect admitted is long
term climatic change, as the Ice Age land bridge is essential to the
Native American settlement of the Americas. When asked why a
particular culture died, it is very common to receive the answer that
the resources ran out and the society disbanded, as though these
ancient Native Americans were present day whites fleeing to the suburbs
from decaying black inner cities.
SHORT SUMMARY OF OUR OWN CURRENT WORK ON PALEO-CLIMATE
At this point I would like to review in extremely brief form the
results of some of the current work Conference participants have been
doing on paleo-climates. First off I start with the work of Ken Hsu,
who has been putting forth evidence of a 1200 year climate cycle, in
which 600 years of "good" weather is followed by 600 years of "bad".
Hsu has pointed out that the period from 2400-2200 BCE is marked by
drought in the Middle East, Indo-European population movements into
China, and cold in Europe. Hsu gathers evidence that the next maximum
ends ca. 1250 BCE with the arrival of Urnfield peoples in Europe and
with foreign invaders in China. The following climatic optimum ends
around the year 0 with the arrival of the Helvetians in Europe and the
Wang Mong hunger year in China. Hsu sees the medieval optimum lasting
from 900 AD to 1300 AD, when the Vikings, the Hanseatic League, and the
Silk Road towns all thrive. What follows is a period of cold in Europe,
and drought in China, and invasion by northern peoples, which ends
about 1800 AD.
One place where other conference participants certainly differ with Hsu
is over the period 400-600 AD, which Hsu sees as the climatic minimum.
It is clear that ca. 536 AD the climate failed disasterously as a
result of atmospheric dust loading, whether one agrees with Keyes that
volcanos were the source of this dust, or Baillie that comets were, or
Another place where other conference participants differ is in regard
to the disastrous climatic failure ca. 2100-2000 BCE. Masse has
documented clearly a massive impact event in Rio Cuarto from roughly
this period, and it is likely that the dust load caused a massive
Finally, it should be noted that Timo Niroma has been trying to tie
long term climatic fluctuations to the period of Jupiter's orbit, which
effect must arise either through the effect of Jupiter's gravity of the
nuclear reaction of our Sun, or on its effect on the flow of the Solar
Stream off of our Sun.
As will be seen, a number of these events show up in the record of the
Native Americans, such as has been recovered to date.
DIFFUSION VERSUS MIGRATION
As for the study of the interaction of human groups, Colin Renfew's
"Cultural Difusionism" is widely taking hold, and differentiation
between the different types of contact between population groups is
nil. A few items from an excavation are often taken to show peaceful
trade, whereas they may be simply items of booty; re-use of a site and
its goods is taken as a sign of assimilation, in cases where conquest
may be involved.
As general background, the following are the possible alternatives when
two population groups come into contact:
1) One population group may kill the other completely
2) One population group may kill most men, women and children of the
other, absorbing either some skilled craftsmen, cultural leaders,
translators, or some surviving children
3) One population group may kill the men and children of the other,
absorbing its fertile women
4) One population group may kill the males of the other, absorbing
its fertile women and their children
5) One population group may dominate the other, reducing it to and
keeping it in a clearly defined supportive role
6) The two population groups may occupy the same area, with each in a
distinct and separate ecological niche
7) The two population groups may
remain in separate adjoining areas and engage in trade
8) The two population groups may remain in separate adjoining areas
and maintain strict separation
9) One population group or both may harbor diseases to which the other
population group has no immunity, and contact brings decimation or
extinction to one group or the other or both
With Native American activists getting control of human remains, DNA
tests to determine population movements has become impossible, and
that's if money were available to perform them, which it isn't. Also,
it is not in some activists interests to conduct DNA tests, as oft
times these DNA tests would show historical tribes to be relative late
comers, and thus cast a shadow on tribal claims to lands. This does
not only concern claims of Native Americans against European
colonizers, as for example currently the Hopi and Navaho are engaged in
a dispute over tribal lands which only DNA tests could satisfy.
Since the discovery of human remains leads to mountains of paperwork,
the archaeological community as a whole simply does not want to find
them. Thus they do not want to excavate any structures which could
clear up questions of chronology and population movements. Instead
there is an emphasis, which is becoming general in American
archaeology, on the "ecological" excavation of house sites, which it is
hoped will not lead to the discovery of human remains. One major
problem here is that Native Americans often buried children in or near
their houses, and even this type of excavation will probably be stopped
soon as well.
While I can sympathize with some Native Americans views on this, I can
not agree with them. I'm not talking about digging up Mom and Dad
here, or Grandma and Grandpa, as indeed happened to some Native
Americans. And I'm not talking about leaving human remains on display
as some kind of freak show, which was considered the height of the
scientific method during the 1930's at some sites. And having done it
before, I can tell you that for me, at least, handling human remains is
not something I enjoy. The thought of excavating an impact blast zone
site in Harrapan region of India, where blasted and burned skeletons
fill the streets by the thousands, makes me shudder.
But the living have rights as well as the dead. We, the living, have a
need to know when the climate failed and those people starved to death;
we need to know which diseases arose and spread and killed them; when
it rained and flooded and they were washed away and drowned; when the
earth quaked, or erupted, and buried them alive. And immediately we,
the Conference participants, particularly need to know when the
Unktena, the sky snakes, the asteroids and comets, hit their lands and
killed them. I suppose that some Native Americans stand as good a
chance as any of the rest of us of dying in the next impact event, but
I'm simply unwilling to enter into that kind of suicide pact with them.
We need to know how mankind operates. Not excavating is the same as
plucking out one's eyes.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF NORTH AMERICAN ARCHAEOLOGY
Be this is at may, it is little wonder that the needs of the living and
the scientific method used to satisfy those needs bear little weight
with these Native American activists. European colonists in North
America found it impossible to believe that ancestors of the Native
Americans who they had recently either killed or run off their land had
built the remains before them, and they spent decades trying to prove
that someone else did it. In fact, a good number of the "scientists"
here did their best to establish a bizarre Darwinian rationale to give
moral justification for further genocide, in a manner very similar to
that used in Nazi Germany. Little wonder then that some Native
American activists lump archaeologists together with the pot hunters.
The source for most of this trouble lies in the sad fate of the
brilliant 18th century scholar C.S. Rafinesque. Perfectly fluent in
six languages, and with a complete command of the natural sciences such
as they were at the time, Rafinesque applied himself to unraveling the
mysteries of the ancient Americans. Having gained a thorough
knowledge of European archaeology, again such as it was then,
Rafinesque made the not unreasonable assumption that the North American
earthworks had been built at the same times as similar works had been
built in Europe and North Africa. Rafinesque assembled a catalogue of
the Native American remains, and surveyed a number of them himself.
Rafinesque poured through the Native American myths and legends that
were available at the time, and gathered similar materials from Central
America, Siberia, and China. Well versed in Latin and Greek,
Rafinesque poured through the classics looking for any relevant
information, with the Atlantean myths and other such tales providing
what they could. Within this framework, Rafinesque fit all of the data
he had acquired.
However bizarre Rafinesque's work may seem to us today, the one thing
that he did not do was to belittle the role of the Native Americans.
They may have been Atlanteans to him, but they were still Native
Unfortunately Rafinesque died before he could publish his master piece.
Though his manuscript remained unpublished, even during his lifetime,
Rafinesque made his work freely available, and it was used,
particularly by those who were interested in dispossessing the Native
Americans of their lands. First among these must be John Haywood of
Tennessee, Rafinesque's contemporary, who in a bizarre twist used some
of Rafinesque's material to deny Cherokee, Creek, and Chikasaw land
Those further interested in the development of North American
archaeology may wish to check out "Mound Builders of Ancient America,
the Archaeology of a Myth", by Robert Silverberg, which while it
adequately catalogues the outrages, fails entirely in its assessment of
Rafinesque's role in providing the fodder for them.
Given this state of affairs, it is not surprising that in nearly all of
the literature most early Native American peoples are popularly lumped
together as "Mound Builders", as though they had nothing better to do
for a couple of millennia than pile up dirt. This term obscures
fundamental distinctions in the same way that referring to the British,
French, German, Spanish, and Italians as "Brick Builders" would.
Earth was the construction material, and different Native American
populations used it at differing times to build simple graves, group
graves, housing platforms, meeting place enclosures, observatories,
defensive walls and moats, household defensive platforms, and temples.
When these earth structures decayed they became mounds.
Significantly, as will be seen, differing groups of early Native
Americans in the Barbeque Zone also used stone for some constructions
at different times.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF NORTH AMERICAN MYTHOGRAPHY AND LINGUISTICS
As for mythography, while the first Europeans to contact the Native
Americans made some efforts to record their cultures, the European
diseases quickly took their toll, and then colonization proper began.
During this period the main items of interest were the locations of
rivers, paths, mountains, and towns, and how many warriors each town
had, who they had recently fought, and who were their present enemies.
By the time the Europeans had stopped killing the Native Americans and
started to record what they had to say, the tribes were in a thoroughly
decimated and scattered state. Following Franz Boas, analysis was
strictly forbidden, and a simple recording of the myths was the prime
focus. The result was that mythography focused on supposedly universal
"themes" used to catalogue the myths, and the coherent world views of
the different tribes were lost among these "themes".
There was nearly no work done on migration myths, and as one might
expect the only work done on myth development focused on post-contact
development. In the second generation the two best ethnographers were
James Mooney and John Swanton, who both were thoroughly enamored with
the people they were studying: Mooney the Cherokee, and Swanton the
Creek. Neither had much mastery of the archaeology of their regions,
and this for the most part was in a pretty undeveloped state.
This has had serious consequences beyond the study of population
movements, in particular Swanton's ascription to the Creek of Peter
Martyr's very complete description of Southern Ceremonial peoples,
which Martyr gained via direct interview with Spanish explorers. I will
make use of this extremely important account later, as it clears up a
number of baffling problems, and moves a number of concepts from
hypothesis to fact.
As for linguistics, often times the languages of tribes were "recorded"
after they had been absorbed by other tribes, and thus the languages of
those tribes were ascribed to them. This assignation was done even in
cases where the absorbing tribe and absorbed tribe had earlier been
fierce enemies. Since the lack of firm recordings did not discourage
the linguists, it should come as no surprise that the lack of a firm
archaeological record of migration did nothing to discourage them
either. As always, linguistics proceeded apace. Nonetheless, one
USE OF EUROPEAN CONTACT RECORDS
While French descriptions of the Natchez Southern Ceremonial people are
widely used today, thanks to Swanton's error Peter Martyr's incredibly
detailed account of Southern Ceremonial peoples is for all purposes
unknown. This is a blunder of the first magnitude. As for tribal
locations, and thus tribal migrations, a hot debate is going on about
the exact route of Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto's through the
Southeast. While some are trying to stop the debate by pointing to
Swanton as an authority, field truth shows the currently accepted
reconstruction of de Soto's route to be defective, at least in some
particulars. The role in Native American commerce of the major copper
and mica deposit in the Bald Mountains is ignored by all sides in this
Another particular deficit is that the histories of Tennessee and
Kentucky are widely represented as having started with the arrival of
English colonists in the areas, and French traders' records of their
arrival there first and their contacts with tribes are generally
ignored. Ignoring these French records of tribal locations naturally
leads to a lack of understanding of tribal movements.
THE SURVEY METHOD
With the price of gasoline at a recent high; and OPEC members not
wishing to sell their oil at as low as price as many here had hoped;
and the Israeli-Palestinian talks headed towards inevitable deadlock;
and President Clinton preparing to make a courtesy call on the newly
democratic oil producing country of Nigeria; Why, then, it seemed like
the perfect time to take a drive...
And drive you will if you wish to make a survey, as it is simply not
possible to use public transit to visit most Native American sites.
The United States today is largely suburban, and the primary form of
personal transport is by automobile. If you're visiting from abroad,
renting a car is the only option available.
STRIPPING OFF THE CULTURAL RESIDUE
One of the largest problems facing anyone working in strange territory
is being able to strip off the current culture and other cultural
residues so as to get to the landscape of the people at the time one
wishes to study. In this case what we're trying to get to is the
landscape at the time of the great Native American societies, and we
will have to strip off later cultural layers to get to it. The most
recent of these layers is that of the interstate highway system.
THE INTERSTATE HIGHWAY SYSTEM AND A FEW DRIVING TIPS
Most inter-city traffic in the United States travels on the interstate
highway system, which needs to be stripped away first, as it is the
most recent development. The interstate highway system was originally
rationalized in the 1950's by President Eisenhower as a civil defense
measure to ensure both quick evacuation of urban centers as well as the
quick transport of military supplies. The rationale was that the major
urban areas would be surrounded by ring roads, so that when nuclear
explosions destroyed the city centers the national lines of
communications would survive.
With low oil prices, and their ability to make point to point
deliveries with no need for the loading and unloading of cargo,
transport by lorry replaced transport by rail as the primary method of
manufacturing transport in the United States. Along these roads you
will usually see restaurants, petrol stations, motels (MOtoring
hoTELS), and stores which are franchised throughout the United States.
Inexpensive meals can be had at the fast food restaurants such as
McDonald's, Burger King, Hardees, and Wendy's; mid-price ($45) lodging
is nearly always available Motel 6 and Super 8 motels, provided you
check in by 5 o'clock or so.
This is as good a place as any to give some general tips for driving in
the United States. Modern US transport lorries have very large blind
spots and limited maneuverability and stopping power, and you must keep
this in mind when around them; and you will always be around them
anytime you are on the roads. The lorries actually do more damage to
the interstate highways than their taxes pay for, and often the right
lanes of these highways are in very rough shape. One might think that
size limits might be imposed, or that lorry taxes might be raised to
pay for road damage, but the trucking associations are an extremely
powerful political force. While it is now possible for rail companies
to deliver entire lorry cargo trailers from one collection point to
another collection point, with road travel on either end, at tremendous
efficiencies in labor and fuel costs, political action has generally
prevented them from doing this. Since the right lanes of the
interstate highways are in bad shape, use the left lanes to avoid
fatigue during long distance drives. (Also, don't follow Shoemaker,
and when in the US remember to drive on the right side of the road!)
Road surfaces are not the only thing which one has to watch out for. In
response to the danger presented by lorries, a good portion of the
people here have started to drive for personal use what is
euphemistically known as "sport utility vehicles", but might be better
known as "suburban battle wagons". These are massive trucks, vans, and
jeeps, which will pulverize any normally sized car which they happen to
collide with. Because of their size you can not see the road around
them, and this both gives them a certain amount of control over your
movement, as well as blinding you to both to any dangers ahead and to
signs giving directions to Native American sites. The best way of
handling these vehicles is simply to ignore the speed limits and drive
around them if possible.
THE POST INDUSTRIAL LANDSCAPE
The primary roads that the survey used were the "US" system. These
roads generally follow the oldest routes between cities, and thus
follow the roads of the colonists, who themselves followed Native
American trading paths.
Improvement of these roads, which started in the 1920's, was
accelerated under the leadership of President Roosevelt in the 1930's.
Until the construction of the interstate highway system, and before the
advent of low priced jet travel, most Americans would spend their
vacations driving along these roads, and it is often possible to find
low cost accommodation at older "motels" located along these roads.
As you drive along these roads approaching the cores of the old
urban centers, you will see mile after mile of suburban housing,
followed by mile after mile of abandoned and derelict housing and
manufacturing plants. Three factors came into play in producing this
landscape: first, the automobile; second, race relations; and third,
trade union policies.
To start with, by the 1920's to 1930's widespread ownership of the
automobile allowed the expansion of cities beyond the areas served by
the trolley cars then in use. The impulse to move to more open areas
was given further stimulus in 1954 by the decision of the Supreme Court
to stop the segregation of black and white schools. Whites fled the
cities, and usually you will see a central city where development
stopped in the late 1950's to early 1960's surrounded by prosperous
A further complicating factor in the production of this landscape was
the decision by many members of the Republican Party, under the
leadership of Richard Nixon, to use this racism to break the trade
unions, which had been strong supporters of the Democratic Party. In
return for allowing segregated practices to continue, the Republicans
were able to open US manufacturers to foreign competitors with far
lower labor costs and supported national currencies, to encourage
massive illegal immigration, and to stop the enforcement of laws
respecting union formation and bargaining. Thus you will also see mile
after mile of abandoned manufacturing plant.
One way that some localities have attempted to compensate for this
destruction of the manufacturing sector is through the promotion of
gaming. All along the Mississippi you will "riverboat" casinos and
"Indian" casinos. While Americans associate gaming with crime and have
a certain religious guilt about it, the "riverboat" casinos are somehow
justified on the historical basis that in the mid-1800's there were
riverboats, and people did gamble on them.
