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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Native American Exchange System Continued

The American Indian participants in the great exchange system which extended well beyond the Mississippi Valley, were not only long-distance traders of deep religious convictions, but also experienced managers and husbandmen of wide resource areas. They were also productive agriculturalists.

Their ancestors had hunted very large game. A favored implement of theirs was the atlatl; the spear thrower. They and their ancestors honored and profited from the atlatl for perhaps eight thousand years. That implement was more practical than the bow and arrow in taking the mega-fauna hunted by their ancestors In recent decades I have heard the very word 'atlatl' to chants and songs to the great drums and smaller ones too.

Our ancestors called these Native Americans 'The Mound Builders.'
Too many of those ancestors of ours thought that the great earthworks and the contents found('mined')by them could not have been produced or constructed by anyone related to the Indians they knew of.

The evidence is strong, at least for the Adena and Hopewell periods, that their 'religion' was strong and important. Just the form and contents of their earth-works are highly suggestive of that evidence. The the strikingly attractive grave goods of those mounds is what our ancestors mined. Oral histories of tribal peoples of today point to those religious beliefs of old. Physical remains have also informed us of those beliefs. A very great number of those objects were not tools, cooking, or hunting objects. They were objects of great art, craft, and beauty to accompany their honored dead.

It may prove useful to remember that not everyone does or has categorized the objects and doings of reality as we do.

For example, the famous mounds, to which we have tended to attribute a religious purpose may well have been more important as focal points of trade and commerce. What we have called cemeteries may have been centers of social gatherings, schools, or scientific centers. There is much we do not know.

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