Wickliffe Mounds Sun Circle Floor Painting

Sun Circle Floor Painting feature was found during excavation at Wickliffe Mounds, KY.

The description of the circle at the Wickliffe Mounds stated:

“In the summer of 1994, The Murray State University archaeological field crew, directed by Dr. Kit Wesler, Professor of Archaeology, Department of Geosciences at Murray State University, along with a consortium of other universities making up the Middle Mississippi Survey, excavated around the cemetery at the Wickliffe Mounds archaeological site (15BA4) as part of an extensive research project. A Mississippian era house floor was discovered during the excavation process, located west of the cemetery (Mound C) and north of the smaller platform mound (Mound B). The excavation revealed a fired clay floor, with a painting of a circle and cross motif, a Native American symbol often referred to as a Sun Circle.

The Sun Circle (cross inside circle) is a widespread symbol in Mississippian and Southeastern Native American art. Its meaning combines the four directions, the circle of the earth, and the sacred fire, the sun and perhaps other symbolism. This motif is depicted on pottery, shell and stone and is a symbol of the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex.”

Other examples of the use of color in mounds include Shiloh National Military Park in West Tennessee.


This type of colored soil is also noted in Neolithic and Bronze Age earthen mounds.  Colored soil is believed to represent Burial context, as stated by Mary Ann Owoc in the following:

“It is suggested that color was used by the builders of the monuments to delineate and highlight particular positions of funerary rituals, and moreover, that colour was part of a suite of symbolic attributes of the buried landscape that enabled particular interpretations of the funerary rituals to be made by the community of mourners.”


Limestone Slabs were hit by the backhoes as the sides of the mound were being  removed. Use of the limestone slabs in mound construction is important because it is known in late archaic and woodland period mounds including Hopper Mound.


Archaeologist Gregory Perino excavations show similar woodland and archaic artifacts in association with limestone slabs. Limestone slabs are often found in association with ancient human burials.

Several Cedar and Bald Cypress Posts were also revealed in the excavations at Monks Mound.  Bald Cypress is rarely found in Southern Illinois, but is more common in southern wetlands and swamps. Bald Cypress is a long lived tree that can live to be around 1200 years old or more.  Red Cedar is also a native evergreen tree that is known to have religious significance to Native American groups.

If the wooden samples are sent to several independent properly certified carbon dating companies, then it would be possible to determine an accurate date for the construction of the “World’s Largest Pyramid”. It is necessary, however, to publish the complete reports without editing the data or re-calibrating the dates.

The pottery rims found in the Monks Mound spoil piles may be interpreted as evidence of royal or imperial purple dye. Only the wealthiest empires could afford such items. One example is the Phoenicians, who used shells to manufacture purple dye.  Purple dye was possibly used on royal clothing and pottery.  The earliest written records for purple pottery date to around 2600 BC in China . (http://www.straw.com/sig/dyehist.html)

I suggest that shell heaps found throughout the Americas are evidence of royal dye manufacturing centers. Dye such as Murex purple was an extremely valuable commodity and was made from a part of the mollusk. It is said that a pound of Murex purple took over 60,000 shells to make. The murex shell is a species that is native to the East Coast of North America from North Carolina to Florida.  This would explain the reason that many of the shells had holes poked through them at Cahokia Mounds as well.

DNA analysis in 5 of 8 (63%) of burials at Cahokia in Mound 72 Sub 2 revealed a rare mutation in Haplotype B. This mutation has been identified also in 9% of the Hopewell Mound Group burials of central Ohio. DNA analysis indicates Haplotype B is found in individuals from China, Korea, Russia, Mongolia, Japan, South America, and Taiwan. 

Haplotype B is the also found among Africans in 30/51 individuals (59%).

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DNA analysis indicates a connection between the Ohio Hopewell and the Cahokia Elite

Mills, Lisa A.

Mitochondrial of the Ohio Hopewell of the Hopewell Mound Group


Ohio State University.


Monks Mound was partially destroyed by the State of Illinois Historic Preservation Agency without a permit and as a result, the IAS community recommended installation of an oversight committee at Cahokia Mounds to prevent future destruction to the World Heritage Site. The state bureaucrats responsible for the preservation of the Historical site have rejected this suggestion and did not respond to any specific questions about the events.


