On the Road with Ancient Indians

Mound builders

Mound builders

Two artist/scholars set off on a road trip of exploration of Indian mounds in the southeastern United States. The exciting blog Ahalenia posted this introduction of their tour in early September. Since then the two have visited and reported on nine different mound sites in six different states, and you can read about these visits on the Ahalenia blog by following the link above.

Not only is the history of these sites interesting, but the variance in the way people today treat the once sacred land gives one a lot to think about.  Some are public parks. Some have been reclaimed by today’s tribes. Some are still on private land and unexplored. The authors accompany their travelogue of the past of southeastern woodland Indians with photographs that make you feel you are there. You’ll have to go to Ahalenia to see their beautiful photographs. They are not including Ohio, but we have borrowed a few photos of Ohio Mound Builder sites.

Serpent Mound , Ohio

Serpent Mound , Ohio

When I was a little girl in Ohio, I was fascinated with the 1000-foot-long sinuous Serpent Mound (an effigy mound). We would drive there sometimes on a weekend, and climb up on the viewing tower so we could see the snake with his mouth open, swallowing an egg. My father would tell me about the Mound Builder Indians that once lived on that land.

I was in awe of Fort Ancient, whose high walls measure a total of five miles long . The Newark Earthworks, encompass the Octagon and the Great Circle earthworks, “The Great Circle is one part of the Newark Earthworks State Memorial, the largest system of connected geometric earthworks built anywhere in the world” according to the Ohio History web site.

Octagon Mound, Newark Earthworks

Octagon Mound, Newark Earthworks

When I was young and the family drove through the midwestern farmland, my father taught us to look carefully at farmers’ fields and see if there was a small hill that looked like it did not belong to nature. That was probably the work of ancient American Indians, he explained. When I was a child, very little was known about the mounds and their builders. They were a curiosity. Some stone tools were found in the area, people collected arrowheads.

Although the Mound Builder cultures remain a mystery, archaeologists have  learned much more. Study such as that being done by the author of Ahalenia and her colleague will shed more light on Mound Builder culture, and hopefully encourage people to have respect for these ancient people. And thanks to my visit to the M’ikmaq ‘s Glooscap Cultural Center in Nova Scotia, I know that there is a connection between those Mound Builders and the Quincy Tahoma’s people, the Diné (Navajo) of the Southwest.

Tahoma painted a semi-mythical past of warriors chasing buffalo, but there was an even more ancient and not mythical past of people who built effigies on the ground and aligned long earthen walls with the sun and the moon.

Having read several of Ahalenia’s posts, I now am itching to travel to the Southeast and see more of the remains of the Mound Builder culture.  Please take a look at her travel/study story and see if you are not amazed.

These photographs all come from Flickr, using a Creative Commons license. You can click on each photo to learn more about the photographer and see more photos.

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Have you visited Mound Builder sites? Where do you recommend we go to see interesting ones?

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2 Responses to On the Road with Ancient Indians

  1. Karen says:

    The above website is a link to an ancient Middle Mississippian archaeological site here in Wisconsin.

  2. pen4hire says:

    Thanks so much for sharing that. Yet another place to put on my road trip list! (Vera)

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