The "Indian" casinos proceed on a different basis. It was discovered
by several tribes a few years back that the treaties which had stripped
them of their lands and put them on reservations also reserved certain
legal rights to them. Included among these rights was the right to
avoid taxes on cigarettes and gasoline, and it was later discovered
that they also had the right to run gaming establishments. As these
casinos are located on the reservations to which the Native Americans
were moved by the Europeans, and often employ others, they are of no
use to a survey. Not only are these casinos no help, in fact some
Native American activists are now using the money raised from them to
stop the work of the archaeologists.
OBSERVATIONS ON GEORGIA, AN EXCEPTION TO THE RULE
Occasionally due to some peculiar combination of industry and political
leadership exceptions to this general pattern take place. The state of
Georgia serves as an example. The core of Georgia's largest city of
Atlanta is serviced by interstate highways some 16 lanes across, and it
remains prosperous. The mid-sized town of Columbus, Georgia, is
supported by the Army base of Fort Benning, has used its political
power to secure federal funds, and hosts a college. The small Georgia
town of Calhoun has used its political power to secure protection for
its carpet manufacturing industry, and it has continued to prosper.
It should be noted that people in Georgia drive in what I can best
describe as a hurried manner.
OBSERVATIONS ON TEXAS, AN EXCEPTION TO THE RULE, ITS GOVERNOR, AND THE
US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
Texas occupies an area so vast that many advertising firms design
advertisements especially for it, separate from those seen in the rest
of the nation. Texas's wealth is popularly believed to derive from its
oil supplies and agricultural abundance; but as many other states have
those resources, it is my belief that the source of its wealth lies
When one drives the roads in Texas, one is struck by their excellence.
As an engineer from Louisiana put it, Texas's tertiary roads are better
than Louisiana's primary roads. The source for this engineering
expertise seems to be Texas's schools, specifically Texas A&M and the
University of Texas. This excellence in engineering is also reflected
in Texas's petrochemical industries and Texas's architecture.
It is no accident that NASA has a major facility in Texas, and
this can be seen as an effort by President Johnson to continue Texas's
tradition of engineering excellence. George Bush Jr. has inserted a
strong space plank in the Republican platform, and while we can expect
strong support for NASA generally, I don't think that he has any
awareness of impact events.
There is another side to this interest in space. At the outbreak of
World War 2, as labor and electricity were widely available in the
Barbeque Zone, many defense plants were built there. As normal
manufacturing collapsed these plants played an increasingly important
role in area economies. Texas has its share of these plants as well.
THE LOCATIONS OF FIRST COLONIAL SETTLEMENT
Returning to the US highway system, often in the 1950's, before the
interstate highway system came along, by-passes to divert traffic would
be built around urban cores. Sometimes you will see signs marked
"Business 40", etc., which bear a certain irony as these are the roads
in the urban cores from which business has long since fled. Where these
roads, and thus the colonial roads, and thus the Native American
trading paths, cross the rivers is usually the area that where you will
find remains of Native American settlement sites.
While transport routes for the colonists and Native Americans were
similar, their industries and living requirements differed greatly.
Colonists had horses, used water power, had wells and privies, grew
wheat, and used iron tools to build their defensive structures.
Barbeque Zone Native Americans had no horses or water power, generally
required a small stream to provide fresh water, required an alluvial
soil to grow their maize, and had to depend on natural bluffs to some
degree for their defense.
But even to get to the colonial layer one must strip away the layer of
the trolleys and railroads. Trolley lines, usually built between 1875
and 1925, allowed the cities to expand. Oft times Native American
sites would have been held out of development until this time period,
but then used for some public function such as school or library
construction. Parts of the remains may still survive, but other times
all that is left of them is a "Mound Street" or "Mound Hill" road sign,
Before the trolley lines had come the railroads, which made possible
the transport of grains and live meat. The increased demand for grains
and feeds for both local livestock as well as export (these were horse
drawn societies, after all) led to the expansion of agricultural
production. This led to the plowing under and leveling of many sites,
and it is not unusual to find towns near these crossing points named
"Mound", "Mounds", or "Moundville" with no mounds now present.
Generally, but with important exceptions, rail lines connected already
existing riverboat towns, which in their turn had grown up where the
colonial roads and thus the Native American trading paths had crossed
rivers. Strip away the rail and riverboat industries, and you are at
the level of the forts the colonists used for their wars against the
Native Americans. The remains of the older occupation will be nearby.
TIPS ON VISITING "BAD AREAS"
The contemporary social factors described previously have left many
Native American ruins located in what are euphemistically called "bad
areas": areas with absolutely no industry, occupied by people descended
from the African slaves the colonists brought over to work the land
they took from the Native Americans. As a large portion of the leaders
of these black communities were almost always employed in
manufacturing, with the loss of industry they have lost their power.
As if this was not bad enough, the highly addictive drug crack cocaine
began to be used by some of these people; and then it got worse, as
certain media executives, under the pretext of giving voice to the
frustrations of these people, encouraged the use of this drug and the
trade in it, and violence, and violence against women.
When visiting these areas my first suggestion is dress like a US
native, and show no foreign clothing. Tennis shoes, blue jeans, and a
standard white shirt will work well for men. Second, do not let your
accent be overheard, which will identify you as a foreigner and thus an
easy victim. Third, always remain aware of those in your surroundings.
Forth, always make sure that no valuables are visible inside of your
NATIVE AMERICAN TRADE PATHS
Some contemporary authors be-little the trade paths of the Native
Americans by describing them as "animal paths". While it is quite
natural that migrating animals would take the easiest route through any
landscape, Native American trade paths are far more complicated than
that. First, a source of a trade good must be nearby. Second, Native
Americans of the Barbeque Zone generally seem to have used dugout
canoes to float down-river for trade, and then abandoned their craft
and used land routes to walk home. Before the later migrations and the
collapse of trade, which itself occurred just before European contact,
these paths were in excellent shape, and travel at the rate of 50 miles
a day over 500+ mile routes seems to have been common.
Regrettably, I only discovered Carrie Eldridge's excellent books "An
Atlas of Appalachian Trails" and "An Atlas of Southern Trails" on the
last day of my survey. This necessitated a great deal of work on my
part, and in my opinion one would be a fool to start on any survey
without studying these two works in detail for at least a month
LIST OF SITES VISITED
The following is a list of sites visited for the survey, as well as
sites visited on earlier trips west (indicated by "earlier visit").
The list does not include Native American sites visited on earlier
trips through the Southwest, California, the Pacific Northwest, the
Northeast, or North Central areas of the United States. Those sites
where it was impossible to view the collections due to arriving after
hours or because of closure are indicated by "site only".
o Pamunky Burial Mounds, Pamunky Indian Reservation, Virginia,
on York River (earlier visit)
o Indian Mound Cemetery, Romney, West Virginia, on trade path
o Grave Creek Mound, Moundsville, West Virginia, on Ohio River
o Narietta Mound, Marietta, Ohio, on Ohio River (earlier visit)
o Hopewell Culture National Historic Park, Chillicothe, Ohio,
on Chillicothe River, on trade path
o Newark Mounds, Newark, Ohio, on trade path (earlier visit)
o Serpent Mound, Ohio
o Forthill, Ohio, stone fort
o Fort Ancient, Ohio, stone fort (earlier visit)
o Seip's Mound, Ohio
o Miamisburg Mound, Miamisburg, Ohio, outside of Dayton
o Cincinnati, Ohio, area of mounds
o Cahokia, Illinois, major religious center for tribes
controlling the Mississippi, Missouri, Illinois, and Kaskasia
o Dickson Mounds, Illinois (site only), on Illinois River
o Kempton, Illinois (area only), on Illinois plains
o Vincennes Cemetery, Vincennes, Indiana, on Wabash River
o Angel Mounds, Kentucky (site area only), on Ohio River
o Mound City, Illinois, (area only, only one mound remaining, on
private land) at junction of Ohio and Mississippi Rivers
o Wickliffe Mounds, Kentucky, at junction of Ohio and Mississippi
o Towosahgy, south of junction of Ohio and Mississippi Rivers
o Parkins, Arkansas, European contact period site
o Toltec Mounds, Arkansas, near Arkansas River
o Caddoan Mounds, Texas
o Museum of the Gulf Coast, Port Arthur, Texas
o (I am informed that the Indian Mounds at the Indian Mounds
Recreation Area on the Sabine River in Texas are submerged.)
o Nacadoches, Texas, area only
o Los Adaes, Louisiana
o Natchitoches, Louisiana
o Marksville Mounds, Marksville, Louisiana
o Grand Village of the Natchez, Natchez, Mississippi,
(area of village only)
o Emerald Mound, huge mound, Natchez federation meeting site,
o Owl Creek Mounds on Natchez Parkway, Mississippi
o Nanih Waiya, Mississippi
o Vicksburg, Mississippi, area only
o Poverty Point, Louisiana, on tributary of Atchafalaya
o Winterville Mounds, Mississippi, near Mississippi River
o Chucalissa, village near Memphis, Tennessee
o Memphis, federation ceremonial complex, DeSoto Park, across
from National Ornamental Metal Museum, undeveloped
o Moundsville, south of Tuscaloosa, Alabama;
a major federation center located on the Black Hawk River,
a tributary of the Tombigbe River, which flows into the Gulf at
o Columbus, Georgia, no remains, area only
o Ocmulgee, Macon, Georgia, major federation center
o Etowah, Calhoun, Georgia
o Chatanooga, Tennessee, area only
o Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga, Tennessee, site of stone fort
o Knoxville, Tennessee, area only
IMPORTANT SITES NOT VISITED INCLUDE:
o Lizard Mounds, North of Westbend, Wisconsin, 31 effigy mounds
o Aztalan and Rock Lake, Wisconsin. off a tributary of the
Wisconsin River, on trade route to copper supplies in upper
peninsula of Michigan. Numerous burials under stone piles, and
mound complex which appears to be the northern most outpost of
the Southern Ceremonial Cult peoples
o The Galena district of Wisconsin, source of lead
o Tooleswell Mounds, a Hopewell complex on the Mississippi River
in eastern Iowa
o Toolesboro, Iowa, 2 large mounds between Lake Odessa and the
o Effigy Mounds, 200 mounds including animal effigies, on the
Mississippi River in Iowa
o Hanibal, Missouri; mounds in town, salt deposit to west
o Camden Park Mound, Huntington, West Virginia
o Neville, Ohio; Adena mound
o Enoch, Ohio; Adena mound
o Indian Park Mound, Cedarville, Ohio; Adena mound
o Shrum Mound, Columbus, Ohio; Adena mound
EAST STONE FORT
o Old Stone Fort, Manchester, Tennessee
o Fort Mountain State Park, Chatsworth, Georgia
o Rocky Face, Georgia
o Catoosa National Guard Rifle Range, Ringold
o McLemore's Cove, Kensington, (Tennessee)
o Alec Mountain, 7 miles northwest of Clarksville, Habersham
County (Tennessee) - particularly important site - a circle 90
feet in diameter (Adena or Hopewell) was enclosed by a wall 3
o Brown's Mount, near Macon, Georgia
o Ladd Mountain, near Cartersville, Georgia
o De Soto Falls, Alabama
o Albany Mounds, Albany, Illinois
o Kincaid Mounds, Metropolis, Illinois, across from junction of
Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers with Ohio River
o Mound Bottom, on Harpeth River, tributary of Cumberland River
o Nashville, area only?
o Shiloh Mounds on Shiloh Battlefield, south of Savanah,
Tennessee, on Tennessee River
o The mounds in Florence, Alabama on the Tennessee River
o Copperhill, Tennessee, near Hiwasee River, tributary of
Tennessee River, source for pure copper sheets and nuggets
o Spruce Mountain Mineral District, Mitchell County, North
Carolina, near Holston and French Broad Rivers, tributary of
Tennessee River, source for sheets of mica
o New Madrid, site to east across from Wolf Island -
possible federation center?
o Obion site, Tennessee, on
Obion River, tributary of Mississippi River
o Pinson Mounds, Tennessee, on the South Fork of the Deer River,
tributary of Mississippi River
o Watson Break, Louisiana, on Ouchita River tributary of
Achafalaya River, site in process of acquisition, 3400 BCE,
includes ring mound and embankment
o Two large mounds on the Louisiana State University Campus,
Baton Rouge, Louisiana on the Mississippi River, dated to 3,000 BCE
o An unexcavated site on the Gulf Coast on Atchafalaya Bay
o An unexcavated site on the Black River, very near its junction
with the Red River
o Troyville, Louisiana, on the Black River, a tributary of the
o Coles Creek, Louisiana, a site on the Bayou
Macon, a tributary running parallel and slightly to the
west of the Mississippi River, 2 major mounds only,
no flanking structures
o Spiro Mounds, Oklahoma, on the misleadingly named Canadian
River, an extension of the Arkansas River
o Belcher Mound, Louisiana - small Caddoan site near Great Raft
o Lower Suwanee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida, 1 mound dated
to 2,500 BCE
o Historic Spanish Fort, Florida, multiple mounds dating to
o Crystal River Mounds, Florida, occupied 500 BCE - 1400 AD
o Weedon Island, Florida multiple mounds conquered sometime
between 800 - 1000 AD
o Lake Jackson Mounds, Tallahasee, Florida, on Ochlockonee River,
Southern Ceremonial federation site, 1200-1500 AD
o Mount Royal, Florida, on St. John's River, Federation site
o Indian Temple Mound, one mound dated 1300's AD
o Kolomoki Mounds, Georgia, on Chattahoochee River
o sites on Chattahoochie River north of Atlanta
o area of federation complex at Birmingham, Alabama
This list was assembled before I examined Rafinesque's manuscript, and
there are sites listed and described there which I have not had time to
examine in any detail. Parts of Rafinesque's work are available on
microfilm at the Library of Congress and British Museum.
-- to be continued.
Copyright 2000, Ed Grondine
EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED: SEARCHING FOR HISTORICAL IMPACTS IN NORTH
AMERICA AND A SURVEY OF SOUTHERN AND EASTERN NATIVE AMERICAN SITES
By E.P. Grondine <firstname.lastname@example.org>
FROM THE BEGINNINGS TO TROYVILLE
THE SURVEY BEGINS
I spent the 4th of July weekend lounging in a friend's swimming pool a
few miles down-river from Fredericksburg, Virginia. While we were
enjoying beverages, one of his neighbors who lived down the road
insisted on pointing out some local features to me. From my friend's
front porch one could see the site of George Washington's mother's
family's house, which had burned down over a hundred years before. The
house had been situated on the first road which connected the Potomac
River with the Rappahannock River, at the point at which the colonists
had built a fort for protection against the "Indians". My friend's
neighbor claimed that his house had been built over the graveyard of
Washington's mother's family's slaves, and that they were haunting him
and his family.
Ultimately, the port had moved upriver from the fort, to the falls at
Fredericksburg, and the road between the rivers had been re-routed.
George Washington's family bought and moved to the new ferry at "Ferry
Farms", and his brother set up a bar in the town. What I learned from
all of this is that the old real estate adage "Location, Location,
Location", remains as true as ever, and that for the most part the key
to wealth in the Barbeque Zone was to take land from the Native
Americans and then work it with slaves.
THE TRIP WEST AND THE AUTHOR'S BIASES
The trip west began at Fort Ashby, West Virginia, near my mother's
ancestral home. A popular American myth concerning George Washington is
that he was merely a young minor military officer, who had surrendered
to the French after enduring a siege. While it's true Washington had
surrendered after enduring a siege, the reason why he had been besieged
was that when sent at age 21 to oust the French from a fort in Ohio, he
had ambushed a French diplomatic party. After the French released
Washington, he had then accompanied British general Bradock on a
campaign against them. Washington survived the French of Braddock's
army, and then was assigned to set up and staff 50 forts extending along
the frontier of Virginia, which at that time ran along the Appalachians
from the Potomac River to the Tennessee River. Washington was no minor
Washington had placed the fort at Fort Ashby because "Indians" from a
village here had attacked and killed 50 European colonists. The first
contingent he sent to Fort Ashby had been killed by an "Indian"
attack. My mother's ancestors had first come to Fort Ashby as part of
the second contingent of troops.
On my father's side I am of French Canadian descent, and the French had
a different way of handling the natives than the English. They married
them, and as a result I am 1/16 Huron. I often imagine that my mother's
ancestor and my father's ancestor met on somewhat less than friendly
terms somewhere up here in these mountains.
But what of the local Native Americans? They were quickly killed off.