Tim Pauketat wrote me and stated "I am in agreement that the recent work at Monks Mound should result in a more serious look at preservation standards and the state's management of Cahokia."

National Geographic Society Response: Thank you for contacting the National Geographic Society. We appreciate your comprehensive description of the damage at Monks Mound. As a private, non-profit educational organization we are restricted from attempts to influence legislation, but I have passed your email along to the editors of the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC magazine to make them aware of the situation.

If you have not already, I would suggest you address your concerns to UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre, which designated the Cahokia Mounds as a World Heritage Site in 1982. The Centre seeks to protect and preserve World Heritage sites. They can be contacted through their website at: http://whc.unesco.org/ Thank you for thinking of us.


Julie Crain

National Geographic Society

A more correct procedure for handling this project according to my father, Dr. Larry Barrows, a licensed professional Illinois geologist,

"Unfortunately the engineering was inappropriate for the mound stabilization problem.

A correct approach would have included:

  • Horizontal wells in the native soil beneath the mound. The wells would remove groundwater from the mound material.

  • Topsoil fill with a good stand of grass on top of the mound. The topsoil fill would be shaped to control runoff and limit infiltration.

  • An elevated viewers’ platform to keep the tourists off the grass.

These could have been installed with minimal interference with the actual mound material. The other very obvious option is to recognize that Monks Mound exists as a slumped and deformed structure. Then do nothing.

The terrace and backfill method that was employed is a correct strategy for a slope with a stable core such as a one-sided road cut or a landslide in unconsolidated alluvium on a hillside. It is not correct for a homogeneous four-sided mound in which the most intense shear stress (and deformation) is expected to occur directly beneath the crest of the mound.

The water pressure (and pressure-induced reduction in shear-strength) is also expected to be greatest beneath the crest. In this instance the correct strategy is to get the water out of the material. Incidentally my background includes a PhD in geophysics, research into computer modeling of gravity-loaded earth structures, 30+ years of professional experience in environmental sciences, teaching graduate environmental geology and geohydrology, and an Illinois Licensed Professional Geologist certification.

I am not a licensed engineer but I do work for an environmental engineering company and have a working knowledge of engineering geology. If you want a reference on the role of water in slumps, slides, and slope stability see the Annenberg Earth Revealed movie on mass wasting.

3. This is a link to the radio program where we discussed this issue. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/oopa-loopa-cafe/2007/09/14/vince-barrows-destruction-and-discovery-at-monks-mound

This is a link to my father’s letter to the editor http://www.sj-r.com/Opinion/stories/15945.asp

Mythology and Monks Mound:

Nearly none of our writers on Indian History have associated the Monks Mound with a number of legends or myths.  This is due to an unfortunate belief that the thoughts of the mound builders are indiscernible and will forever be lost.  Some have stated that they are of the opinion that it seems very hazardous to draw any conclusions as to the religious beliefs of the Mound Builders. However, it is revealed that creation stories, legends, and myths are abundant which can be reasonably associated with importance in the moundbuilders culture.  Many Native American groups either lived at or visited Cahokia. Yet they all had similar words for it, meaning Holy place.

I suggest material evidence of "snake mountain" is seen in the crosshatched tablets found all over Monks Mound and the turtle shell found turned upside down when constructing the stairs on the first terrace of Monks Mound. The turtle shell was turned upside down and placed into a giant "midden".

 Turtle Island: Monks Mound as a Turtle Effigy; Trident on left depicts death, darkness and sun symbol on right depicts sun and birth. The stylized turtle in the center with the hole in its back ties into the story of the hole in the sky through which fell the sky maiden, Nanabozho.

Many Native American myths relate to stories associated with such consecrated objects and mounds have been recorded by savants of history. In one fitting account, the sky maiden named Nanabozho fell through the hole in the sky as she was digging up a turnip. As she fell through the hole, all the water creatures that were floating on the water-covered earth saw her falling to earth. 

The water birds volunteered to save her by crisscrossing their long necks in this, that, and every direction to make a net. When she fell into the net, the ducks became exhausted and the turtle volunteered to let her sit on its back.  Eventually, trees sprouted from the turtles back, and debris began to float up and collect around the turtle.  Raven brought the eternal fire, thus its blackened color.  This is how North America was formed. 

