Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Monday, March 02, 2015

Nolumbeka Calendar

Wee Bit of Green (California Rock Walls)

     Out in Northern California and Oregon, it was just the warmest February on record. My friend Alyssa has been walking along rows of stones that some Elders call Spirit Paths which lead up into some High Places - and taking photos. The one above is quite near what she calls Pyramid Peak which has appeared on these pages (see: http://rockpiles.blogspot.com/2012/01/photos-to-compare.html or at Waking Up on Turtle Island - http://wakinguponturtleisland.blogspot.com/2012/02/following-smokefish-forests-fire-and.html ) before, as in the image below: 
   More green:

And I have to include this from a different spot (Howling Wolf Ridge):

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Up to your neck in snow

Up to your neck in snow,
Where can you go
To some stone piles and rows?
How about Bad Bad Potato:
  (I always see something there that I'd missed before:
Photostream: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sgobbare/with/16085415040/

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Cabin Fever Reliever

Rocks (with Names) as Seen on TV (and in Movies)
To "Hi-ho" to this cultural landscape that may look very familiar click on this:

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Tlingit Rock Formations

Cairns Uncovered: Documentary Explores Ancient Tlingit Rock Formations:
Scientists are studying rock arrangements found atop some of Alaska’s southern mountains for information about ancient Tlingit culture.  Photo: Bill Hunt

    “Parts of south Alaska’s inland, alpine landscape are dotted with mounds of artificially stacked rocks that are closely tied to Tlingit culture. These structures, known as rock cairns, are the focus of Cairns Uncovered, a soon-to-be-released documentary that explores Tlingit oral traditions surrounding the structures, as well as archaeological research into their origins and purpose… We really wanted to show the importance of these rock piles and what they are to Tlingit culture and their story. The Tlingit passed on their culture through stories and dance. Some of the stories about the beginning of their history have to do with these rock piles. And we wanted to show that,” Stegen said. “We also wanted to go up there and study and potentially date the cairns. So, it’s also a very science-based documentary.”
(Previous post about the same people and project: http://rockpiles.blogspot.com/2014/03/tlingit-cairns-in-southeast-alaska.html)
Stone Foundations and Tent Platforms in NW Coast Archaeology:
Tlingit house with stone wall foundation. “Photograph of a Taku village homes, photo likely by Partridge, circa 1887. Village site was located on the mainland across from Douglas Island, south of present-day Juneau”: SHI Archives, Richard Wood collection. http://goo.gl/hH9Pfl
    “In general, we may underestimate large scale constructions in stone.  Burial cairns and mounds (one of Darcy’s consists of 18 dump-trucks worth of soil), rock wall defensive sites, trench embankments, canoe runs, fish traps, and of course, clam gardens, all involved massive deployments of stone, with associated labour investments and creation of a durable built environment. Anyway, we’ve recently been running into enigmatic rock structures on the central coast and Quadra Island, and in particular, the possibility of dwelling structures partially based on stone walls.  So it’s quite cool to run across the picture above from the SHI photo collections, showing a Taku Tlingit house from the historic period, sitting on a platform which has a stone wall as a foundation.
     For an archaeological example, above is a picture of a rock wall which happened to be exposed in a tiny rivulet.  The wall itself is partially constructed of large stone tools, which is cool in its own right. It continues out of frame to right and left, but is not exposed in the same way. Behind the wall, a small test unit showed the stone structure three courses deep, with a definite edge, and abundant charcoal and lithics organized into thin strata like living surfaces.  Preliminary dating shows use around 1500 years ago. Anyway, it’s an example of what we think may be a habitation structure of some kind built on a stone foundation, perhaps even with low stone walls as a perimeter.  You can see numerous additional examples of similar walls in the pictures below, also from the SHI archive…It’s also not just about houses...you can see rock platforms built to support tents…The bottom picture shows a similar uppermost tidal rock platform which contained abundant charcoal dated to, if memory serves, to about 4,000 years ago.  This is from Duncan McLaren’s Hakai Ancient Landscapes project which I get to volunteer on from time to time.
So, stone: an under-appreciated construction material on the NW Coast? If you have examples of unorthodox stone constructions then leave a comment, or send me an email."