They were Monacans, or Mannahoacs, but as nothing was learned of their
language and culture before they were killed, if you look at the maps
all you will see is a blank spot.
Talking to the fellow who owns the house next door to the fort, I
learned that excavations had turned up a point dated to 6,000 BCE. For
some reason the route that had run through Fort Ashby to the gap in the
Appalachian Mountains at Cumberland had been in use from ancient times.
My journey continued on to Romney, West Virginia, where the Indian
Mound Cemetery can be found on the old Native American trade path to
the west. One thing that is known about the Mannhoacs is that they were
"mound builders", in the sense that they built group burial graves of
earth. In fact, at the time of colonization the eastern Piedmont of the
Appalachian Mountains had multiple mound remains, but as they were
associated by the first colonial farmers with their enemies the
Mannahoacs they quickly plowed them under. Clearing land for
agriculture, Thomas Jefferson excavated a burial mound on his property
and demonstrated to his own satisfaction that it was recent and
Mannahoac. Since Jefferson's excavation all the former mounds of the
Piedmont have been assumed to be Mannahoac, though most likely this was
not the case. Unfortunately an unknown number of those mounds which
survived the first colonial farmers were pretty thoroughly destroyed by
the excavations of the eccentric antiquarian William Pidgeon, who
needed artifacts to sell for his business. The mound at Romney had been
excavated by archaeologists from the Smithsonian at the turn of the
century, and I don't think that any one has paid any attention since
then to their work there.
THE ROUTE WEST
I followed the old trade path to the west, winding through mountain
roads, until reaching the Robert Byrd Highway. This is a marvel of
engineering, and a joy to drive; with 20/600 vision, for the first time
in years I was able to take off my glasses and drive.
While much is made of Senator Robert Byrd's ability to secure highway
moneys, the representatives from Ohio show even greater abilities. I
was desirous of traveling the Native American trade path to
Chilicothe, Ohio along "old" US 50, but as local youths have made it a
hobby to shoot out highway signs, I soon found myself on Ohio 32.
Given the crowded traffic on Interstate 70, with the completion of the
bridge at Parkersburg US 50-Ohio 32 will be a new major route west.
The Ohio legislators will have succeeded both in funneling a large part
of east-west continental traffic through Cincinnati, and in turning
rural farm land into valuable real estate. I salute them.
I now reached the plains.
It is widely believed that the plains in North America do not begin
until one has crossed the Mississippi, and that these are restricted to
the north and west of that river. But the best way of thinking of the
center of North America is as the bottom of a sea floor, which is what
it was through most of the age of the dinosaurs. The soil from this
sea floor is rich in the north, and poor and sandy in the south.
On this plain the land is so flat that water has a difficult time
figuring out which way to flow; rivers change course within human
lifetimes, often stranding older human settlements in land locked
positions. An example of this of immediate interest is that the
Achafalaya River not only parallels the Mississippi; during "mound
builder" times it actually was the "West Mississippi".
Another result of this flatness is that there were and are large areas
of marsh, such as the Louisiana bayous. This marsh is not limited to
the south, and parts of the plains of Illinois and Indiana were marshy
before they were drained for agriculture.
But the plains are not all flat. Another process worth noting is that
when prevailing westerly winds hit the eastern banks of rivers and rise
up over them, they deposit higher and higher ridges of soil. When the
rivers shift course, these ridges remain as hills.
To the east, in the center, a ridge of mountains projects out from the
Appalachian Mountains into the floor of this sea, with the Ohio River
flowing along the north of it and the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers
flowing through it. In the north, the plains start after one crosses
the Ohio River, with allowances for run off from the ancient rivers
which ran out of the Appalachians.
South of this ridge, the rivers flow from the north to south into the
Gulf through a rolling landscape. The Big Black and the Pearl River run
through Mississippi, the Tennesaw-Tombigbee-Black Warrior and the
Tennesaw-Alabama-Coosa through Alabama. The Appalachian Mountains
themselves continue south from where this ridge meets them well down
towards the Gulf, and while the Chatahoochee and Flint flow through
Georgia and then cut through the mountains to flow into the Gulf,
further east the rivers drain southeast towards the Atlantic: the
Ocmulgee River, the Oconee, the Savanah, the Saluda-Broad-Catawba fan
draining through Charleston, and the PeeDee River, going from south to
This ridge picks up again much to the west of the Mississippi, where
its mountains form the Ozark or Arkansas Plateau. Just as the Tennessee
River flows through its middle on the east, the Arkansas River flows
through it in the west. On the south side of this ridge, the waters from
the plateau feed the Red River, which flows east; south of the Red
River, the rivers flow southeast to the Gulf. To the north of this
ridge the rivers feed the Missouri.
THE ANCIENT SIBERIAN LAND BRIDGE(S) AND THE PALEO AND ARCHAIC HUNTERS
While they are outside the scope of the survey proper, a few words on
the Paleo and Archaic hunters are in order at this point.
It is also popularly believed that "the" ancient Siberian land bridge
which allowed man to cross into the Americas ran down the Pacific
coast. While some Pacific coastal sites are most certainly now under
water due to rising sea levels, it is certain that a main corridor ran
inland of the coastal mountain ridge, a corridor which connected to the
plains of North America.
The dates when people first crossed this land bridge are hotly
contested, and the story breaks down completely. Some argue that there
were multiple crossings, some very very early, with DIFFERENT racial
types coming across each time, racial types as different as say Chinese
and Japanese. Some argue that a wave of very early people came first,
and that then a wave of "oriental" Native Americans was followed by a
wave of more "european" Native Americans. But problems arise, as the
actual rate of human mutation in response to diet and environment is
unknown. It is clear that the current generation of Japanese is much
taller than their parents, in response to nothing more than a change in
diet between one generation and the other.
The occupation sites that have been found and studied are widely
scattered in time and space, and there are no less than 3 lithic
traditions and 1 a-lithic tradition present. Whoever they were, the
Paleo peoples hunted large game such as mammoth and ground sloths to
extinction, pursuing the vanishing herds to the south and east of the
North American continent.
Total game populations as well as the environment are pretty well
unknown. It is known that in Africa large herds of elephant have
converted forested areas to grassland, and that later Native Americans
would intentionally set fires both as a way of hunting bison as well as
to provide pasturage for deer. Besides stampeding game off of cliffs,
other techniques clearly show trapping mammoth in bogs, and the
digging of pit traps certainly seems possible.
With regard to the peoples of the Barbeque Zone, a final migration must
also be noted. The Red Paint peoples show up on Canada's northern east
coast at a very early time. Their economy was ocean based and seems to
have relied upon the harvesting of a flightless bird which is now
extinct, possibly as a result of this harvesting, in the same manner as
mammoths, sloths, etc.. Amazingly, their culture shows affinities with
contemporaneous northern European cultures.
With the extinction of large game comes the introduction of smaller
projectile points. This is generally taken as an indication that the
Archaic peoples were beginning to hunt smaller game, for the most part
deer in the east and south, with bison restricted to the west and the
Another possibility is the development of the atlatl, a stick used to
throw spears. It took anthropologists many years of research to
understand how the atlatl works, but it is clear now that the atlatl
provides enormous force, so much force that Spanish conquistadors were
afraid of them because their projectiles could penetrate their armour.
Able to penetrate the thickest hide, when used by a skilled thrower the
atlatl also provided added range against smaller game.
One of the most common things found in excavations are circular disks
of stone used to play the game of chunke. These disks were rolled on
the ground, and the object of the game was to strike the place where
the disk would stop rolling. Also found in excavations are parts of
atlatl kits, which were often mislabeled as being personal ornaments,
as no one understood how atlatls worked at the time of the excavations.
They remain mislabeled as personal ornaments to this day.
Another hunting technology that was widely used was the blowgun, which
was particularly effective against small game. Usually, when one
travels to excavated sites, one finds blowgun mouthpieces labeled as
pipes, even though the design of the object is completely inappropriate
for smoking. While there were pipes, their interiors have never been
checked for organic residues, and what was smoked in them is always
asserted to be tobacco, while there is absolutely no evidence for
tobacco use during very early periods.
ARBOREAL TECHNIQUES: THE USE OF NUTS AND FRUITS
Just as wild deer played something of the same role for Native
Americans as domesticated cattle did for Europeans, nuts such as acorn,
hickory, pecan and walnut played the same role as grains did. The
first settled Native American societies depended on nuts for starches
and oils. While at this time it is not clear exactly how they managed
them, it is clear that manage them they did. Peter Martyr's informants
described tree grafting, but most likely this was a fairly late
technique. Of particular note is the role of the pecan, which though
very small at first, grew in importance as a staple crop. It is worth
noting that acorns, which played a large role in these peoples diets,
must be processed to remove their tanin before they can be eaten by
Along with the management of nut trees, these people also began the
management of fruit trees such as persimmon, and the management of
fruit bushes such as wild grape and hackberry.
In some areas these peoples' ancient groves survived the rigors of
climatic change and the environment through the ages, and first
colonists would often note a "Hickory Hill" or "Cherry Hill" or some
such. But there is no overall database of these clusters of cultivated
trees, as well as no ready to hand information on the original ranges
of these species.
THE FIRST CULTAGENS
As will be seen, maize actually makes a late appearance. At this time
the collection of seeds from honey locust, goosefoot knotweed and
doveweed began, and there was some use of squash. Crops such as
squash, pumpkins, and sunflower root and seed would be cultivated
before maize, though after the period we are looking at now.
THE DUGOUT CANOE
It seems likely that as well as hunting game paleo and archaic hunters
utilized river sources of sea-food. Fording a stream was usually
accomplished by throwing trees or stones into it until a dry passage
could be made across it. It is a short step from this to the building
of a fish trap, where migrating fish are herded by means of a stone
gate into a basket seine.
Crossing larger rivers requires something else, and I am not exactly
sure when the technology of dugout canoes was developed, or if it was
ever lost at all. Here a tree is felled and the core of it burned out,
leaving a shell which is then finished into a hull by hand. Lips were
left at both ends of the craft so that it could be beached or portaged
Very few of these dugouts have been recovered, but the preferred wood
in later times appears to have been poplar, because of its light
weight. Some later Native American illustrations show 2 man dugouts in
use, but these may have been for communication only. From those
recovered, a 3 man craft seems to have been used for trade, as while
portaging 2 men could carry the craft while the third carried the trade
goods. Other illustrations from the contact period show 3 man craft
used as workboats, with 2 people controlling the boat while the third
Combined with the weighted net, these watercraft made it possible to
harvest fish and waterfowl.
THE FIRST "MOUNDS"
Ancient Native Americans now had sufficient food technologies to enable
them to live in one place, or at least in the same area, for long
periods of time, provided there was an environment where all of these
technologies could be utilized at the same time. There were several
such environments, but the ones we're interested in were not directly
ON the two branches of the Mississippi River. These two branches of the
Mississippi River itself were simply too large, too liable to flood, and
their banks not dry enough for trees. The place where this environment
occurred was on the smaller tributaries of the East and West
Mississippi, roughly from north Louisiana south.
The use of earth as a building material starts around 4,000 BCE in
these areas. Given a flat and marshy environment prone to flooding, the
desire for housing elevated above it is obvious.
THE FIRST RIVER SOCIETIES
These food technologies allowed a fairly dense settlement of areas, and
this led to the need to organize larger social units. This was
accomplished by holding periodic meetings of nearby groups, and the
first structure to enable this type of meeting which is known of is
Watson Break, Louisiana, dated to 3,400 BCE. Louisiana archaeologists
are desperately seeking funds to acquire this site, but as the state is
near bankruptcy, they have been unable to raise them yet. There are
also at least 2 other major sites which they would like to acquire, and
I wish them the best of luck.
While 11 mounds are counted altogether at Watson Break, it looks to me
to be rather more like 6 major mounds connected by an embankment to
form a circle with a gate. The number 6 is significant, as will be
THE FIRST COASTAL SETTLEMENTS: LARGER DUGOUT CANOES
Along the Gulf Coast, a different pattern was emerging. Contact reports
describe the later existence of canoes capable of carrying 75 to 90 men,
and given the waters of the Gulf, the use of dugouts of this size must
have begun at about this time. While probably these dugouts were built
from one very large tree at first, they may later have been built by
placing heavy one piece sides on a dugout core, as was done in the
Chesapeake Bay area at a much later date.
These larger canoes must have allowed different food resources to be
utilized. Two of the interesting things about Watson Break and Poverty
Point appear to be both the lack of fish hooks as well as no use of
shell fish such as clams and mussels as food sources.
One problem we now run into is the lack of preserved sites. Due to
rising sea levels, many coastal areas between Louisiana and Florida are
now submerged. To the west hurricanes have also certainly washed away
at least one site, and most likely nearly all the rest. One important
coastal site remains unexcavated in Louisiana, which is alluded to in
the site list.
In Florida, societies emerged which replaced lithic technologies with
shell based implements. While some of these societies remained stable
for thousands of years until European contact, they also remained
outside the area of trade interaction with Native American societies to
the North. What is clear from contact records is that these peoples
possessed sufficient skills to control the access to their parts of the
coast, and this pattern is likely to have held to the west, with
important consequences, as will be seen.
In a coastal area hurricanes are a yearly danger, and one way of
surviving hurricane flooding is simply to build your house on a very
highly elevated platform. Up river from the coast, at the Baton Rouge
mounds, dated to 3,000 BCE, we see evidence of a society organized in
an entirely different manner than that which was emerging on the
rivers. At this site we find 2 large mounds, indicating a much more
centralized and stratified society than that found at Watson Break.
This is significant, as we will see later.
THE SECOND GENERATION OF RIVER SOCIETIES: THE CLAN SYSTEM AND POVERTY
In human social groups a method must be found to prevent interbreeding
and genetic defect, and one method of doing this is by a matriarchal
clan system, wherein marriage with members of the mother's clan is
forbidden. At the Poverty Point site, built around 1,730 BCE just
down-river from the Watson Break site, we see evidence of a clan
system which was extended far beyond the immediate area, and which
enabled peaceful contact with other groups of humans over a wide
geographic area of thousands of miles.
The Poverty Point site is composed of 6 half rings facing the river,
with each ring further divided into 6 segments. It was first though
that these rings were defensive structures; and then observatories; but
excavation has shown that they are simply the bases for houses. As the
nearby Poverty Point area would not be sufficient to support a
population of this size, it is clear that this structure was used for
periodic, and most likely annual, meetings. The presence of clearly
ceremonial mounds at Poverty Point as well as the recovery of tokens
showing ceremony participation indicate this as well. The system shown
then is that each area, whose ritual area comprised 6 ring segments,
was comprised of 6 clans.
This culture spread. Sites have been found at Jaketown, on what was
then the Eastern Branch of the Mississippi, and near its mouth at
Cedarland and Claiborne. Immediately to the west of Poverty Point sites
have been found on the Ouachita River and Vermillion River.
This clan system had implications for trade, as a member of any one
clan who visited another village would be certain to find there a
member of his clan who would help him. That the clan system enabled
trade is shown by the fact that items from the modern states of
Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama
have all been found at Poverty Point.
An obvious flaw in the determination of how far Poverty Point culture
spread is in the analysis of its trading network. The source of crystal
quartz found at Poverty Point has not been not identified, but it almost
certainly comes from Mitchell County, North Carolina. It has also been
assumed that all Native American copper found at Poverty Point comes
from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, without any spectral tests being
performed. Copperhill, Tennessee, near to the North Carolina quartz
source, is an obvious candidate, and based on far later remains, it is
probably the most likely one. Again, without spectral tests, it has
been assumed that the source for the galena lead mineral found at
Poverty Point is in Wisconsin, while colonial records show a lead mine
on the Wabash River in Ohio, near the junction of the Tennessee River
with the Ohio River.
ONE TYPE OF NATIVE AMERICAN COSMOLOGY: THE HORNED SNAKE, THE
THUNDERBIRD, AND THE THUNDERBIRD CULT
Both an enormous mound at Poverty Point as well as a smaller one are
shaped like birds. These works are without question tied to certain
Native American cosmological theories, which were widely held with
variants. In this system asteroids are viewed as "horned snakes", which
are known by various names: by the Cherokee as Unktena and on the
plains as Unkteni or Uncegila.. The "horns" of these snakes are
extremely hard, and are of extreme value. Sometimes these "horned
snakes" are grouped together with spitting snakes, which are comets,
sometimes not. As in Middle Eastern societies, there is no
differentiation between asteroid and cometary impact and lightening,
which is simply seen as a smaller snake.
One of the key facts which generally eludes modern mythologists is that
these Native Americans often saw space as a cold dark lake, and the
water aspect of these "snake" myths is a complete bafflement to them.