The sky Maiden who was digging turnups, was the head of the sky people and together with her husband the Great Sun led the earth people.


Monks mound is prominently situated as the central feature of the Cahokia Mounds group, a group of around 120 mounds in the region. From an aerial and profile view, the mound is composed in the shape of a turtle effigy. 

These projections may represent the turtles hind legs on the north side, constructed to indicate movement. The front projections on the first terrace represent legs of the turtle.  I suggest the possibility is that this is an effigy of a turtle burying its eggs, or possibly a turtle walking south.  Several versions of this account are found throughout North America.  I concur with the late Oscar Schneider,  “Monks Mound, that giant earthwork built in four stages with a projecting ramp to the south, is actually a giant turtle figure." Oscar Schneider, Cahokian Magazine.

If it was a sacred "National Monument" for Turtle Island, presently known as North America, which was once held in the highest regards as among the worlds most sacred places.  Monks Mound was used for ceremonies that relate to the "big house" ceremony, in which the sky people sat on the north and the earth people sat on the south of the path of the sun. They contemplated the intricate workings of the cosmos, their ancestors, and their descendants.

Monks mound was constructed so quickly, and with unknown colored soil types, that no grass had a chance to grow throughout the construction process. Perhaps it was then monks mound was the consecrated tomb of Nanabozho, and no effort was spared.

The ritual use and symbolism are important to consider. Linguistic studies reveal that the term for Monks Mound was called Wa-kon-da. This term is similar to the later transcribed as Twakanhah, wakan tanka, wakanda, and this means the Great Spirit. This was the invisible spirit world that was applied to large hills, trees, and animals that are all part of the larger world. 

Rituals were conducted on Monks mound to demonstrate an understanding of the cosmos and honor the ancestors. The Big House Ceremony was an important ceremony that took place on Monks Mound.  Anthropologists John Strong, Selwyn Dewdney, Frank Speck and Francis La Flesche described these ceremonies in great detail.

It is impossible to know or to put into words the sacred consecrated nature of monks mound or to describe its true significance to the original builders. The Walam Olum gives some insight into this story in which a turtle was drawn as the earth, on which Nanabozho fell.

Art educator and noted expert on Ojibway art and anthropology Selwyn Dewdney wrote the comprehensive study of Birchbark Scrolls which detailed the similarity to the Walam Olum, as follows:

"A surviving pictographic record on wood, preserved by the Algonquian-speaking Delaware long after they had been shifted from their original homeland on Atlantic shores at the mouth of the Delaware River, offers evidence of how ancient and widespread is the myth of a flood involving a powerful water manito. The record is known as the Walum Olum (Painted Sticks), and was interpreted for George Copway by a Delaware Elder... Apart from the reference to man's moral wickedness, the mood and imagery of the Walum Olum convey an archaic atmosphere that surely predates European Influence."

(Dewdney, page 128).

Joe Napora also suggested that original birch bark documents were the source of Rafinesque's study. In 1996 a French version of a presentation by Napora, best known for his Walam Olum Translation, was published, saying,

"It is not in the interest of poetry to continue this dispute because the remaining pieces show a myth of emergence which is a complete story in the sense that it moves from the indefinite to the particular... Here, the details are a period of thousands of years and a space for thousands of miles... This is a true story, although it has been lost for too long for us" Napora, Joe


Walam Olum, présentation] in ''Sur Le Dos de La Tortue. Revue de littérature amérindienne'' N°24, Octobre 1996.

Additional supporting evidence that such scrolls are authentic was presented by Kidd in American Antiquity as follows:

"Two instances of Birch-bark "scrolls" in archaeological contexts are reported from the Head-of-the-Lakes Region In Ontario."  In 1954, a multidisciplinary team of scholars from the Indiana Historical Society published a reliable translation and commentary, saying that "the Red Score is a worthy subject for students of aboriginal culture"

The Cahokia Mounds site was occupied from the earliest Paleolithic and Neolithic times to European arrival, probably due to its convenient location at the confluence of major rivers. 

The Monks Mound is a timeless monument that will be here long after we are gone. Our culture appreciates the historic value of the Cahokia and surrounding Indian mounds. Preservation should be done to keep it in as original shape as possible, not to make it into a visually appealing shape to the Site Management of the Illinois State Historic Preservation Agency. 

