CONTENTS OF THE MOUNDS; REMAINS OF ANCIENT WORKMANSHIP.
WE have already stated, in their proper connection, the results of the examinations of the mounds at various places; but some general facts remain to be mentioned.
It is important to determine with certainty whether the relics found buried are the work of the original mound-builders, and placed there at the time of the erection of the mounds, or have been deposited subsequently. This can usually be done with a reasonable degree of certainty by one accustomed to such investigations.
So far as I have had opportunity to observe, there are no original remains in the mounds of imitative form, beyond a few scattered fragments that may have gained a place there by accident. Many of the mounds have been entirely removed, including the earth beneath for a considerable depth, in the process of grading streets in Milwaukee; and it is usually found that the natural surface had not been disturbed at the time of the erection, but that the several layers or strata of mould, clay, gravel, &c., are continuous below the structure as on the contiguous grounds.
Great numbers of the smaller conical tumuli are also destitute of any remains; and if human bodies were ever buried under them, they are now so entirely returned to dust that no apparent traces of them are left. If we assume that each mound was a place of burial, we must infer from the absence of utensils that the common practice of depositing with the dead the implements to be used in the other world, is of comparatively recent origin; since some of these, at least, would have resisted decay. The middle-sized conical mounds, and those of larger dimen- [page 81:] sion, almost always contain evidence of the deposit of one or more human bodies. These are always very much decayed; only one skull having been found sufficiently entire to enable Dr. Hoy, with much skill and labor, to restore it sufficiently to make out its general characteristics. A fortunate combination of circumstances had caused this preservation. The skull and some other bones were enveloped in a peculiar kind of clay, which seems to have possessed a preservative quality beyond that of ordinary earth, of which most of the accumulation was composed; and on the very top of the mound was a large tree, which had shed off the rains for several centuries. Many peculiarities of this cranium are pointed out by Dr. Hoy. (Chapter I, page 9.)
On Plate LIII, there is a drawing of the natural size; and figures 37 and 38 represent the top and back views of the same skull reduced to one quarter of the natural size.
The following are its dimensions:
To give the reader more particular information respecting the supposed characteristics of this interesting relic of an extinct people, I have, with the assistance of a phrenological friend, prepared the following chart. For the localities of the organs, &c., reference was had to Spurzheim,1 whose works have become a portion of the literature of the country, and are to be found in all important libraries, Although the principles of this professed science may not be true in all their details, yet its nomenclature affords the means of presenting the conformation of the skull in a definite manner. The figure following the name of each organ indicates its relative development; 0 signifying deficiency, and 6 very full or unusual prominence.
This chart shows that the affective, or feeling faculties, prevail over the intellectual, in the proportion of 4.3 to 3.9; and the several groups of organs are developed in the following order:
Whether these figures can be relied upon as indicating the character and disposition of the individual to whom the skull belonged, may be doubted; though it will be perceived that their indications correspond with the general character of the aborigines, in the large cautiousness, individuality, &c., and the deficient constructiveness, calculation, &c.
But few implements, ornaments, or works of art of any kind, have been discovered in the mounds of Wisconsin, that could not be traced to recent Indian burials; and yet it is certain that had they been originally deposited, they would still be found there. The stone axes, flint arrow-heads, and articles of pottery, are of a durable character, and could not have decayed since the erection of the mounds. Hence, we conclude that the more ancient mound-builders of Wisconsin were not in the habit of making such deposits.
The tumulus opened by me at Waukesha (See Chapter II, page 28) contained a stone pipe, another of burned clay, and fragments of two vases. These were of the same general kind and composition as the pipes and pottery of the Indians so frequently turned up by the plough. [page 83:]
Fig. 39 represents the pipe found in or near the left hand of the skeleton. It consists of pottery made of the same materials as the ordinary vases or pots.
Fig. 40 was taken from the right hand of the same skeleton, and is made from a kind of soft argillite of a purplish color. This pipe differs from all others that I have seen, by having the horizontal opening on both sides.
Fig. 41 is made of steatite, green variegated with white.
Fig. 42 is a large calumet, or pipe of peace, made of a fine-grained gray sandstone. Having been broken, it was mended with plates of lead. The small round punctures are supposed to represent the number of treaties which had been solemnized by this emblem. The drawing reduces the size one half.
Fig. 43 is of the same material as the last, but of finer texture.
Fig. 44 was found on the surface of the ground, on Lake Koshokenong. It has been burned and broken into fragments. It was apparently made of a like soft argillaceous sandstone. [page 84:]
Fig. 45 is a fragment of a pipe made of a reddish argillaceous stone.
Fig. 46 is of gray fine-grained sandstone, so soft that it was apparently cut and reduced to the proper form with a knife.
Fig. 47 is of the same material, in which was found a small nodule of iron pyrites; and the artist has taken advantage of this to ornament his work, and to leave a corresponding protuberance on the opposite side for symmetry. It was presented to me by Miss Amelia E. Higgins.
Fig. 48 is made of the beautiful red pipe-stone from the Coteau des Prairies, and is probably also a calumet, or pipe of state.