But this is only a minor quibble, as most modern Native American
mythologists have no idea of impact events or of their role in Native
The "thunderbirds", known as Tlanuwa to the Cherokee, were the
protectors against the snakes. Naturally, when these "thunderbirds"
defeated either an asteroid or lightening the sound of thunder would be
heard. The following Menomini tale sums the matter up as concinctly as
possible, even though it is from a northern tribe whose cosmology
features a male sun and uses a different language:
"Far, far away in the west where Sun sets, there floats a great
mountain in the sky: above Earth the rocks lie tier on tier. These
cliffs are too lofty to be reached by any earthly bird: even the great
war eagle can not soar so high.
"But on the summit of this mountain dwell the Thunderbirds. They have
control over the rain and hail. The are messengers of Great Sum
himself, and their influence induced Sun and Morning Star to give the
great war-bundles to our race. They delight in fighting and great
deeds, (and) they are mighty enemies of the horned snakes, the
Misikinubik. Were it not for the thunderers, these snakes would
overwhelm the earth and devour mankind.
"When the weather is fair, then watch as you travel abroad, for the
snakes come out to bask in the sun; but when the weather is cloudy, you
need fear nothing, for the Thunderers come searching from behind the
clouds for their enemies, the Misikinubik."
Many Conference participants have commented on the odd use in the
movies "Deep Impact" and "Armageddon" of astronauts to stop impactors,
which is beyond the bounds of belief. But this use of human actors has
ancient precedents. Naturally, as these people did want to feel
unprotected against impact and lightening, they needed a method to
invoke the help of the "thunderbirds". This was accomplished by their
priest-kings emulating the thunderbirds to the extent possible. While
no burials have been discovered to date at Poverty Point, less than 1%
of the site has been excavated, and based on later cultural remains, it
is clear that an early form of these priest-kings were functioning here
on these fairly massive "thunderbird" mounds.
Why the construction of such huge "thunderbird" mounds at this time?
It may be possible that the intense effort is tied in some manner to
the Rio Cuarto event and ensuing climatic collapse, even though this
event preceded the ring complex at Poverty Point by 300 to 400 years,
for the largest of the bird mounds has not been excavated to its
initial construction point
These "thunderbird" mounds also were aligned to the solstices. Contact
era reports show astronomical lore being passed down through dances,
and these will be covered in some detail later. The image of some of
the archeao-astronomers who I have met hoofing their way through these
numbers always brings a smile.
INTOXICANTS AND PHARMACEUTICALS
One of the continuing mysteries to the excavators of Poverty Point is
why trade routes evolved as they did. This is not surprising, as no
where among North American anthropologists is any account made for
Native American trade in intoxicants and pharmaceuticals. That modern
intoxicants and pharmaceuticals have extreme value is evident, as their
modern prices commonly exceed the price of gold.
The only items that are allowed discussion are the "black drink" and
tobacco, which is more reflective of current use of coffee and
cigarettes by Americans than of anything else. It is always assumed
that pipes are used to smoke tobacco only, and pipes are never checked
for residue oils from other organic materials.
That Central American peoples used psylocibin has been established
beyond doubt. Whether the use of these mushrooms spread is an open
question. Different species of psylocibin also grow along the rivers in
the southern United States which lead into the Gulf Coast, and while I
have no detailed knowledge of the exact native ranges today of these
mushrooms, I suspect that some occupation centers must have been
situated in the dead center of those ranges. It must also be noted that
these mushrooms are very sensitive to climate and surrounding
vegetation, and that both were much different then than now.
Other american peoples made use of bufotonin derived from frog skins,
both as an intoxicant, and as a paralyzing poison for tipping blow gun
darts. The frog motif is very common in Native American artifacts in
this area, and modern use of frogs for intoxication ("toad licking")
has been reported in recent times in the Barbeque Zone.
I had been under the impression that hemp, and thus marijuana, was an
import from the Old World, but have read scattered reports that it also
occurred in North America as a native species. I do not know whether
"Indian Hemp", apocynum cannabium, is of the same family, or if it is
intoxicating; while I have no further interest, perhaps some of the
Conference participants may want to investigate this privately on their
As psylocibin, bufotonin, and marijuana can all be smoked, any claim
without proof that pipes were solely used to smoke tobacco only has to
be held suspect. Even then it is necessary to remember a key fact, that
the variety of tobacco used by these peoples was much different than the
variety of tobacco used today, and that in point of fact this variety
had narcotic properties.
In historical times the Caddo area of Texas was a Native American
trading center for mescal beans, which despite their name are not
related to the peyote (mescaline) cactus, but rather to the beans. At
a later time the use of daturas was fairly widespread among Native
American peoples. They were usually used in a yearly festival known as
the huskinaw, pushk, or busk, in which the young men of a tribe were
"initiated" by the ingestion of massive amounts of this extraordinarily
powerful hallucinogen. Hallucinations lasting weeks are common.
You will often see these daturas identified as "snake roots" of one
sort or another, as at low doses Native American peoples used them as
anti-histamines to block the effects of the venom of poisonous snakes.
That the religious use of intoxicants was overseen by the same
individuals who treated disease is almost assured.
Another trade good which North American anthropologists fail to track
is salt. There are no mappings of areas of natural salt deposits, and
very little is done in studying the development or use of those salt
production methods which were documented at the time of European
THE FIRST "POTTERY" AND "OVENS"
While paleo hunters wove baskets whose light weight allowed the storage
of items for carriage, "pottery" first appears at Poverty Point. The
remains of woven baskets covered with mud and then baked have been
found there, as well as baked mud vessels tempered with moss. These
containers must have been used for dry storage only, as it has been
experimentally shown that it is impossible to cook in these vessels.
While it had been thought that the Poverty Point people cooked their
food by throwing heated clay balls into these pots, it has been shown
experimentally that this technique does not work. Instead the people
of Poverty Point used these clay balls to cook some of their foods by
throwing them into a fire, and then stirring the fire to let the ashes
fall to its bottom, leaving the balls as a clean cooking surface.
POVERTY POINT VILLAGES
Poverty Point type ceremonial centers were surrounded by villages and
seasonal camps, which varied in size from 1 to 100 acres. Dozens of
major sites are located within a 25 mile radius of the Poverty Point
CYCLIC CLIMATE COLLAPSE AND THE EARLY WOODLAND CULTURES
It is currently estimated that the Poverty Point ceremonial center was
abandoned around 1350 BCE, and that the other Poverty Point type
centers elsewhere were also abandoned at about the same time. This
period is roughly the time of the Late Bronze Age migrations in Europe,
and it seems likely that climate was at work.
Unlike Europe and China, where the migration is roughly from north to
south, in North America the migration pattern is not as clear. What
emerges during this collapse are more widely dispersed villages of the
Early Woodland type, spreading to the Atlantic coast and well up into
the Ohio valley. It is certain that in some areas merely the culture
changed, with the ethnic group remaining the same, but at least one
case there is clearly migration.
THE ADENA: A PEOPLE WITHOUT THE THUNDERBIRD CULT
1000 BCE marks the arrival of a distinctly different people in the Ohio
Valley. Unlike earlier inhabitants, who were shorter and had narrow
skulls, these people had broad skulls and commonly reached 5 to 6 feet
Adena foods seem similar to those seen at Poverty Point, and Atlatl
weights, blow gun mouthpieces, and "tablets" used for the application
of toxins to blow gun points are commonly found in graves. The Adena
built large ditched villages, often digging their ditches in circles,
squares, pentagons, or following natural edges. Many have tried to see
these as the fore-runners of "Hopewell" Hopewell observatories, but
"Hopewell" Hopewell observatories show no sign of all-year occupation.
Adena ritual seems to have centered on what are called "circular paired
post structures", enclosures over 97 feet in diameter which are thought
to have been unroofed. But Adena houses, which were circular and
roofed, reached some 37 feet in diameter.
One of the interesting things about the Adena is the relative lack of
trade goods from within the Poverty Point trade area. I can offer no
explanation of why this might have happened: perhaps it is a difference
in Adena ritual and thus in retrieved remains, or perhaps the Adena
were intruders into the Poverty Point area. But one thing is pretty
clear: so far absolutely no evidence has been found that the Adena
shared the Thunderbird Cult.
SKELETAL DEFORMATION TECHNIQUES: THE "GIANTS"
While ordinary people were cremated, the Adena did build large burial
mounds for their leaders. These mounds were usually re-used and reached
a considerable height and size.
Sometimes the bodies found in them by the first colonists were reported
to be of extreme height and size. These claims have been met with
skepticism, but there were also stories from neighboring tribes of
their being attacked by giants, and there are other mentions of giants
as well from even later tales.
Based on recently excavated remains it is known that the Adena deformed
the skulls of infants into a round shape. What hasn't been known is
that the Adena regularly caused their leaders' heights to increase, and
that usage of these techniques extended into the times of the Southern
Ceremonial peoples. Peter Martyr investigated this in some detail, and
as his account is unknown, I include it here to end much idle
speculation on races of supermen separate from Native Americans:
"I now come to a fact which will appear incredible to your excellency.
You already know that the ruler of this region is a tyrant of gigantic
size. How does it happen that only he and his wife have attained this
extraordinary size? No one of their subjects has explained it to me,
but I have questioned the above-mentioned licenciate Ayllon [licensed
by the King of Spain to conquer and secure Florida, which was all of
south eastern North America-epg], a serious and responsible man, who
had his information from those who had shared with him the cost of the
expedition. I likewise questioned the servant Francisco [a Native
American from Chicora-epg], to whom the neighbors had spoken.
"Neither nature nor birth has given these princes the advantage of
size as a hereditary gift; they have acquired it by artifice. While
they are still in their cradles and in [the] charge of their nurses,
experts in the matter are called, who by the application of certain
herbs, soften their young bones. During a period of several days they
rub the limbs of the child with these herbs, until the bones become as
soft as wax. Then they rapidly bend them in such wise [ways] that the
infant is almost killed. Afterwards they feed the nurse on foods of a
special virtue. The child is wrapped in warm covers, the nurse gives
it her breast and revives it with her milk, thus gifted with
strengthening properties. After some days rest the lamentable task of
stretching the bones is begun anew. Such is the explanation given by
the servant Francisco Chicorana.
"The Dean of La Concepcion, whom I have mentioned, received from the
Indians [who had] stolen on the vessel that was saved explanations
differing from those furnished to Ayllon and his associates. These
explanations dealt with medicaments and other means used for increasing
"There was no torturing of bones, but a very stimulating diet composed
of crushed herbs was used. This diet was given principally at the age
of puberty, when it is nature's tendency to develop and substance is
converted into flesh and bones. Certainly it is an extraordinary fact,
but we must remember what is told about these herbs, and if their
hidden virtues could be learned I would willingly believe in their
efficacy. [Perhaps a steroid or growth hormone precursor was
"We understand that only the kings are allowed to use them, for if
anyone else dared taste them, or obtain the recipe of this diet, he
would be guilty of treason, for he would appear to equal the king. It
is considered, after a fashion, that the king should not be the size of
everyone else, for he should look down upon and dominate those who
approach him. Such is the story told to me, and I repeat it for what
it is worth. Your excellency may believe it or not."
THE "HOPEWELL" HOPEWELL APPEAR
At about the time that the first German invaders appear in Europe, or
perhaps a little earlier at the time of the Celtic emigrations, the
"Hopewell" Hopewell people make their appearance in the Ohio Valley.
These people are ethnically distinct from the Adena, and are narrow
skulled and of average height. One key to their point of origin is
that trade with the Upper Peninsula of Michigan played a large role in
If there are two defining characteristics of the "Hopewell" Hopewell,
it is their construction of meeting enclosures, used for trade, and of
circular observatories. These two structures were often built in
nearby pairs, and as these usually occur on natural trade paths, the
best explanation for them is that two tribal groups controlling
adjacent areas would meet together at them.
THE "HOPEWELL HOPEWELL" TRADE NETWORK
Both these structures and their trade network have given the "Hopewell
Hopewell" a certain mystique, and the term "Hopewell" has been adopted
by other archaeologists to describe their societies, even where there
is no clear ethnic or cultural link. Thus you have archaeologists
talking about the "New York Hopewell" in New York, the "Goodhall
Hopewell" in Michigan, the "Trempeleau Hopewell" in Wisconsin, the
"Havana Hopewell" in Illinois, the "Kansas City Hopewell" in Kansas,
the "Crab Orchard Hopewell" at the Ohio-Mississippi river junction, the
"Cooper Hopewell" in Arkansas, the "Miller Hopewell" along the
Mississippi in Mississippi, the "Markswille Hopewell" in Louisiana, and
the "Porter Hopewell" in coastal Mississippi. That there is no
"Alabama Hopewell" is more reflective of the lack of funds available to
Alabama archaeologists than anything else; and indeed, with the
exception of Moundville, the state of Alabama and its river plains are
pretty much a blank slate.
From the remains that were first visible at the time of European
contact, clearly the junction of the Ohio River with the Mississippi
was a major "Hopewell Hopewell" trading junction. But as these remains
were destroyed many years ago, modern day archaeologists act as if
these remains never existed there. "Hopewell Hopewell" remains are
also well attested in Kentucky, but little is made of them as well.
Amazingly enough, there are no "Hopewells" in Tennessee. Instead the
archaeologists there have been able to insist on 3 distinct cultures
along the Tennessee: the Hamilton, the Copena (from COpper and galENA),
and Harmon Creek, going from east to west. The Hamilton culture bears
a striking resemblance to the Adena, while from "Hopewell Hopewell"
tombs it is clear that they were able to gain access to the mica and
copper from North Carolina, which must have come through the Copena
area. Further down the Tennessee River were the Harmon Creek peoples,
who had two important characteristics: one, the built ceremonial
centers on hilltops, and two, they used stone for construction.
THE BRENHAM KANSAS METEORITE IMPACT AND THE "HOPEWELL HOPEWELL"
At about the time of the "Hopewell Hopewell" migration into the Ohio
valley a fairly massive pallasite fell in Kansas. The crater it left
measured some 40 by 60 feet, after some 2,000 years of weathering and
80 years of plowing; by way of comparison, the main Sikote Alin
measured 85 feet across, and its explosion of somewhere near 8 kilotons
at 5 kilometers altitude was visible and audible for some 300 to 400
Fragments of worked Brenham pallasite have been found in Hopewell
tombs: in the Hopewell Mounds group, with a radio-carbon date of around
47 BCE; in the Turner Mounds group; and in the Liberty Mounds Group.
There was lot of this meteorite, and trade in it continued for some 900
years: goods made from it were also recovered from the Fort Ancient
site. [Here I want to thank Bernd Pauli of the meteorite list for all
of the valuable information which he has so generously provided to
everyone over the years, and in particular for this key information on
the Brenham and Sikote Alin impacts. -epg]
A MYTH OF THE ADENA?
William Beauchamp, in his edition of David Cusick's "Ancient History of
the Six Nations", preserved the following myth: "It appears in the
traditions of the Shawnees [who lived on the Savanah River in Georgia
and in central Ohio at European contact times -epg] that the Stonish
Giants descended from a certain family that journeyed on the east side
of the Mississippi River, went towards the northwest after they were
separated, on account of viperstroke.
THE "HOPEWELL HOPEWELL" THUNDERBIRD CULT
It can be inferred that a "thunderbird" ceremonial complex was pretty
far along in its development among the "Hopewell Hopewell". Among the
"Hopewell Hopewell" grave goods of particular note are the mica "bird
claws", obviously intended to be worn by chiefs. A second indicator of
a fairly advanced "thunderbird" cult is the appearance of copper noses
in graves, and this is probably related to the latter thunderbird
priest-kings intentional conversion of their noses into beaks through
removal of the sides and septum. Also found in these tombs are conch
shells from Florida, which were later used by Southern Ceremonial
Thunderbird Priest-Kings, and it can reasonably be inferred that these
were used for drinking of some kind of intoxicant.
A second class of officials also show up in these tombs, and their sign
of office is a deer antler head-dress. Without citing anything
precisely, my overall opinion from surveying later myths is that these
individuals were likely to have been shamans/doctors. True pipes also
make an appearance, which the archaeologists always assert without
analysis were only used to smoke tobacco.
THE ADENA DISPERSION, THE NORTHERN TRIBES, AND THE FIRST APPEARANCES OF
Besides the appearance of Hamilton culture in eastern Tennessee, a
"Middle Adena" culture also makes its appearance in the northern
Appalachians, in the mountains of New England. That the Adena
attacked the northern lake tribes is clear from the several northern
myths of attacks by giants, myths which were preserved by David Cusick.