As such, our posterity will be able to appreciate it for many more millennia.


It is also important to consider the Wa-sho’-be Zhin-ga, or little sacred objects with stone engravings found on Tablets from Cahokia and the American bottom region. These tablets represent sacred objects that are consecrated. There are several examples of the tablets that I know of that are inscribed from the Cahokia Mounds. It is hoped that a broad iconographic study will reveal information that would otherwise be lost.

Birdman Tablet

  • Description (general): Engraved sandstone tablet fragment

  • Material (medium): Sandstone

  • Length (Ht.): 92 mm  Width (Diam.): 62mm  Depth (Thick): 17mm

  • Form/ Shape: Rectangular; diagonal Copperhead snake scale replication X-hatch one side, falconoid- human figure exhibiting cloaking behavior with possible sun tablet worn on chest depicted on other. Precise solstice alignments and lunar min and max azimuth angles shown by lines on the “wing”.  The obverse has an 82.14% similarity to copperhead snake scales on reverse.

  • Providence: Cahokia Site, Monks Mound, west side of mound located on the southern tip of southernmost lobe just west of a burial.

  • It is important to notice the aquiline hooknose trait. Some call it the Roman Nose. This is also known as a feature of Buddha. This physical feature is noticed on the mummy of Thutmose III (1479 BC-1429 BC) and Ramses II (1279 BC-1213 BC).

  • Cultural Affiliation: "Mississippian", due to proximity to Mississippi River

  • Ownership: Illinois State Museum

  • Accession/ Catalog numbers present: none

  • Arrival Condition/ damage: Aboriginal breaks

  • Date Received: 1971

“Cahokia’s Birdman symbol was found engraved on a four-inch sandstone tablet unearthed in 1971 in a lobe on the east side of Monks Mound.  Radio-carbon dating of charcoal found at the base of the lobe or stump shows an approximate date of AD 1310.

The back of the small tablet is crosshatched with a pattern which some say represents the skin of a snake.  The front of the tablet shows a man wearing a mask with a birdlike beak. He also wears ear spools and has feathers attached to his arms or to a cape. Thus the sky world (bird), the earth world (man) and the under world (snake) are symbolically embodied on this one tablet.

An engraved shell gorget from the Mississippian site at Etowah, Georgia, and an engraved shell from Spiro, Oklahoma, depict a man wearing similar ear spools, mask and feathered cape.  Native American “eagle dancers” continued to appear in ceremonies into historic times.”


 The Kassly- Schaefer tablet was found with a pottery head that was probably manufactured together.  The Tablet represents the torso and the head is a decapitation symbol. There is strong precedence for this. The Thruston tablet is an example of similar imagery that shows a tablet representing a torso symbol.

This very rare Native American artifact called the Kassly-Schaefer tablet is now on permanent display at the Cahokia Mounds.

This interesting sandstone tablet is inscribed on both sides with symbols that represent a very scarce remainder of those that were made by people that lived in the civilization called the Cahokia Mounds.  The symbols were carved from sandstone at the location of the present day Cahokia Mounds and probably are a record of tribal mythology. 

It had been left at its place of discovery south of Old Valmeyer, IL until the finder Elizabeth Agnes Kassly discovered the tablet in pieces on November 15, 2000 and May 15, 2003 after the tablet had been hit by a plow.  On January 14, 2007, The Tablet was placed on display at the Cahokia Mounds Interpretive Center. The tablet has a length (Ht.) equal to 86.67 mm) width (Diam.) equal to 60.76 mm, and depth (Thick) equal to 28.37mm at the middle and 26.20mm nearing edges. The tablet weighs 142.2 grams.

This tablet was carved from sandstone by an elite resident at the location of Cahokia Mounds probably during the Hopewellian era around 2500 years ago, and may have been highly revered as part of an Casqui ancestral shrine until around 1543, when the Capachi Raided the Casqui Shrine, as documented in the DeSoto Chronicles. 

It may have also been kept in the central portion of the chief’s residence on Monks Mound, to be circuited by every visitor to the house, before ever speaking to or looking at the chief, according to the Jesuit Chronicles.