Fig. 49 was made and used by the Menomonee Indians of the Neenah river, from a whitish stone, now injured by accidental fire.
The pipe, Figs. 50 and 51, is of a dark-colored stone or clay slate, with traces of organic remains surrounded by iron pyrites. The end may be supposed to repre- [page 85:] sent the head of a snake, or perhaps the bill of a duck. It belongs to Dr. P. R. Hoy, of Racine.
Fig. 39 is of artificial pottery. Figs. 40 and 50 are of argillite or clay slate rock. Fig. 41 is of steatite. Figs. 42, 43, 44, 46, and 47, are of gray sandstone, of a fine grain, and with argillaceous admixture. Fig. 45 is of reddish sandstone. Fig. 48 is of the red pipe-stone. Fig. 49 is of a whitish, or chalk-like stone.
In no one article was so much ingenuity displayed by aboriginal natives as in pipe making. Many of the pipes are formed with much taste, and are designed to be representations of animals with which they were familiar.
Arrow-points and spear-heads have occasionally been found in the mounds; but they mostly occur on, or not far beneath, the surface of the ground. They generally consist of schist or hornstone, usually denominated flint.
Fig. 52 represents an interesting form of arrow-point, narrower than usual, lozenge-shaped, and enlarged at the posterior extremity.
Remains of broken pottery are found in the mounds, and also in great abundance wherever there has been an Indian settlement. The pots were formed by hand, of clay and sand, or fine gravel, occasionally mixed with broken shells and other substances, and then slightly burned. The potters wheel, that most ancient of all machines, was evidently not in use among the aboriginal inhabitants of America.
The pots, or vases, found in the mounds at Waukesha and Racine, were in connection with the original deposit, and must, therefore, have been the work of the mound-builders. They agree in every respect with the fragments found about the old Indian villages; and probably with the same articles as now manufactured by the females of tribes residing on the Missouri.1
The vessels were variously ornamented by lines and dots stamped upon them, when in a soft state, by hand. Occasionally the whole surface is so marked, but usually the rim only is ornamented.
The vases obtained at Waukesha, and also at Aztalan, must have been broken before they were deposited in the mounds; for only portions of different vases could be found.
Fig. 53 represents the vase found in mound at Racine, and restored by Dr. P. R. Hoy, described in Chapter I.1
Fig. 54 represents a stone axe. These axes are worked to a sharp edge at one end, and have a depression around the head for the handle. Although they all have the same general form, there are no two exactly alike. The one figured must have been used in the manner of a carpenters adze. These are made of the hardest stone, selected from boulders very nearly of the right shape, so as to equire the least labor. Some of them retain portion of the natural polish of the boulder on the head and edges.
Figs. 55 and 56 represent a chisel-shaped instrument, which may have been employed in taking off the skins of huge quadrupeds.
These stone chisels were perhaps made use of instead of the bone, in dressing skins of the bison as is now practised by the wild Indians of the West. The last process, termed graining, is performed by the squaws, who use a sharpened bone, the shoulder-blade or other large bone of the animal, sharpened at the edge, somewhat like an adze; with the edges of which they scrape the fleshy side of the skin, bearing on with the weight of their bodies, thereby drying and softening, and fitting it for service. (Catlins North American Indians, I, 45.)
An image made of wood (Fig. 57) was discovered at Prairie village (Waukesha), soon after its first settlement by the whites, and presented yo me by Mr. C. F. Warren. It is evident that it could have no very great antiquity; though it may have been preserved and handed down for several generations. It is quite rudely carved, the head very much flattened, and the general expression more that of a monkey than of a man. [page 87:]
Such images were formerly common with the Indians, and are still to be found among the remote tribes, which retain many of their ancient customs. Most of the Crees carry with them one or more small wooden figures rudely carved, some of which they state to be representations of a malicious or at least a capricious being named Kepuchikan (or Gepuchikan), to whom they make offerings. (J. Richardsons Arctic Searching Expedition, 1852, page 268.)
Fig. 58 represents a circular stone composed of variegated quartz, of a light gray color, perforated; doubtless intended to be used in the Indian game of tchung-kee, as described by Catlin. 1
This stone was found at Milwaukee, where it had doubtless been lost at some remote time. Its form is precisely such as to enable it to roll the greatest distance without falling.
Similar stones are found in Ohio, and are described by Messrs. Squier and Davis,1 which were without doubt used for a like purpose.
Fig. 60 represents a chisel or implement of native copper, found at Stephens Point on the upper Wisconsin river, in 1850, and deposited in the cabinet of the University of Wisconsin by Mr. James W. Wright. It appears to have originally had a sort of finish on the upper or convex side, and on the edges; but in many places it is decayed and gone. There are also indications of grinding or rubbing, on the surface. The under, or flat side, is full of irregular cavities, and was probably never smoothed. It is supposed to have been brought to its present shape by hammering, probably with a stone hammer.
|Lapham, Increase Allen, 1811-1875. The antiquities of Wisconsin. Washington : Smithsonian Institution, 1855. p. 80-88.