In the interest of brevity these tales are not given here but are
easily available online at http://www.canadiana.org.
[It should also be noted that memories of several attacks by great
serpents, in other words impact events, are preserved by Cusick, but
sorting out the time and locations of these events is well beyond the
scope of the work presently at hand, and would require considerable
resources not immediately at my disposal. - epg]
The tales relate that these tribes repulsed the invaders, and it is not
surprising that non-Hopewell burials accompanied by flints from
Onondaga and Deepkill in New York have been found in burials in
TROYVILLE CULTURE AND THE INTRODUCTION OF CORN
About 400 AD "Hopewell Hopewell" begins a decline, and this undoubtedly
reflects a new interest of the Hopewell Hopewell's trading partners:
maize had arrived in North America.
With the reading of the Mayan glyphs, a new effort has begun to try to
ascribe nearly all Native American cultural developments to diffusion
from Central America. One big problem proponents of this theory have is
the nearly complete lack of trade goods from Central America in later
There was contact between the peoples of North America and those of
Central America, and it started ca. 400 AD and ran up the Atchafalaya
River, which was the West Branch of the Mississippi River at that time.
The culture that resulted from this contact is known as Troyville. Its
key identifying marker is the appearance with absolutely no antecedents
of well made pottery, pottery which is shell tempered, fired at high
temperature, and features red and black markings on a fine white body.
Along with this pottery, which was produced using techniques identical
to those used in Central America, comes maize. I don't know whether it
was that the variety of maize used was particularly weak, or whether
cultivation techniques had not been perfected yet, but for the next
millennium or so Native Americans could only cultivate this maize in
the wettest river bottom lands. In this regard it is important to note
that there were no honeybees in North America before European contact,
and this must have had a great effect on pollination rates.
The final item that was introduced was the bow and arrow. Despite what
you might have seen on tv, there were no bows and arrows in North
America before 400 AD.
COLES CREEK CULTURE
All three of these technologies were quickly adopted by other peoples
in the area. As they had already been cultivating squash, pumpkin, and
seed bearing plants, it is not surprising that they were able to
quickly adopt maize.
The peoples on the nearby Mississippi River began to experiment with
shell tempering and higher firing temperatures, and at last perfected a
fine black pottery, and would continue using this production method for
These peoples also began to use the bow and arrow for hunting, as it is
more accurate than the atlatl and has better range than the blowgun.
LACK OF DATA
I need to take a few moments here to describe the particularly tragic
loss of a site. In 1934 a number of archaeological sites along the
Tennessee Valley were going to be inundated by dams built under newly
elected President Franklin Roosevelt's Tennessee Valley Authority, who
was doing this to provide the area with electricity and as a way of
employing people. In response to a letter writing campaign by the
archaeologists, Roosevelt put in place a rescue archaeology effort.
In 1936, as the depression wore on, Roosevelt, sensing a good thing,
decided to develop key archaeological sites. One of these sites is
Ocmulgee in Macon, another is Moundville in Alabama, and both are
beautiful. The third site Roosevelt wanted to develop was going to be
Poverty Point and the nearby Coles Creek complex, but upon learning of
Roosevelt's plan the farmer who owned the land on which the Coles Creek
site was situated hired a bulldozer and had the Coles Creek complex
leveled flat. Aside from the loss of key archaeological information,
this resulted in the loss of employment for thousands of local
residents for generations, and condemned the area to continuing poverty.
On the other hand, the farmer did keep his land.
THE AD 546 COLLAPSE OF THE "HOPEWELL" CULTURES
If there is one thing that is an identifying mark of "Hopewell"
cultures, it is the use of nuts, and for most of the "Hopewell" region
that nut was the pecan. Their use was so general that I have considered
taking some pecans and dropping them in the food processor to get a
flour, and using this flour to make a gruel with water and using that
paste to make a flat bread. It seems to me that both might be quite
When the 536 AD climate collapse came it wiped these nut groves out
nearly entirely, to the point of freezing to death both the pecan and
fruit trees. Most "Hopewell" societies came to an abrupt end. In
contrast, Troyville and Coles Creek cultures, with their maize base,
seem to have passed through the catastrophe with not too much effect.
It may simply be that they were far enough south so that their nut tree
groves and fruit tree groves did not freeze to death.
THE AD 700 IMPACT EVENT, THE GREAT RED RIVER RAFT AND THE END OF
Bob Kobres, among others, has brought up before the possibility that
the Great Raft on the Red River was created by a Tunguska class impact
event. What was the Great Raft? It was a massive blockage of downed
trees along the Red River which stretched some 130 miles from Loggy
Bottom near Nachitoches to Hurricane Bluff some 50 miles upriver from
The sudden destruction of trees in this area also had consequences
downstream. The Red River ran into the Mississippi River very near
where the Mississippi met what was then its West Branch. Dead trees
floated downstream to this junction and dammed that intake, turning the
West Branch of the Mississippi in today's Achafalaya River. In the
early 1800's this dam was some 30 miles long.
When did this event occur? Judging by simultaneous population
movements, there is no doubt that it must have been around 750 AD.
Troyville culture simply came to an end. While it looks like a few
survivors staggered out of the zone and settled at the Caddo Mounds
site, events in Arkansas are more interesting. Here, at Toltec Mounds,
near Little Rock, survivors of the event built what can only be
described as a Central American complex constructed of earth. The
complex was the only one of its kind that I saw on my survey, where a
main temple fronts a plaza which is framed on both sides by long
platforms, all set out to astronomical alignments. It's a gem.
IMPACT EVENT OR HURRICANE?
Wile I can't prove that the Great Raft was caused by an impact, I am at
a loss to come with any other force of nature capable of creating it.
Was this destruction caused by an impact event? I don't know. The red
and black on white Troyville pottery also shows up in coastal debris
coastal around Port Arthur, Texas. This debris undoubtedly comes from
a "Kisselpoo" trading center, whose destruction by hurricane the local
Atakapi people remembered in legend. Was this hurricane the cause the
Great Raft? Or was it an impact event?
The only way to make an absolute determination is to try and find some
dry land near the epicenter of the Great Raft and look for spherules
from an atmospheric blast, or to try and find the remains of flash
burned trees there. Fortunately, there is a good chance this work will
be done, as there are no less than three federal agencies whose
responsibilities require them to determine the weather history of the
area. First among them is the Army Corps of Engineers, which is
responsible for controlling flooding in the area. Second and third are
the national weather service - the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Agency (NOAA), and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), who
are responsible for hurricane evacuation. Finally, a fourth Federal
agency, the National Geoogical Survey, should be required to detail the
remains of impact events, as this would seem to fall under their
- to be continued
Copyright 2000, Ed Grondine
EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED:
SEARCHING FOR HISTORICAL IMPACTS IN NORTH AMERICA AND A SURVEY OF
SOUTHERN AND EASTERN NATIVE AMERICAN SITES
By E.P. Grondine <email@example.com>
FROM THE 536 AD IMPACTS TO THE SOUTHERN CEREMONIAL CULT
NORTHERN TRIBES' MEMORIES OF 536 AD
Adapted to modern usage from Cusick's "Ancient History of the Six
"About this time the northern nations formed a confederacy and seated a
great council fire on the St. Lawrence River. The northern nations
possessed the banks of the great lakes; in the countries in the north
(there) were plenty of beavers, but the hunters were often opposed by
the BIG SNAKES. The people (who lived) on the south side of the Big
Lakes made bread of roots and obtained a kind of potatoes and beans
found on the rich soil.
"Perhaps about two thousand two hundred years before Columbus
discovered the Americas... [- Cusick always fails in his attempts to
convert into the European calendar from the times given in the stories,
perhaps in a regular manner. - epg]
...The northern nations appointed a prince, who immediately repaired to
the south and visited the great Emperor who resided at the Golden City,
a capital of the vast empire. After a time the Emperor built many forts
throughout his dominions and almost penetrated to Lake Erie; this
produced excitement, as the people of felt that they would soon be
deprived of the Great Lakes, (and) they determined to defend their
country against any infringement of foreign people.
"Long bloody wars ensued which perhaps lasted about one hundred years;
the people of the north were too skillful in the use of bows and arrows
and could endure hardships which proved fatal to a foreign people; at
last the northern nations gained the conquest and all the towns and
forts (of the Empire) were totally destroyed and (they) left them in
the heap of ruins.
AN IMPACT ON THE SAINT LAWRENCE RIVER
"About this time a great horned serpent appeared on Lake Ontario. The
serpent produced diseases and many of the people died, but by the aid
of thunder bolts the monster was compelled to retire. A blazing star
fell into a fort situated on the St. Lawrence and destroyed the people;
(and) this event was considered as a warning of their destruction.
After a time a war broke out among the northern nations, (a war) which
continued until they had utterly destroyed each other, (and) the island
[the earth-the area] (fell) again in(to the) possession of fierce
William Beauchamp, in his commentary to Cusick's work, mentions 2
northern mound complexes, one of which was located on the South Branch
of the Sandy Creek near the St. Lawrence, one of the most northern
locations I have heard of for such works. He also cites a Mrs. E.A.
Smith as having collected myths from the northern tribes concerning
thunders and snakes.
"EARLY" FORT ANCIENT
Under attack by their formerly peaceful allies to the north, the
Hopewell retreated to areas near easily defended hill tops, upon which
they constructed stone fortifications. This culture is known as "Early
Fort Ancient", and archaeologists regularly confuse these people with
later peoples who re-used the same fortifications. The differences are
so immense that they can not all be catalogued here; suffice it to say
that the "Early" Fort Ancient Culture was nut-tree based, used
organically tempered "pottery", and shared cultural traits with the
"Hopewell Hopewell", while the "Middle" Fort Ancient Culture was corn
based, used shell tempered pottery, and shared cultural traits with the
Southern Ceremonial Cult peoples.
"EARLY" FORT ANCIENT ALONG THE TENNESSEE RIVER
While the retreat to hill forts is popularly thought only to have
extended to the Ohio River, in point of fact there was a similar
retreat to hill forts all through Kentucky, and even further south
along the Tennessee River, as can be seen by a quick look at the site
list. Indeed, even as late as European contact times the southern
tribes would sometimes recognize Iroquois authority down to the north
bank of the Tennessee River.
FORT HILL, OHIO
I want to take a few moments here to recount my visit to Fort Hill,
Ohio, a truly magnificent remain. It is situated atop a 400 foot high
hill - think in terms of as high as the Washington Monument - and
covers some 48 acres in area. The 19th century drawings of this site do
not do it justice, as some 3 levels of terracing exist inside of the
fort's walls - think in terms of a Native American Troy.
Just as the sites of Native American remains were turned to other
public entertainment functions in the early 20th century, Fort Hill is
now being turned to the 21st century public function of "nature
reserve". Large trees block entirely the view from the fort over the
surrounding countryside, and the large trees which grow immediately on
top of the hill are regularly hit by lightening and then die, carrying
over the hill side parts of the Fort's stone walls, and thoroughly
disrupting the levels inside of it.
Perhaps a walk through these woods while carelessly disposing of the
still lit butts of un-filtered cigarettes may be the answer here; I
packed out all my cigarette butts, but I understand that Ohio has a
fairly well organized archaeological society.
THE GREAT SERPENT MOUND
This effigy was constructed is in the shape of a snake, measuring some
1,348 feet in length with a height of 6 feet and width of 20 feet.
Based on excavations of adjacent Adena burial mounds, it has been
asserted nearly a century that the Great Serpent Mound in Ohio was
built by Adena peoples. But recent excavations and radio carbon dating
have shown that the structure itself actually was built by a late
"Early" Fort Ancient people sometime between 1025 and 1125 AD. Two
similar serpents, but these constructed at ground level, have also been
found between Dayton and Cincinnati.
The mound itself is situated on the central uplift of a
"crypto-explosive" structure, and debate continues as to how this
structure was formed and when, whether by an impact event or by a
natural gas explosion. In either case the event appears to have been
very ancient, well before the Adena arrived in the area, and certainly
well before the "Early" Fort Ancient peoples.
I think that the most likely explanation for the construction of the
Serpent at this location appears to be that as it is an elevation well
above the surrounding area, it was and is the place most likely to be
hit by lightening. I think that just as many ancient middle eastern
peoples did, the "Hopewell Hopewell" Thunderbird Priest-Kings did not
differentiate in their world view between lightening, bolides, and
impactors. There is no doubt in my mind that the effigy was built in
response to the appearance of Halley's Comet in 1066 AD. The serpent's
head is an obloid framed by two arrows, identical in every way with the
Horn of the Serpent emblem which the Southern Ceremonial Cult
Priest-Kings wore on their pectorals.
THE SPREAD OF COLES CREEK CULTURE
Following the Troyville Event, ca. 750 AD, the Coles Creek peoples and
the peoples on the Mississippi were the sole owners of three
technological advantages: maize, the bow and arrow, and pottery which
could be used for cooking and food storage. They would slowly move up
the Mississippi and establish control.
There is an easy explanation as to why there are no Central American
trade goods in North America: the local Native Americans did not allow
it. After the closure of the Red River, both the Caddo and Toltec
groups did not trade to the south, but both traded with the east, the
Caddo on the land route from Nagadoches to Indian Mounds to
Nachitotches to Natchez, and the Toltec on the line to Menphis.
A DETAILED ACCOUNT OF THE SOUTHERN CEREMONIAL PEOPLES, AND PARTS OF IT
YOU CAN SKIP
We have actually had available for centuries a detailed description of
contact period Southern Ceremonial peoples, which was assembled at the
first contact with them by Peter Martyr. Martyr assembled this account
from materials and interviews provided to him both by the participants
as well as by a Native American captive. Due to an error by Creek
enthusiast John Swanton in describing the account as being one of the
Creek, it has been ignored by nearly all modern scholars. Due to its
importance, I am going to recount parts Martyr's work here in full,
starting with foodstuffs and moving on to organization and astronomical
rituals. Those so inclined may skip ahead to the parts of interest to
them if they like. Other parts of the account are not furnished here,
but I can assure you they are will be of great interest to those in the
"In all these regions they visited the Spaniards noticed herds of deer
similar to our herds of cattle. These deer bring forth and nourish
their young in the houses of the natives. During the daytime they
wander freely through the woods in search of their food, and in the
evening they come back to their little ones, who have been cared for,
allowing themselves to be shut up in the courtyards, and even milked,
(after) they have suckled their fawns. The only milk the natives know
of is that of does, from which they make cheese."
"They also keep a great variety of chickens, ducks, geese, and other
MAIZE AND CEREAL
"They eat maize bread, similar to that of the islanders [the base of
Spanish operations at this time - epg]; but they do not know the yucca
root, from which cassabi, the food of the nobles is made. The maize
grains are very much like our Genoese millet, and in size are as large
as our peas.
"The natives cultivate another cereal called "xanthi"; this is believed
to be millet but it is not certain, for very few Castillians know
millet, as it is grown nowhere in Castille."
"This country produces potatoes, but of small varieties."
TREES, ALCOHOL, AND VEGETABLES
"There are in this country virgin forest of oak, pine, cypress, nut,
and almond trees, amongst the branches of which grow riot wild (grape)
vines, whose white and black grapes are not used for wine making, for
the people manufacture their drinks from other fruits.There are
like-wise fig trees and other kinds of spice plants. The trees are
improved by grafting, just as with us, though without cultivation they
would continue (to grow) in a wild state.
"The natives cultivate gardens in which grows an abundance of
vegetables, and they take an interest in growing their orchards: they
even have trees in their gardens. One of their trees is called
"corito", the fruit of which resembles a small melon is size and
flavor. Another called "guacomine" bears a fruit a little larger than a
quince, of a delicate and remarkable odor, and which is very wholesome.
They plant and cultivate many trees and plants, of which I shall not
speak further, lest by telling everything at one breath I become
TRADE IN FOOD STUFFS
The failure of American archaeologists to account for trade in organics
extends far beyond the Poverty Point excavators and the period they are
studying, and it is commonly assumed by North American anthropologists
excavating later sites that the pots that they find arrived at their
sites empty, as though the ancient Native Americans were pot collectors
struck by the beauty of the pieces they saw.
The extraction of oil from nuts and its use as a very nutritious
foodstuff is well attested in European contact accounts, and the trade
in it must have started as soon as suitable pots were available. While
the Native Americans lacked honey bees, they did have syrup from the
sap of maple trees to use as a sweetener.
Martyr's informants seem to be describing alcohol, and it is known that
the peoples in the southeast brewed persimmon wine in contact times.