Published in the following:

Elizabeth Agnes Kassly,

The Prehistoric Birdman Tablets of Illinois

Prehistoric American #2, 2004.

Illinois Antiquity, Volume 36, No 2

July 2001

Icons include an ancestral lineage feather on the top of the front side above a deeply engraved line that possibly represents the sky vault.  Seven inscribed points on the central figure resemble an asterism grouping, possibly “Aquarius”.  The front right side shows a set of four downward branching lines that represent fish skeletons with antlers, completing the astronomical watery grouping called Capricorns, the “Water Goat”. Beneath this is a set of 13 lines, possibly representing 13 days in each of the 20 months in the Mayan Long Count.

 The right leg is drawn with a sharpened appearance and may have connections to Blackfoot and Natoas myths of the tornado called the “Sharpened leg”. The diagonal line overlays the asterism grouping corresponds with the lunar orbit.  The reverse crosshatched side bears resemblance to scales of a venomous Copperhead snakeskin shedding diagonally from the halfway point toward the right.

This symbol is of Maya, or veiled consciousness and each x represents the arms and legs interlocking of all the ancestral founders.  Another likely interpretation, as presented in the Walam Olum, is that the X invariably represents War, Evil or Bad things.  Completing the important discovery was an ancient pottery head that was made with an insect-like right eye, an upturned beak-like nose, and an open mouth showing teeth.

More can be seen about these objects at the following web locations:

The right eye probably represents the sun and the left missing eye represents the moon.  In parallel with this symbolic effect, the shamanic custom of crossing eyes represented an eclipse.  We will never know the exact meaning intended by the ancient master, however, Native American Ojibwa mythology of Nanabozho may represent similar meaning.

In my opinion, the imagery on this tablet includes an Osage creation ritual called the Wa-zha-zhe. This ritual combined tradition with symbols. According to La Flesche, “In the mythical story of this gens the people came from the stars to the earth. In their wanderings they came suddenly upon a man who stood in the midst of the waters that rushed noisily over the rocks. 

The man leading the way turned around and said to his followers:

“here stands Wa-zha-zhe, a person who has made the waters of the earth his body.”

The person spoke to the people, saying:

“If you make of me your bodies your little ones shall become difficult to be overtaken by death; they shall enable themselves to live to see old age. They shall also come to see the days that are beautiful.”

Derivations of Ojibwa legends are seen from page 203 of The Midewiwin of the Ojibwa text, which includes the translation of the following symbol:

“Mi´-sha-kwat´-ni-yō´. I brought the medicine to bring life. The Midē´ Man´idō, the Thunderer, after bringing some of the plants—by causing the rains to fall—returns to the sky. The short line represents part of the circular line usually employed to designate the imaginary vault of the sky.”

An Assemblage of artifacts from the Schaefer’s site including pottery, scrapers, arrowheads, and knives. 

Arrowhead styles include two Madison points, one Cahokia point (900 AD to 1150 AD, two Paleo or Oneoto style scrapers, pottery rim shards, one Hamilton incurvate arrowhead (diagnostic of Late Woodland Hamilton culture from about 500 AD to 1000 AD), one Steuben (diagnostic of terminal Middle Woodland to early Late Woodland periods dating about 100 AD through 500 to 800 AD), one Motley (800 BC to 600 BC which relates to the Poverty Point culture), and one Wade base (diagnostic from the late archaic and early woodland transition dating from 1000 BC to 500 BC).

Of 5093 pottery sherds from Fenaia percentage by Slip Color : 50% Cordmarked, 50% plain 15,274 chert pieces from Fenaia Site, of Varied colors including Red, Yellow, Black, White, and Green.


Several remarkable examples of chungke stones (discoidals) were found at this site.  One was found with an eye engraved on one side and a spiral on the other side.  Another chungke stone was found with a circle- and cross motif. The eye is a of perception of light and the spiral for perception of sound. The eye and spiral combination is known as the Gaelic term Faochag, which translates to the whirlwind spiral and thunder with the eye representing lightning. 

In combination the two can also relate to whirlpool, or whirlwind causation.  Several experts indicate that the combination are related to fertility.  According to Schuster in Patterns That Connect, parallels to the eye and spiral motif are found in Kenya, Borneo, on the earliest Sanskrit inscriptions in Java, and elsewhere in Oceania. 