Look at the Ancestors Here

     “Father Gerónimo Boscana…defines Acjachema as a pyramidal form of moving matter (Boscana). Boscana observes further that “Others apply the term to things inanimate, such as a pile of stones, etc., but the most correct signification of the word is understood as having relation to a heap of animated things (Boscana 84)… In traditional Acjachemen thought, however, rocks animate and alive. They pulse with the vibration of all their minerals, with all their ayelkwi, or knowledge-power. Rocks hold as much cultural significance as the sky holds stars. Rocks walk themselves to ceremonies. They sing across valleys. They burst into fire and they hum to themselves. Through rocks, the ancestors speak and the spirits appear…
Ancient boundary monument No. XVI was a simple pile of stones, early 1850s. From Jacobo Blanco’s Memoria de la Sección Mexicana de la Comisión Internacional de Límites entre México y los Estados Unidos que Restableció los Monumentos de El Paso al Pacífico. 1901.
    ...Louie continues to explain his views towards rocks, offering an example of a rock pile. “Your average person could walk by a pile of rocks and say ‘Oh that’s a pile of rocks,’” he explains. “A native person could walk by, and say ‘Look at the ancestors here.’” His words remind me about the story of Acjachema, the place where the ancestors slept all together. Rocks, similarly stacked and piled, are ancestors too. I wonder about the ancient rock cairns that people have occasionally seen in the southern California hills, the cairns that the Lobos describe in their report. Are these groups of ancestors perhaps tapping into something deeper, into the story of Acjachema?” ~ From: “A Celebration of Ceremony Among the Juaneño Band of Mission Indians, Acjachemen Nation,” Julia Edith Rigby (2012)
Chinigchinich by Friar Geronimo Boscana (tr. by Alfred Robinson) [1846]

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Deer Head Uktena

   A recent communication with Tommy Hudson finally enabled me to track down this story that refers back to this old Rock Piles post about a possible Serpent - with what may be a deer's head on a snake's body - on a stone, shown above, found in "a stone wall" in Roxbury CT:
  “At dawn, when the grandmother stared into the dark âsĭ (Women's Moon Lodge), she saw that her grandson shape-shifted into a giant horned serpent, or Uktena, curled up like a fetus within the cramped space. With human legs and deer head attached to a reptilian body, the partly transformed snake boy slithered through the settlement to a deep pool at a nearby bend in the river, where he disappeared under the water. Being a medicine person like her grandson, the grandmother eventually entered the pool too (Mooney 1900:304).” - Myths of the Cherokee. Nineteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, 1897-98. Part 1, Government Printing Office: Washington D.C.
   J. Loubser includes the quote in The Socio-Economic and Ritual Contexts of Petroglyph Boulders in the Southeastern United States. His paper can be read here: 

Fig. 2: Representation of nested townhouses on the southeastern Indian landscape.
"The Cherokees believed that thunder was a horned snake within the rain which connected the sky vault, the human-built houses on earth, and the underground or underwater townhouses (Mooney 1900:481)."

Monday, February 23, 2015

"Stone walls" on a formerly-fire-tended Cultural Landscape?

     Is there any reason Indigenous People might have a need to build the stonework we have been taught to think of as "stone walls" (and associated piles of "stone cleared from agricultural fields")?  
      What role(s) could Indigenous made and maintained rows of stone serve on a Pre-contact Indigenous Fire Tended Cultural Landscape?
      Would any pragmatic function of Indigenous stonework be considered a “dire need,” such as a need for fuel breaks in a crowded corner of Turtle Island?
      Knowing Indigenous People here did not separate the Spiritual world from "the land we eat from,"can patterns of stacking along with inclusions of possible effigies be observed in the stonework that is similar to designs found in other Indigenous artwork, infusing the Spiritual attributes, the Manitou, of various magical beings such the Great Serpent or Great Turtle (or the animals who also live and "eat" there - bears, deer and birds etc.) into the object itself, things like ceramic pottery, other rock art, beading and so much more?
More here: Stone walls on a formerly-fire-tended Cultural Landscape?