The use of fermented beverages by the Maya and Aztec is well
documented, though the exact date of their discovery of fermentation is
unknown. I have seen it mentioned that the Aztec had 40 or so
alcoholic beverages, and that the knowledge of fermentation did not
spread seems unlikely. All of these would also have been traded, but
without analysis of organic oils it can not be said when.
IN THE LANDS OF THE THUNDERBIRD PRIEST-KINGS' NATIONS: THE GREAT SUNS
There are several identifying characteristics of the Southern
Ceremonial Culture. The first of these is their Thunderbird
Priest-Kings. From images recovered through excavation, it is clear
that these priest-kings wore large bird feathered cloaks shaped like
wings. They had large pouches to contain their requisites of office
hanging from their waists, wore "claws" on their feet, and either had
their noses deformed into beaks through the removal of their sides and
septums, or wore bird beak masks. Their feet are always shown not
touching the ground, and they are often shown with a hatchet and
severed human head in their hands.
These priest-kings were known as "Great Suns", and how these societies
worked is known in some detail thanks both to Martyr and to French
records of the Natchez, one of the few groups which survived through
later Native American migrations and initial European contact. The
French attest that the Thunderbird Priest Kings feet never touched the
ground, and they described the liters on which these Thunderbird Kings
were carried. So did Peter Martyr's informants:
"Leaving the coast of Chicorana on the one hand [the left], the
Spaniards landed in another country called "Duharhe"... They are
governed by a king of gigantic size, called Datha, whose wife is as
large as himself; they have five children. In place of horses the king
is carried on the shoulders of strong young men, who run with him to
the different places he wishes to visit."
From the French we learn that these societies were divided into the
Great Sun, his immediate relatives the "Suns", the "Nobles", the
"Honored Men", and the "Stinkards". The means of preventing inbreeding
and ensuring representation is quite interesting, as rank was passed
through the mother, and all of the upper classes, including the "Great
Sun" himself, were required to marry "Stinkards". While men "ruled",
women elected the "Great Sun" himself.
Possibly men from either the "Nobles" or "Honored Men" formed the
judges who Martyr wrote about: "Justice is administered by magistrates,
criminals and the guilty being severely punished, especially thieves."
Another identifying characteristic of these societies was that they
operated in a federated manner, and were thus able to control large
areas of land. Sometimes the federation centers were built at the river
ends of trading paths; other times they were built at the headwaters of
the river systems. Some of these federation centers, like Moundsville,
had one very large mound surrounded by other large mounds, one for each
of the cities in the federation. Others, like Emerald Mound at Natchez
and Ocmulgee Mound at Macon, were large leveled mounds, on which
subordinate tribes' houses sat before one large mound, with other mounds
present nearby for other uses.
As Peter Martyr recounted: "Another country near Duhare is Xapida.
Pearls are found there, also a kind of stone resembling pearls [mica?]
which is much prized by the Indians...The Spaniards speak of still
other regions - Hitha, Xamunambe, and Tihe - all of which are believed
to be governed by the same king." [Datha of Duharhe - epg]
And in another passage:
"Their kings are of gigantic size, as we have already mentioned. All
the provinces we have named pay them [their kings] tributes, and these
tributes are paid in kind: for they are free from the pest of money,
and trade is carried on by exchanging goods."
My impression, based on the differing body types, house types, and
pottery types, is that this entire cultural complex spread more by
diffusion than by conquest. It would appear that the culture was
inclusive enough to quickly absorb other existing cultural complexes.
These differing tribes appear to have been united by a common trade
language, and I have been told that several people are working on
evidence of a "Mobilian Trade Language".
DEATH OF A GREAT SUN, A THUNDERBIRD PRIEST-KING
As the Spanish were carrying European diseases, it is not surprising
that we have received an account via Martyr of the death and burial of
a thunderbird priest-king. Martyr himself makes the astronomical
"Another of their frauds is as follows: When the chief is at death's
door and about to give up his soul, they send away all witnesses, and
then surrounding his bed they perform some secret jugglery which makes
him appear to vomit sparks and ashes. It looks like sparks jumping from
a bright fire, or those sulphured papers which people [Europeans]
throw in the air to amuse themselves [firecrackers]. These sparks,
rushing through the air and quickly disappearing, look like those
shooting stars which people [Europeans] call leaping wild goats. The
moment the dying man expires, a cloud of those sparks shoots up 3
cubits high with a noise, and (then) quickly vanishes. They hail this
flame as the dead man's [the dead chief's] soul, bidding it a last
farewell, and accompanying its flight with their wailings, tears, and
funereal cries, absolutely convinced that it has taken its flight to
heaven. Lamenting and weeping they escort the body to the tomb."
INTERNMENT AND COSMOLOGY
The thunderbird priest-kings body was then stripped of flesh, whether
by internment, as Martyr thought, or by exposure is not clear.
"...after exhuming[?] a long buried skeleton, they erect a black tent
out in the country, leaving one end open so that the sky is visible;
upon a blanket placed in the center of the tent they then spread out
the bones. Only women surround the tent, all of them weeping, and each
of them offer(ing) such gifts as they can afford.
"The following day[?] the bones are carried to the tomb and are
henceforth considered sacred. As soon as they are buried, or everything
is ready for the burial, the chief priest addresses the surrounding
people from the summit of a MOUND, upon which he fulfills the functions
of orator. Ordinarily he pronounces an eulogy on the deceased, or [and?]
on the immortality of the soul, or [and?] the future of life.
"He says that souls originally came from icy regions of the north,
where perpetual snow prevails. They therefore expiate their sins under
the master of that region, who is called Mateczunga; but they return to
the southern regions, where another great sovereign, Quexuga, governs.
"Quezuga is lame, and is of sweet and generous disposition. He
surrounds the newly arrived souls with numberless attentions, and with
him they enjoy a thousand delights; young girls sing and dance, parents
are reunited to children, and everything one formerly loved is enjoyed.
The old grow young (there) and everybody is of the same age, occupied
only in giving himself up to joy and pleasure."
Martyr was lost by the next part, thrown off by the concept of
asteroids as horned snakes and space as a cold dark lake:"...These
native also believe that we live under the vault of heaven; they do not
suspect the existence of the antipodes. They think the sea has its
gods, and believe quite as many foolish things about them as Greece,
the friend of lies, talked about (the) Nereids and other marine gods -
Glaucus, Phoreus, and the rest of them.
"When the priest has finished his speech he inhales the smoke of
certain herbs, puffing it in and out, pretending to thus purge and
absolve the people from their sins. After this ceremony the natives
return home, convinced that the interventions of this imposter not only
soothe the spirits, but contribute to the health of bodies."
As we have just seen, the thunderbird priest-king's death was overseen
by "priests". Another commonly found image in Southern Ceremonial
contexts is of dancing men in deer costumes, and I suspect that these
are shaman-priests, as deer are often associated with herbs and plants
in myths, and the use of plants for medical purposes and for ritual
hallucination are related. Martyr attests to these shaman/physicians:
"...This is the only medicament they use, and they never consult
doctors, except experienced old women, or priests acquainted with the
secret virtues of herbs."
THE "WITNESSES": SOUTHERN CEREMONIAL BARDS
As the funeral orator recited the thunderbird priest-kings achievements
in his eulogy, it seems likely that he may have been a bard, charged
with preserving the tribes lore. It may be possible that these as well
as the shaman/physicians and astronomers were all included by the
Natchez among the group they called "Honorable Men", but again this
term may have simply referred to warriors. via Martyr:
"None of them have any writing, but they preserve traditions of great
antiquity in rhymes and chants..."
"In the last named [the Tihe region of Duharhe] the inhabitants
wear a distinctive priestly costume, and they are regarded as priests
and venerated as such by their neighbors. They cut their hair, leaving
only two locks growing on their temples, which are bound under their
chin. When the natives make war against their neighbors, according to
the regrettable custom of mankind, these priests are invited by both
sides to be present, not as actors [participants], but as witnesses of
"When the battle is about to open, they circulate among the warriors
who are seated or lying on the ground, and sprinkle them with the juice
of certain herbs they have chewed with their teeth, just as our priests
at the beginning of the Mass sprinkle the worshippers with a branch
dipped in holy water.
"When this ceremony is finished, the opposing sides fall upon one
another. While the battle rages the priests are left in charge of the
camp; when it is finished they look after the wounded, making no
distinction between friends and enemies; and (then they) busy
themselves in burying the dead. The inhabitants of this country do not
eat human flesh - prisoners of war are enslaved by the victors."
Clearly this was ritual warfare, and it left these people un-prepared
when true enemies appeared later.
THE HARVEST FESTIVAL AND THE PRINCIPLE GODS
Another item uniformly found at Southern Ceremonial sites is two small
statues about three feet high, one female and one male, sometimes made
of marble. From Yuchi and Natchez myth the female statue can be
absolutely identified as representing our sun, but as to the identity
of the male it is beyond me to make any definitive statement, but I
suspect that it is the "Creator", or manito.
Continuing with Martyr - "The natives have no temples, but use the
dwellings of their sovereigns as such. As proof of this we have said
that a gigantic sovereign called Dacha ruled in the province of Duhare:
[His] palace was built of stone, while all the other houses were built
of lumber covered with thatch or grasses. In the courtyard of this
palace the Spaniards found two idols as large as a three-year old
child, one male and one female. These idols are both called Inamahari,
and had their residence in the palace.
"Twice each year they are exhibited. The first time (is) at the sowing
season, when they are invoked to obtain the successful results for
their labors. We will later speak of the harvest, (when) thanksgivings
are offered to them if the crops are good; in the contrary case they
are implored to show themselves more favorable the following year."
[Skipping forward here, Martyr seems to be referring to the ceremony
held at the henge, of which more later - epg]
"The idols are carried in procession amidst pomp, accompanied by the
entire people. It will not be useless to describe this ceremony. On
the eve of the festival the king has his bed made in the room where the
idols stand", [Which is separate from his normal sleeping quarters,
which were located in another room in the structure or structures built
on top of the mound - epg], "and sleeps in their presence.
"At daybreak the people assemble, and the king himself carries these
idols, hugging them to his breast, to the top of his palace, where he
exhibits them to the people. He and they are saluted with respect and
fear by the people, who fall upon their knees, or throw themselves to
the ground, with loud shouts.
"The king then descends [the palace and/or the mound?] and hangs the
idols, draped in artistically worked cotton stuffs, upon the breasts of
two venerable men of authority. They are, moreover, adorned with
feather mantles of various colors [Who - the priest-king, the men of
authority, the idols, or all of them? - epg], and are thus escorted
with hymns and songs into the country, while girls and young men dance
and leap... The men escort the idols during the day, while during the
night the women watch over them, lavishing upon them demonstrations of
joy and respect.
"The next day they were carried back to the palace with the same
ceremonies with which they were taken out.
"If the sacrifice is accomplished with devotion and in conformity with
the ritual, the Indians believe they will be(come) rich in crops,
bodily health, peace, or if they are at war, victory, from these idols.
Thick cakes, similar to those the ancients made from flour, are offered
to them. The natives are convinced that their prayers for harvests will
be heard, especially if the cakes are mixed with tears."
ASTRONOMERS AND HENGES
Another image commonly found at Southern Ceremonial sites is that of
dancers dressed in snake costumes. I have little doubt that the people
shown in these images were their "astronomers". It is also well
established that the Southern Ceremonial Cult Priest-Kings harnessed
lightening in their rites: the post holes from trees used as lightening
rods have been located on the tops of their temple mounds, and as I
mentioned earlier there was no differentiation between lightening and
bolides or impacts.
As Martyr reports that "Their year is divided into 12 moons.", there
can be little doubt that their astronomy was based on lunar cycles.
Martyr also provides us with a description of what appears to be a
festival at a henge, which is probably the thanksgiving harvest
festival alluded to earlier, and thus took place in the fall:
"Another feast is celebrated every year, when a roughly carved wooden
statue is carried into the country and fixed upon a high pole planted
in the ground. This first pole is surrounded by similar ones, upon
which [the] people hang gifts for the gods, each one according to his
"At NIGHTFALL the principle citizens", [Who is meant here - the lesser
Suns, who were the king's family, or the Nobles, or the Honored Men? It
can't be the Bards.- epg], "divide these offerings among themselves,
just as the priests do the cakes and other offerings given them [the
gods] by the women."
"Whoever offers the divinity the most valuable presents is the most
honored. Witnesses [the Bards-epg] are present when the gifts are
offered, who announce after the ceremony what every one has given, just
as notaries might do in Europe. Each one is thus stimulated by a
spirit of rivalry to outdo his neighbor.
"From sunrise until evening", [Here begins the second day of the feast.
- epg], "the people dance around this statue, clapping their hands. And
when NIGHTFALL has barely set in, the image and the pole on which it was
fixed are carried away and thrown into the sea, if the country is on the
coast, or into the river, if it is along a river's bank." [It must be
remembered in this context that the horned snake asteroids and comets
had a water "aspect", and that space was seen as a cold dark lake.- epg]
"Nothing more is seen of it, and each year a new statue is made."
A YUCHI HENGE TALE
The following fragment was recovered by Swanton from Tuggle's records
of a person who was among the last survivors of the Yuchi tribe, a
tribe which had ended as a separate group several hundred years
earlier, and one that was on the very eastern periphery of the Southern
Ceremonial Cult at that. I repeat the tale here, as as near as I know
it's all that we have of it. Perhaps a better version may be obtained
from Swanton or Tuggle's notes.
"The people wished to find their medicine. A great monster SERPENT
destroyed the people.
"They cut his head from his body. The next day [age - epg] the body
and head were together again.
"They again slew the monster. His head again grew to his body."
[This seems to be the growth of a comet's tail, recurring on a periodic
basis. - epg]
"Then they cut off his head and placed it on top of a tree, so that the
body could not reach it. The next morning [age] the tree was dead and
the head united to the body.
"They again severed it, and put it upon another tree. In the morning
the tree was dead, and the head and body were re-united.
"The people continued to try all the trees in the forest.
"At last they placed the head over the tar, the cedar tree, and in the
morning the head was dead. The cedar was alive, but covered with blood
which had trickled down from the head.
"Thus the Great Medicine was found."
SEARCHING FOR THE CENTER: A TRIP ALONG THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER
What follows is a description of the sites along the Mississippi from
Natchez to Cahokia, and it can be skipped if desired and the history of
the Southern Ceremonial peoples picked up again at Part 4.
The trip starts at Natchez, Mississippi. While there most certainly
were Southern Ceremonial sites further down the Mississippi river,
sites which controlled traffic along the Gulf Coast, I don't believe
that any of them survived. Natchez has two major sites available, the
first of which is the Grand Village of the Natchez, which was one of
the villages of the local tribe. The main federation complex was at
Emerald Mound just north of town, and it is magnificent. As usual, the
nature enthusiasts at the National Park Service have allowed large
trees to grow on the periphery of the site, which completely block the
view Emerald Mound commanded in Southern Ceremonial times. Natchez was
the federation capitol for many of the tribes the Natchez Trace, a
trading path which ran from Natchez to Nashville.
Natchez has riverboat casino gambling, ante-bellum mansions, and is a
major tourist center. The town fathers are building a convention
center, and I believe that that facility will definitely help to ensure
their position as a major tourist destination.
The next town up the Mississippi is Vicksburg, which is making an
effort to duplicate Natchez's success. Vicksburg has riverboat
casinos, and a civil war battlefield which includes the wreck of the
Union steam powered ironclad riverboat USS Cairo, which was sunk there
by the first successful mine. The Cairo has been raised from the river
bed and placed under one of the best pieces of architecture I have seen.
While early maps show that the Yazoo tribe, who controlled the Yazoo
River, had a major town here, on the east side of the river, there are
no developed sites. I understand that the mounds across the Mississippi
from Vicksburg at Mound, Louisiana have recently been plowed flat. I
personally enjoy staying at the very inexpensive Dixiana Motel, as it is
right across the street from the Louisiana Battery's gun position.
From the top of this mound (:-P) there is a commanding view of the
junction of the Yazoo and Mississippi, but once again the naturalists
at the National Park Service have allowed trees to grow and partially
obstruct the view.
Heading north, Poverty Point, the much earlier site, lies to
the west of the current river bed, and the early site of Marksville
lies to the south along this channel as well. But both fall outside of
the time we are at now.) The next Southern Ceremonial site on the
Mississippi is the Winterville Mounds, north of Greenville. This is
delta blues country ("Going down to Rosedale..."), and joints abound,
but the racial tension is so thick now you can feel it as though it were
fog. The Mississippi state legislature invested in Winterville Mounds
and it features a museum whose architecture is some of the best I've
seen. But they selected a contractor to run the facility, and whoever
it was did not perform, and the facility was shut down when I visited.