"European lore tells of a child lost by chance or treachery, then rediscovered - recognized from a royal cross, ' redder than the rose of summer', on his right shoulder. In medieval romances, those who discover this fateful mark, even before they can assign the pre-destined hero a precise geneaology, don't hesitate to exclaim, like the countess who rescues Richard le Bleu, abandoned in the forest soon after birth, "O God, he shall be king!"

(Schuster, page 144).

Several other chungke stones have been found with engravings around the Cahokia Mounds.  One is from nearby D. Hitchens site was found with an eye on one side and a sun on the other at the.

As described by Erin Marks,

“Klostermeier found artifacts on the site that suggest some reciprocal trade with Cahokia.  First is a discoidal, which is a disc similar to the chunky stones of Cahokia, except that this particular one has an engraving of an eye on one side and a sun on the other. 

These are very rare and suggest that the D. Hitchens site could have been more elaborate than a mundane farmstead.  The discovery of the discoidal  leads Klostermeier to consider that this site might hold a village, rather than a simple farmstead, (Yancey 2005:16).  These are two very different views on the function of the site.”


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Quincy Museum Tablet Reverse restoration


The Quincy Museum tablet found at Monks mound in 1921 by Byron Knoblock seems also to have symbolic connections with the Birdman Tablet. Illinois Antiquity. Volume 30, Number 3. October 1995. Kevin Sampson

“Broken edges are heavily worn and the stone has been lightly burned.  The artifact measures 6.2mm in length, 4.4mm in width, and 1.5 mm in thickness.  The engraving on this tablet fragment depicts a nearly complete tail and lower wings of a falcon.  The layout of the engraving is that of an open winged falcon from the underneath side with outstretched talons.  This is executed in a style similar to the famous Cahokia Birdman Tablet and we can only speculate on what the body and head of the bird looked like, nevertheless, this “half falcon” is an important addition to Cahokias somewhat sparse iconographic history.”

Quincy museum information:

“This piece was identified by Kevin Sampson, Illinois State Museum, while looking through artifacts our museum received from Byron Knoblock.”

  • Description (general): Engraved sandstone tablet fragment

  • Material (medium): Sandstone

  • Length (Ht.): 62.87 mm      Width (Diam.): 45.00 mm, 63.17 total based on ratio     Depth (Thick): 14.39 mm

  • Form/ Shape: nearly complete tail and lower wings of a falcon figure with extended leg and talons grasping serpent, reverse with semi-circular markings(?) covered with sticker

  • Providence: Cahokia Site, west of Monks Mound. Found May 15, 1921.  Donated by Byron Knoblock to Quincy Museum

  • “Broken edges are heavily worn and the stone has been lightly burned.  The engraving on this tablet fragment depicts a nearly complete tail and lower wings of a falcon.  The layout of the engraving is that of an open winged falcon from the underneath side with outstretched talons. This is executed in a style similar to the famous Cahokia Birdman Tablet but we can only speculate on what the body and head of the bird looked like.  Nevertheless, this “half-falcon” is an important addition to Cahokias somewhat sparse iconographic history” Kevin Sampson.

  • Ownership: Quincy Museum

  • Accession/ Catalog numbers present: 102-660

  • Arrival Condition/ damage: Aboriginal breaks, and possible erosion

  • Published: Illinois Antiquity, Volume 30 Number 3,October 1995, Illinois Antiquity

  • Vol 36, No. 2 July 2001 Illinois Antiquity

However, the following is a possibility about the possible meaning and interpretation of several tablets.

In the dialect between the Algonquian speaking Narragansetts in A Key Into the Language of America by Roger Williams and the New Albin Tablet pictured here:

The image on the front of the New Albin tablet shows a lightning bolt-wielding deity. The Narragansett word for 'thunderbolts are shot' is: Neimpauog peskhimwock.

Meaning in the ‘other’ Quincy Museum tablet found at Monks mound in 1921 by Byron Knoblock (?) seems also to have symbolic language. My interpretation is that the myth "Chekechekchekawe" is most closely fitting for this image. The term is defined in Keating's footnote as:

The next account, by Keating, [Footnote: Long's Exped., 1824, ii, p. l58.] relating to the Chippewas, shows a slight analogy to the sandstone tablet at Qunicy Museum:

"The Chippewa believe that there is in man an essence entirely distinct from the body; they call it "Ochechag," and appear to supply to it the qualities which we refer to the soul. They believe that it quits the body at the time of death and repairs to what they term "Chekechekchekawe;" this region is supposed to be situated to the south and on the shores of the great ocean.

Previous to arriving there they meet with a stream which they are obliged to cross upon a large snake that answers the purpose of a bridge; those who die from drowning never succeed in crossing the stream; they are thrown into it and remain there forever. Some souls come to the edge of the stream but are prevented from passing by the snake that threatens to devour them: these are the souls of the persons in a lethargy or trance. Being refused a passage, these souls return to their bodies and reanimate them. They believe that animals have souls and even that inorganic substances such as kettles etc., have in them a similar essence."

“In this land of souls all are treated according to their merits. Those who have been good men are free from pain, they have no duties to perform, their time is spent in dancing and singing and they feed upon mushrooms which are very abundant The souls of bad men are haunted by the phantom of the persons or things that they have injured, thus if a man has destroyed much property the phantoms of the wrecks of this property obstruct his passage wherever he goes, if he has been cruel to his dogs or horses they also torment him after death.

The ghosts of those whom during his lifetime he wronged are there permitted to avenge their injuries. They think that when a soul has crossed the stream it cannot return to its body, yet they believe in apparitions and entertain the opinion that the spirits of the departed will frequently revisit the abodes of their friends in order to invite them to the other world and to forewarn them of their approaching dissolution.”

In Roger's Willaims Key to the Language of America "Chekechekchekawe" is defined as: a southwest God, newborn faun, or simply a location to the south south-west.

Well represented on this tablet are the Tsi-zhu (sky) and hon-ga (earth) people and the Wa-zha-zhe (water) people’s structure of shrines in their villages along the path of the sun.  These tribal divisions called clans (fires) held ceremonies during which the interplay of aspects involving ancestry and cosmological wisdom were celebrated.

Another possibility is a correspondence between the obverse side of the Quincy Tablet and the constellation of Aquila. 

Perhaps this symbol represents a secret symbol of stargazing shaman or holy men.

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Mary Mathews Falcon

Found at the Fenaia site, just south of Old Valmeyer on Bluff Road by Mary Mathews, some time between 1978-1980, Dimensions include a maximum length equal to 121.96 mm from head to tail, 96.86 mm from claw to wing tip, and thickness equal to 19.26mm. Latitude = 38 deg 16’34.31”N, Longitude = 90 deg 18’03.20” W

A line encircles the outer edge of the stone, as if to indicate an eternal path (of war).

This tablet probably was used in a sacred bundle. As described by Francis La Flesche, Osage and the Invisible World:

In formulating this supplementary rite, the priests, in order to give their action a mystic effect, resorted to a mythical story in which the Men of Mystery and the Buffalo Bull clans figured prominently as the givers of a hawk as a war emblem to each of the Seven Fireplaces (clans) of the Land People; to each of the Seven Fireplaces (clans) of the Water People; and to each of the Seven Fireplaces (clans) of the Sky People.

These hawks were called Wa-xo’-be Zhin-ga, Little bundles, and symbolized the courage of the warrior. There seems to be no tradition as to whether the four eagles above mentioned were enshrined or not, but if they were, they appear to have been supplanted by the sacred hawks that were enshrined (figuratively) in the space between the arch of the sky and earth beneath, [both of] which are symbolically represented by the woven rush case within which lies the hawk.

One of the best-known of these stories tells how the Raven disguised himself in order to enter the house of the Sky Chief, from whom he stole the sun, moon and stars (Princess) to give to humankind (progenitors of all lineage). Morphing of the Sky Chief's spoiled grandson back into Raven - And then Raven fills the sky with the sun in his beak (another explanatory motif for why beak is missing on the tablet, and how the next Great Sun appears). Thanks to Raven the thief, we now have daylight in the world.

Blackfoot mythology tells of the raven and thunderbird, controllers of frigid snow, and lightning, respectively. Every day they battle each other with lightning and snow. Thunderbird uses lightning to melt the snow, which continues until the entire world is frozen solid except for a small space around thunderbird.

The tablet includes both images melded into one.