The guard graciously allowed me to walk the grounds, and here once again
the naturalists have struck, as trees completely block the grounds of
this magnificent complex. I also don't know if all the mound area was
purchased by the state or whether a part of it was in the adjoining
Speaking of Rosedale, I am almost certain that a major Southern
Ceremonial site has (had?) to exist in this area on the Arkansas side
of the river. It would be very interesting to look at high resolution
radar images of the National Forest there.
Memphis comes next, and the political fate of the sites here is most
interesting. Chucalissa, a small reconstructed village occupied from
ca. 1200 to 1500 AD, was once Tennessee's biggest tourist attraction,
until the opening to the public of Graceland, Elvis Presley's home.
Remains of the main federation center survive near to the National
Ornamental Metal Museum at DeSoto Park. State archaeologists tried to
begin excavation there in 1984, but were completely stopped by Native
American activist Gary Whitedeer. Since that time Chucalissa's budget
has fallen from over $500,000 to just over $50,000. I find it somewhat
ironic that "Chucalissa" means "Abandoned House" in the Choctaw
As for accommodation, there are many motels nearby on the road to
Graceland. For barbeque, I particularly recommend Kay's near to the
DeSoto Park federation site: Elvis used to hang out here in the parking
lot and flirt with the waitresses. (I also must report that while
unloading at my motel at 4 in the morning, after a 20 hour drive, I
think I saw Elvis. Sorry to say, he was driving a black Jeep Wagoneer
suburban battle wagon and weighed about 320 pounds (145.4 kilos for all
you metric folk out there.)
At the time, I had no idea a federation center could be found at the
headwaters of a river, so I missed the Pinson Mounds and Obion Mounds.
From what I've seen so far, Pinson itself appears to be for the most
part a refuge for Adena fleeing Ohio. I would be very surprised if a
major federation site did not exist near where their rivers meet the
Mississippi River at Hales Point, Tennessee.
The junction of the Ohio Rivers and Mississippi Rivers, the area which
comes next, was one of the most densely settled areas in North America
during Native American times. Much of the remains are known to be
destroyed, particularly those at Cairo and Mound City. The only way
these will ever be "visited" is through computer re-creations, and
someone needs to build VRML (Virtual Reality Markup Language)
representations of these areas.
As for physical remains, they experience is disappointing. One mound
remains on private land at Mound City; Towosaghy, while excellently
preserved and displayed, is simply a small outlying village. Nearby
Wickliffe Mounds is somewhat of a travesty. In the 1930's the height
of scientific fashion was to macabrely display skeletons where
found. In the 1950's ordinary houses were built on to cover these
displays, and as a result the site has lost all of its original
landscape. In the 1980's a large number of artifacts were stolen from
the site, whether by pot hunters or by activists is an open question.
The skeletons were later replaced by reproductions. As a whole the
experience is disappointing.
As I found out after the survey, there was a large mound in New Madrid
at one point, and if it's there now it sure is a well kept secret.
Also, a major federation center was described to the east of New
Madrid, across from Wolf Island, measuring 40 ft high, 200x200 ft at
base with 11 small mounds on the 150x150 ft top.
I think Cairo, Illinois serves as a good base when exploring the
region. Inexpensive lodgings can be found at the Relax Inn, McKay's is
a fine place to eat, and Melcher's barbeque is recommended.
Angel Mounds, a little up the Ohio from this area, was closed for
remodeling when I visited. As a result I never managed to get a good
grasp on the junction area. You might think that this was the center,
but if it was, all evidence of its being so is now either lost or
Heading upriver, we come to the American Bottoms, the site of Cahokia,
a World Heritage Site. Cahokia is magnificent, and the state of
Illinois is doing a first class job there. Cahokia was a federation
center that had at least four other federation centers within its
immediate control: one to the north controlling the Illinois River, one
to the west controlling the Missouri River, the local center
controlling the Cahokia River, and one to the south controlling the
Kaskasia River. Illinois has spent $8.7 million on the project so far,
and the site has what may be the best museum of its type in the US.
I do have to gripe that once again the "naturalists" are preventing the
removal of trees to return the site to its original appearance. This
isn't a nature area: it's a world heritage site.
The major problem is that Illinois will have to spend a whole lot more
money to secure the site, once again on the order of millions of
dollars. For example, one major mound now serves as the base for a
warehouse lorry loading dock; another serves as the base for a
semi-permanent caravan park. I am of the opinion this would be money
well spent, as these cities are some of the most depressed in the US.
At one recent point the biggest industry in East St. Louis was
exporting the antique bricks produced when its abandoned buildings were
torn down for safety reasons.
I had thought that all of the mounds in the East St. Louis complex were
destroyed long ago, but I may be in error, as I recently learned
excavations are going on there now. There are probably remains at
Kaskasia, but if so their existence is kept quiet, and the same is true
for any remains of the complexes guarding the Illinois River. The
mounds in St. Louis itself were torn down long ago, and its likely the
only way they will ever be "visited" again is though VRML.
Welcome to the center.
.. to be continued
Copyright 2000, Ed Grondine
EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED: SEARCHING FOR HISTORICAL IMPACTS IN NORTH
AMERICA AND A SURVEY OF SOUTHERN AND EASTERN NATIVE AMERICAN SITES
By E.P. Grondine <firstname.lastname@example.org>
PART 4: FROM THE BALD MOUNTAINS IMPACT TO THE END
THE 1200 AD BALD MOUNTAINS IMPACT EVENT:
THE LEGEND OF THE BALD MOUNTAINS AND THE BEGINNING OF THE CHEROKEE
It is important to remember a few items as you read through the tale.
First, it is not the only Native American tale to refer to the event.
The area to the southwest of the Bald Mountains contains Copperhill,
Tennessee, certainly a copper source for early Native American peoples.
This was a very densely settled area: the owner of a property near
Blairsville described giving to the local Boyscouts a box some 1.5 x
1.5 x 2.5 feet long filled with stone implements, including archaic
points, and this did not include buckets of stone tools he had found.
These peoples would have been under the rule of "thunderbirds", chiefs
of the Southern Ceremonial Complex, who wore feathered costumes,
"claws" on their hands and feet, and had their noses mutilated into
"beaks" through removal of their sides and septum.
This version of the tale comes from Legends and Lore, University of
Tennessee Newsletter, Knoxville, 1961 and has been hopelessly
romanticized by the compiler, David Harkness.
THE LEGEND OF THE BALD MOUNTAINS
A large and happy tribe of Indians once lived around the base of a
range of the Appalachian Mountains, along the Tennessee-North Carolina
boundary, northeast of the Great Smokies. Now known as the Bald
Mountains, they were then covered from base to summit with gigantic
trees, beneath which flourished a dense undergrowth of vines, bushes,
"One day, to the terror of the tribe, an immense bird soared above
them, overshadowing them with his outstretched wings. Finally, with
terrific cries, he settled upon the very top of the mountains, shaking
all the surrounding country as he came down. The bird sat there,
ominously but quietly, and even the boldest hunter dared not pursue his
game when it fled toward the summit of the mountains.
"One night, when the tribe was wrapped in sleep, they were suddenly
awakened by the shriekings of the bird and the quaking of the earth at
his movements. With one fell swoop he rushed down upon the valley like
a storm, crying and roaring with ferocity, and causing the trees and
rocks to shake. Men, women, and children fled in tumult and terror.
Later they discovered that the monster had borne off in his cruel
talons the beloved child of one of the chiefs.
"Every year thereafter, the feathered horror repeated his descent upon
the tribe, with hideous sounds and awful commotions, always bearing off
a young child as his prey. The terrified Indians invoked the help of
the Great Spirit in their peril.
[The Southern Ceremonial chiefs probably took a child from surrounding
subordinate tribes as hostage or sacrifice as a way of expressing their
power over them. - epg]
"Finally, a chief arose who would not endure the tyranny of the bird of
the mountains. He called together all his warriors and urged them to
join him in an all out attack on the winged creatures.
"When they finally reached the top of one of the mountains they froze
in terror, for there they beheld not merely one monstrous bird, but as
whole flock of the mammoth and savage fowls, with beaks and wings
extended, ready to rush down and exterminate the invaders. The warriors
cast their weapons away and fell upon their faces, to await the
destruction so surely impending.
[Southern Ceremonial Chiefdoms worked in a federated manner - epg]
"At this moment the heart of the chief did not fail him. He was
suddenly inspired with faith that the Great Spirit would not permit the
whole tribe to perish before these evil birds. With a loud voice and
hands raised to heaven, he earnestly besought the Great Spirit to
interpose in behalf of the helpless and afflicted tribe.
THE 1200 AD BALD MOUNTAIN IMPACT EVENT
"The Great Spirit heard, and before the birds could rush upon their
victims, there flashed forth from every quarter of the sky great
lightening which struck every bird, ripped the tress apart, and wrapped
the entire mountain heights in a devouring fire. The tops of the
mountains were burned off by the avenging fires of heaven, and the
tribe raised loud and long its song of thanksgiving for this miraculous
MATERIAL RECORD OF THE 1200 AD EVENT POPULATION MOVEMENT
The people of the Pisgah culture, which had started around 1000 AD just
to the north of the impact zone, now moved into the area of the upper
Pigeon River and upper French Broad River, with spreading to the upper
Tuckasegee River and upper Saluda River.
THE KUSHITA (CREEK) AND LENAPE (DELAWARE) MIGRATION STORIES: THE END OF
THE SOUTHERN CEREMONIAL PEOPLES
As the 1200 AD Bald Mountains event had thoroughly shown that they had
no power with the sky gods, the power of the Priest-Kings of the
Southern Ceremonial peoples was now demolished. Normally, this impact
event would have been blamed on some evil of the towns involved, the
Southern Ceremonial peoples would have re-grouped, and then annihilated
the Cherokee. But worse was to follow, as the Native American
equivalent of the Mongols now immediately appeared: in the south, the
attackers were the Kushita and their allies (Creeks); in the north, the
Lena Lenape (Delawares) and their allies.
While these peoples had detailed oral song cycles recounting their
migrations, similar to the Greek oral cycles, all we currently have
left are fragments of them. The Kushita (Creek) recited their migration
story annuals at their busk festival. The badly fragmented outline
version of the Creek tale given here was recited in 1725 by Chekilli,
head chief of the upper and lower Creeks, and survives in an obviously
corrupted and shortened form. (For another fragment of this see
Southeastern Legends, compiled by George E. Lankford, 1987, August
House, in particular tale 84.) It is adapted from what are represented
as the original translator's notes, but the paginations of these needs
to be checked.
The Chickasaw Creek also had their own migration cycle, which they also
recited at their annual busk, but all that remains of it are very
scattered fragments collected far apart.
The Lena Lenape (Delaware) recounted their migration cycle at their
annual Big House Festival. The version used here comes from a
missionary to the Delaware, John Heckewelder. As the earlier parts of
the story contained religious material, his informants did not present
this to the missionary. but parts have survived elsewhere.
The Lenape migration story also survives in another much abridged form.
Rafinesque spent 11 years of his life working on recovering a painted
pictograph version of the tale, called the Wallum Ollum, but he died
before he could complete the work. Unfortunately Rafinesques's
manuscript has never been published, along with what I am sure are
copious notes, and the only versions available have been worked over by
others less familiar with the Lenape. [In particular I need to warn Bob
Kobres here that Brinton's version is not to be trusted.]
I apologize for what little is here, but fully recovering what remains
of either of the migration tales will take a lifetime, and it will
simply have to be somebody else's life.
THE TALE OF THE ANCESTORS - THE KUSHITA (CREEK) MIGRATION STORY BEGINS:
A SEISMIC EVENT
"Towards the Sun's setting the Ground opened, which is the mouth of the
Ground. The Ground opened, and the Kashitas came out of its mouth and
settled nearby. But the Ground was angry, and ate up their children.
"They went further towards the setting of the Sun, but nevertheless our
own part of the Kashitas turned back again and came to the same place,
leaving the greater body behind, as they thought it might be best (to do
"They settled there again, but the Earth still ate up their children.
So in anger they went away towards the Sun's rising.
THE LENAPE (DELAWARE) MIGRATION BEGINS: A SEISMIC EVENT
"The Lenni Lenape (according to the traditions handed down to them by
their ancestors) resided many hundred years ago in a very distant
country, in the western part of the American continent. For some reason
which I do not find accounted for, they determined on migrating to the
eastward, and accordingly set out together in a body." - Heckewelder
The reason why Heckewelder received no account of the start of the
Lenape migration was because he was a Christian missionary, and the
Lenape migration story was part of their religion, which those who he
was talking with kept hidden from him. A fragment of it which was
recited at the Lenape Big House Ceremony survives:
"The first beginning of this Big House was the beginning long ago of
that worship by the Lenape, now called ngammin, when there was a
quaking of the Earth throughout where the Lenape lived." The
earthquakes continued, with crevices opening, and dust and smoke and
then a tar like substance coming out of the ground, which the Lenape
called the Breath of the Evil Creator.
This late fragment of the tale is given in "Native American
Spirituality of the Eastern Woodlands" edited by Elizabeth Tooker, who
refers to "A Study of the Delaware Indian Big House Ceremony" by Frank
G. Speck, which may possibly contain other parts of the migration tale.
THE KUSHITA (CREEK) CROSS A RIVER
"They came to a thick muddy river where they camped, rested, and slept
one night. [For "day" and "night" always read "age", as this was a
customary usage. -epg].
THE KUSHITA (CREEK) REACH THE RED RIVER
"The next day (age) they began to travel again, and came in one day
(age) to a red, bloody river. They lived by that river and ate its fish
for two years (ages), but it was a low marshy place and they did not
like living there."
ca. 1000 A.D. the Toltec Mounds culture came to an end, though it still
survived in the central and north parts of the Arkansas Plateau.
Continuing the tale from another fragment (Lankford's tale 84):
"At the forks of Red River (We-cha-te-hat-che Au-fus-kee), west of the
Mississippi (We-o-coof-ke, muddy water), there are two mounds of earth.
Here the Kashita, Coweta, and Chickasaws found themselves. They were
at a loss for fire. Here they were visited by Hi-you-yul-gee, four men
who came from the four corners of the world. One of these people asked
them, "Where will you have your fire?" They pointed to a place, and
it was made...
THE KUSHITA (CREEK) MOVE TO SUNSET VOLCANO, ARIZONA, WHOSE ERUPTION
BEGAN 1064 A.D.
Returning to the first fragment from the translator's notes:
"They went to the end of that bloody river and heard a thundering
noise. They went forward to hear where the noise came from, and they
first saw a red smoke, and soon after a mountain which thundered. Upon
the mountain was a singing noise, and they went up to see what it was.
And it was a great fire which burned upwards and made a singing noise.
They called that mountain the King of Mountains, and it thunders to
Ash from Sunset Volcano's eruption provided a tremendously productive
soil, and there is a magnificent Native American stone village on this
lava field which is one of my favorite Native American sites. According
to the tale, the Creek get "fire" and a knowledge of some hallucinogens
and pharmaceuticals there. The Creek also likely acquired their
culturally important ball game, which they called "the brother of war",
by playing on the ball court found at this site.
Sunset Volcano actually stopped erupting, but after the Creeks were
driven out by its final eruption.
THE MENGWE (MANNAHOAC) ATTACK THE NORTH, CA. 1175 AD
"After a very long journey, and many nights' encampments by the way,
they (the Lenape) at length arrived at the Namaesi Sipu,.."
Heckewleder spends some time trying to work with the river name, at
last coming up with River of Fish, from "namaes", fish, and "sipu",
river. But the name is simply a compound of Na+maesi, Na=town+tribal
name, similar to Na+godoches (Na+Kadodacho=Caddo)/ Na+tchitoches/
Na+tches. Namaesi Sipu is literally the "Town of the Maesi's River", or
more phonetically correct "Town of the Missi's River".
"...where they fell in with the Mengwe, who had likewise emigrated from
a distant country, and had struck upon this river somewhat higher up.
Their object was the same with that of the Delawares [Lenape]: they
were, proceeding on to the eastward until they should find a country
that pleased them."
I have no doubt that these Mengwe were the ancestors of the Mannahoac
or Monocans who Washington exterminated, as will be seen from their
later movements. The first attacks by the Mengwe on the Southern
Ceremonial peoples can be dated to around 1175 AD, and from that time
to 1275 AD the people of Cahokia, the Maesi or Missi, rebuilt their
defensive palisade some four times.