Weck Stone Tablet – St. Louis County at confluence of Meramec and Mississippi

On Friday, June 8, 2007, Shari and I went to the University of Missouri to research the tablets cast by Eichenberger. In the collection was the Weck Tablet from St. Louis County. The card description read as follows:

“WECK STONE (TABLET), Eichenberger Cast Pre-1966 No. 65


From a large village site in the extreme southeast corner of Saint Louis, County on the second bottoms at the confluence of the Meramec and Mississippi Rivers.

Found in 1889 and in the collection of Charles E. Weck in Kimmswick, MO. Loaned for casting by Frank Magre of Crystal City, MO.”

Dimensions were as follows:

Length= 73.30 mm, Width = 48.85mm, Thickness= 7.19 mm,

Weight= 36 gram, Mass= 0.353 Newton

The prospect of a major archaeological site intrigued Shari and myself, and so we looked up the location and found it to be very nearby the Schaefer and Fenaia Sites, only on the other side of the River. We decided to travel to the site to try our luck and see what we could find. Below is a location map.

The local residents informed us upon inquiry about archaeology in the area that there was a large stone wall of unknown age and two mounds directly across the railroad tracks. We walked over to the site and found that the rock wall was easy to locate. It was about 20 feet tall, and composed of limestone, gravel, and chert, combined in layers. The wall was covered with vines and trees, and was very weathered.

The weathering and materials used in construction indicated a great age.  Upon inspection, the wall was found to extend up the hill and may have been once part of a much larger enclosure. Large oak trees had grown on top of segments of the wall.  The tree roots were causing major cracks to develop in the structure of the wall.  Severe erosion and weathering was also clear and it is unknown how long the wall extended up the hillside.

The thick underbrush made it difficult to determine the extents of the walls dimensions. Further investigation and following a well used ATV trail led us to two mounds that were side by side. The mounds were surrounded by ATV tracks and a peregrine falcon was flying over top of them. An unknown snake slithered away from us through the grass on the walk to the mounds.

Several motifs are present including a woodpecker in the central portion of the tablet which bears a resemblance to the Ramey- Peet sandstone tablet.

There is also a depiction of a canoe rigged with a sail beneath the woodpecker and a whirlwind or tornado toward the right.  Lee Pennington stated that the sailing vessel is of a double gunwale style.  In Jenning’s Bark Canoes, the presence of canoes rigged with sails is noted among the Mi’kmaq birchbark ocean canoes, Western Ojibwa Lake Nipigon Birchbark canoes, and the Chipewyan Birchbark from North River, near Forth Churchill on Hudson Bay (Jennings, 29, 77, 88). 

Beneath the tornado is a form that also shows up on several catlinite engravings.  The circle and figure in the center may be a depiction of the Cahokia Mounds at the confluence of the Mississippi River and Missouri River. The figure in the lower right hand corner is a mythic green or blue dragon, guardian of the east.  In the upper left is a mythic Kirin or panther image that appears similar to the carving of the Key Marco figurine.

The Kirin was known as the guardian of the west and it was in use at the time of Confucius.

It is remarkable that the three hands engraved on the reverse side show each hand facing up but the fingers are drawn in such a manner that the thumb is on the opposite side of the correct location. The right hand is the left and the left hand is the right. The hands would have to be crossed to achieve this.  The middle hand either facing up or down and may be a representation of both up and down directions.

The fingers are touching at key points to indicate interlacing with the swirl. At the St. Louis Art Museum, a recent exhibit on New Ireland: Art of the South Pacific, I had the privilege to speak with Michael Gunn about his work in New Ireland. Michael Gunn reported that the most ancient art forms of the aboriginal occupants in include carved figurines with the left hand and right hand switched. For example, the actual right hand was present on all figures shown on the left side.

The left hand was shown on the right side. Michael Gunn indicated that such figures could represent ancestral ties to the past.

The hands are also shown with very long fingers and long fingernails. Perhaps this indicates mortuary rituals associated with removing flesh from a body after it has decomposed in the charnel house. The middle hand has a whirl below the wrist.

Beneath the hands is a face of the Braden B Style with “Blind eyes” (Pre-Columbian Shell Engravings from the Craig Mound at Spiro, Oklahoma, Part 1). 

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