SUNSET VOLCANO'S FINAL ERUPTION CA. 1250 AD LEADS THE KUSHITA (CREEK)
"On the mountain there was a pole which was very restless and made a
noise, and no one could say how it could be quieted. They took a
motherless child and stuck it on the pole, which killed the child.
[They impaled the child on the pole. - epg] Therefore they took the
pole and carried it with them as they went to war...
"A dispute arose as to which was oldest and who should rule. They
agreed that as they were four sorts of people, they would set up four
poles and make them red with clay - which was at first yellow, but by
burning became red. And all would go to war following whichever of them
could first cover their pole from the root up to the top with the
scalps of enemies - whoever did so would be the eldest.
"They all tried to do it, but the Kushitas covered their pole to the
top first, so that it could not be seen. Therefore they were declared
by the whole nation to be the eldest. The Chickasaws covered their pole
next, and then the Alibamus next. But the Abhikas could not raise their
heap of scalps higher than a knee.
THE KUSHITA (CREEK) BEGIN THEIR ATTACK ON THE SOUTHERN CEREMONIAL
This passage is followed by one in which the Kushita (Creek) are aided
by a "red rat", an obvious translation error, in attacking the King of
the "Birds", who is armed with bow and arrows. In any case, the towns
near to the junction of the Ohio with the Mississippi at Towosaghy and
Wickliffe are both abandoned around 1250 AD.
A fragment of the Chickasaw migration tale preserved by Haywood
specifically mentions the crossing of the Mississippi River, and the
fight between their chief, supposedly named No-hoo-to-ta-pa, with a
king who calls himself the "Brother of the Sun".
The line of the Creek advance must have at first been back through
Arkansas. Nodena Ware, a sandy pottery from Arkansas with red markings
on a white background, is found at every destroyed Southern Ceremonial
site in or just before or after the time of "abandonment".
THE LENAPE MAKE CONTACT WITH ANOTHER TRIBE
"The spies which the Lenape had sent forward for the purpose of
reconnoitering, had long before their arrival discovered that the
country EAST of the Mississippi was inhabited by a very powerful
nation, who had many large towns built on the great rivers flowing
through their land. Those people (as I was told) called themselves
Talligeu or Talligewi. Colonel John Gibson, however, a gentleman who
has a thorough knowledge of the Indians, and speaks several of their
languages, is of opinion that they were not called Talligewi, but
Alligewi, and it would seem that he is right, from the traces of their
name, which still remain in the country, the Allegheny river and
mountains having indubitably been named after them. The Delawares still
call the former Alligewi Sipu, the River of the Alligewi...
"Many wonderful things are told of this famous people. They are said to
have been remarkably tall and stout, and there is a tradition that
there were giants among them, people of a much larger size than the
tallest of the Lenape. It is related that they had built to themselves
regular fortifications or intrenchments, from whence they would sally
out, but were generally repulsed..."
The important thing to remember here is that in this part Heckewelder's
informant was describing a different people than the Maesu.
THE LENAPE (DELAWARE) ATTACK THE NORTH CA. 1310 AD
Now the Lenape appeared on the scene, and combined with the Mengwe
(Mannahoac) they at last defeated the Maesi (Missi).
"When the Lenape arrived on the banks of the Mississippi (literally the
Namaesisipu, or Town of the Missi's River), they sent a message to the
Talligewi [Maesi?] to request permission to settle themselves in their
neighborhood. This was refused them, but they obtained leave to pass
through the country and seek a settlement farther to the eastward. They
accordingly began to cross the Namaesi Sipu, when the Talligewi
[Maesi?], seeing that their numbers were so very great, and in fact they
consisted of many thousands, made a furious attack on those who had
crossed, threatening them all with destruction if they dared to persist
in coming over to their side of the river.
"Fired at the treachery of these people, and the great loss of men they
had sustained, and besides, not being prepared for a conflict, the
Lenape consulted on what was to be done - whether to retreat in the
best manner they could, or [to] try their strength, and let the enemy
see [that] they were not cowards but men, and too high-minded to suffer
themselves to be driven off before they had made a trial of their
strength, and [but] were convinced that the enemy was too powerful for
them. The Mengwe, who had hitherto been satisfied with being spectators
from a distance, offered to join them on condition that, after
conquering the country, they should be entitled to share it with them.
Their proposal was accepted, and the resolution was taken by the two
nations to conquer or die.
"Having thus united their forces, the Lenape and Mengwe declared war
against the Talligewi [Maesi?], and great battles were fought, in which
many warriors fell on both sides. The enemy fortified their large towns
and erected fortifications, especially on large rivers and near lakes,
where they were successively attacked, and sometimes stormed by the
allies. An engagement took place, in which hundreds fell, who were
afterwards buried in holes or laid together in heaps and covered over
with earth. No quarter was given, so that the (Maesi), at last, finding
that their destruction was inevitable if they persisted in their
obstinacy, abandoned the country to the conquerors and fled down the
Mississippi River, from whence they never returned.
"The war which was carried on by this nation lasted many years, during
which the Lenape lost a great number of their warriors, while the
Mengwe would always hang back in the rear, leaving them to face the
enemy. In the end the conquerors divided the country between
themselves, The Mengwe made choice of the lands in the vicinity of the
great lakes and the Lenape took possession of the country to the south.
THE FORMATION OF THE IROQUOIS CONFEDERACY
In response to the appearance of invaders from the west who ate their
meat raw, the great leader Hiawatha formed the Iroquois confederacy,
which succeeded in stopping the invaders. Unlike the Southern
Ceremonial confederations, the Iroquois Confederation was not tied to a
bizarre religious structure, and actually had a civil body of laws and
used voting to arrive at consensus.
The Lenape [Delaware] and Mengwe were blocked to the north, and as the
migration took place approaching the Maunder minimum, the Allegheny
Mountains would likely have been covered with snow for a great part of
the year. Thus they remained in Ohio for a while.
"MIDDLE" FORT ANCIENT CULTURE
Based on C14 dates, the Lenape and Mengwe defeated Cahokia around 1310
AD. The survivors of their attacks from the Southern Ceremonial Cult
peoples of the Ohio Valley moved into the hill forts of the "Early"
Fort Ancient peoples. Due to their re-occupation of some sites that had
earlier been used by Adena and Hopewell refugees, some archaeologists
refer to this as the "Middle" Fort Ancient Culture", even though
culturally these people bear no relation to the "Early" Fort Ancient
Culture. The differences are so immense that they can not all be
catalogued here; suffice it to say that the "Middle" Fort Ancient
Culture is corn based, uses shell tempered pottery, and shares other
cultural traits with the Southern Ceremonial Cult peoples, while the
"Early" Fort Ancient Culture was nut-tree based, used organically
tempered "pottery", and shared cultural traits with the Ohio Hopewell.
THE CREEK REACH THE EDGE OF IMPACT ZONE: A STRATEGIC WITHDRAWAL,
AND A CONSOLIDATED DEFENSE
Following their victory against the "Bird" armed with bows and arrows,
the Creek find a "White Path", which they follow until they get to a
"smokey" river. As the "smokey river" also appears again later on, it
is clear that the tale has become corrupted. Some Chickasaw fragments
of this migration tale also remain, but sorting them out will take more
money and time than I have available for it.
The next identifiable location is Coosa, which the invaders also attack
and conquer. Following this the next absolutely identifiable location
is in the Bald Mountains.
"The next day they crossed over [the Aphoosapheesaw River] and came to
high mountain. They found some people there and hoped that they were
the people who had made the White Path. Therefore they made white
arrows and shot [them] to see if they were good people. But the people
carried their white arrows off, made them red, and shot them back again.
"Then they took up the red arrows and carried them to their chief.
Their chief told them that it was not good; if the arrows had returned
white, they would have gone and got food for their children, but as
they were red they should not go.
"However, some of them went to see what people they were and found that
they had all left their houses. They saw tracks which went into the
river, and saw that the tracks went into the river but did not get out,
for they went to the other side of the river and could find no tracks.
"There is a mountain we call Motero, which makes a sound like the
beating of a drum. Those people live there now; whenever we go to war,
this sound is heard."
This can only refer to the Bald Mountains, were seismic activity does
indeed produce a rhythmic sound, which was heard in the 1860's. (I
want to thank Ron Baalke for providing me with an article containing
THE CREEK MEET THE CHEROKEE, CREEK VERSION
"They went along that river until they came to another water fall,
where they saw great rocks and bows laid on the rocks. They believed
that the people who had made the White Path had been there.
"In all their travels they had two runners who went before the body of
the people, and when they saw a mountain, the runners went up it and
looked around and saw a town. They shot two white arrows into the town,
but the people of that town again shot red arrows back. The Kushitas
were angry with those people, and agreed to attack the town. If they
took it everyone was to have a house.
"They threw stones into the river until it was so shallow that they
could walk across it, which they did. The people there were flat
headed, and they took the town.
"When they had done so they killed everyone there but two, whose tracks
they followed and overtook a white dog [Chilluki, dog, an old Creek
name for Cherokee], which they killed.
THE CREEK MEET THE CHEROKEE, CHEROKEE VERSION
The following is adapted from the version given by Mooney, Myths of the
Cherokee, with some "magical" elements, similar to magical elements
found in the Song of Roland, removed.
"Long ago a powerful unknown tribe invaded the country from the
southeast, killing people and destroying settlements wherever they
went. No leader could stand against them, and in a little while they
had destroyed all the lower settlements and advanced into the
mountains. The warriors of the old town of Nikwasi, on the head of the
Little Tennessee River, gathered their wives and children into the
townhouse and kept scouts constantly on the lookout for the presence of
"One morning, just before daybreak,, the scouts saw the enemy
approaching, and at once gave the alarm. The Nikwasi men seized their
arms and rushed out to meet the attack. But after a long hard fight
they found themselves overpowered and began to retreat.
"Then suddenly a stranger stood among them and shouted to the chief to
call off his men and he himself would drive back the enemy... They fell
back along the trail, and as they came near the townhouse they saw a
great company of warriors...The Nunnehi poured out by the hundreds,
armed and painted for the fight...
THE CREEK SURRENDER, CHEROKEE VERSION
"The invaders soon had to retreat, going first along the ridge which
separates the French Broad from the Tuckagee, and then turning with it
to the northeast...All along the ridge they fell, until when they
reached the Tuckagee not more than half a dozen were left alive, and in
despair they sat down and cried out for mercy... Then the Nunnehi
chief told them that they had deserved their punishment for attacking a
peaceful tribe, and he spared their lives and told them to go home...
They went home toward the north...
THE CREEK SURRENDER, CREEK VERSION
"[They] pursued the two people until they came to the White Path again,
and they saw smoke from where there was a town. They believed that
they had found the people who they had traveled so long to see. it is
the place where the Apalachicola [Pallachacula] people now live...
"The Kushitas were always bloody minded, but the Apalachicola people
made them the Black Drink as a token of friendship, and told them that
their hearts were white, that they too must have white hearts, and lay
down their bodies to show that they were white as well. They strove
for the tomahawk, but the Apalichicola people by fair persuasion gained
it from them and buried it under their house.
"The Apalichicola people then told them their chief should be one with
their people, and gave them white feathers. Ever since we have lived
together, and we shall always live together, and this should be
THE SITUATION AS DE SOTO FOUND IT
These emigrations left enmities which all European colonists were
easily able to exploit, including the Spanish Conquistador de Soto. In
1540 AD de Soto found the Southern Ceremonial peoples split into three
groups. While some of the exact locations are in hot debate right now,
the Kushita, Chickasaw, Alabama, and Abikas occupied a line stretching
from east to west along the south side of the ridge of mountains which
extends from the Appalachians out into the plain. The Southern
Ceremonial peoples still held control along the river basins south of
them, and despite the invaders' claims of having "white hearts", both
the Kushita and the Chickasaw tried to secure de Soto as an ally so
that they might attack these peoples.
Another pocket of Southern Ceremonial peoples had survived along the
western Tennessee river, from the Cherokee lands on to where the
Tennessee joined with the Ohio, and even short way up along the Wabash
River from where it meets the Ohio River. These peoples had been north
of the line of the Creek emigration and south of the line of the Lenape
emigration. With the Creeks to their south, these people did not attack
the Cherokee but instead held them under tribute.
Pockets of survivors were now starting to re-group as well. A small
group had re-established itself at Kaskasia, south of Cahokia. Other
groups were re-forming along the Arkansas and on the north of the
But de Soto was not only able to kill Native Americans directly; he
brought along with his army European diseases that moved almost as fast
as his army did.
THE CHEROKEE (KITUAGI) ATTACK THE KWATANI
With the tribes to their west decimated by de Soto and disease and
thoroughly disheartened and disorganized, and facing no threat from the
south, the Cherokee began an attack on the Kwatani. This version of
this tale is extracted from that gathered from Chief John Ross by Dr.
J. B. Evans in 1866, and comes via Mooney via Dr. J. MacGowen, Indian
Secret Societies, Historical Magazine, p 139, 1896, Morrisiana, N.Y..
Its importance here lies in that its structure bears striking parallels
with "The Legend of Bald Mountains."
"The (Kwatani) were a mystical, religious body, of whom people stood in
awe, and seem to have been somewhat like the Brahmins of India... The
order was hereditary, in this respect peculiar, for among Indians
seldom, and among the Cherokee never, does power pertain to any family
as a matter of right...
"Relying on their hereditary privilege and the strange awe which they
inspired, they did not hesitate by fraud or violence to rend asunder
the tender relations of husband and wife when a beautiful woman excited
their passions...The people long brooded in silence over the
oppressions and outrages of this high cast, whom they deeply hated but
"Their extinction by massacre is nearly all that can be discovered
about them... The immediate provocation was the abduction of the wife
of a young leader (...a member of an influential family...[identified
by Haywood as the brother of the leading chief of the nation])... His
wife was remarkable for her beauty and was forcibly abducted and
violated by one of the (Kwatani) while he... was absent on the chase.
"On his return he found no difficulty in exciting in others the
resentment which he himself experienced. So many had suffered in the
same way, so many feared that they might be made to suffer, that
nothing was wanted but a leader.
"A leader appearing in the person of the young brave whom we have
named, the people rose under his direction and killed every (Kwatani)
young and old. ...since time which no hereditary privileges have been
tolerated among the Cherokee.
THE CREEK COMPLETE THEIR CONQUEST
After de Soto's "visit" the Creek peoples used the opportunity
presented by the epidemics of European disease to sweep south and
complete their conquest of most of the southeast. In a short while
every Southern Ceremonial peoples that de Soto "visited" would be
extinct, with the exception of those few he did not "visit": the Yazoo
and Natchez on the southern Mississippi, and a few surviving Yuchi,
Shawnee, and Yamasee along the Atlantic coast.
THE MENGWE [MANNAHOAC] AND LENAPE FINALLY MOVE EAST, ... TO FORT ASHBY
"For a long period of time-some say many hundred years-the two nations
[Lenape and Mengwe] resided peacefully in this country and increased
very fast. Some of their most enterprising huntsmen and warriors
crossed the great swamps, and falling on streams running to the
eastward, followed them down to the great Bay River (Susquehannah), and
thence into the bay itself, which we call Chesapeak.
Following reconnaisance, "At last they [the Lenape and Mengwe] settled
on the four great rivers (which we call Delaware, Hudson, Susquehanna,
CONCLUSIONS - EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED
I spent the last night of the survey visiting the site of the Knoxville
World's Fair, a ceremonial site sacred to my people, the scientists.
As I wandered the nearly deserted downtown area, and saw that the
fair's main architectural features were soon to be torn down, I was
filled with a sense of failure.
I had hoped to comment here on the possibility of scattered European
contacts in far more ancient times and their effects on disease, but
had had my camera seized at Etowah for photographing "Creek" burial
objects. I suppose that some may take it as a sign of progress that the
Creek are now able to silence their ancient enemies as surely as
Washington silenced the Mannahoac, but for me it is just a sign of the
insanity of our times.
My final conclusion must be that as far as the study of impact events
goes, given the impediments which prevent archaeologists in the United
States from moving forward, we will be better off working with the
record as it now exists, and in the future relying on geologists for
work in areas of interest to Conference participants.
There is also one bit of wisdom which I wish to pass on to the
Conference as well. On the sign leaving from Ocmulgee there was written
"Everything is Connected", and so it is. The taking of this survey was
undoubtedly connected with the loss of the favours of a lady friend who
felt that I was ignoring her, and the loss (expenditure) of several
thousand dollars. Both will be missed.
Copyright 2000, Ed Grondine
* Anyone who wishes help with the materials and references used in
this essay can contact Ed Grondine at: <email@example.com>
* The essay is available online at:
CCCMENU CCC for 2000