Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Ohio's Archaic Heritage: Burial Customs #NativeAmerican #Ohio #history

Burial Mounds by Allison Bruning
Ohio's Archaic Heritage:
Burial Customs

Welcome back to Ohio's Archaic Heritage. We have walked alongside our ancestors as they had to adapt to the climatic and geographical changes that beset upon them after the glaciers retreated back into Canada. As we learned in the previous posts, humans adapted quite well to their glacial free environment. They not only developed the atlatl and new hunting techniques but also began to settle down into a semi-sedentary lifestyle. Their sedentary lifestyle also lead to social changes that would remain a part of the Native American culture. These cultural changes included the adaptation of animal clans, participation in religious ceremonies, sacred objects, tribal affiliations, and a semi-nomadic lifestyle based on the seasons. 

The change from a Paleoindian to Archaic lifestyle did not happen overnight but was a gradual transition that occurred from the Early Archaic period to the Late Archaic period. The first Archaic Native Americans to have dwelt on the Black River Watershed in Ohio arrived on Lake Erie's southern shore around 6,500 years ago. Known as Canesadooharie or River of Many Pearls by the Wyandot Nation, the Black River is a twelve mile long river in Northern Ohio whose mouth meets Lake Erie. It is considered part of Saint Lawrence Watershed and runs to the Atlantic Ocean via Lake Erie, Niagara River, and Lake Ontario. It was this group of Archaic Native Americans that were first to proficiently harvest roots, berries, tubers, leaves, and nuts. They were also the first group to cultivate squash. We will talk later about early cultivation. 

Another group of Archaic Native Americans that is very well known in Ohio are the Glacial or Gravel
The Zimmerman Kame Site in Hardin County, Ohio
Kame Native Americans. The Glacial Kame Native Americans occupied Ohio between 8000 BC to 1000 BC. Archaeological records show this was a large tribe with villages spanning throughout southern Ontario, Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. The first Glacial Kame site discovered in Ohio occurred in 1856 near the village of Ridgeway in Hardin County, Ohio. The group was named Glacial Kame because they buried their dead in glacial kames, small hills of gravel, and sand deposited by glaciers. Archaeologists discovered Archaic 380 burials, which they removed from the site. Relics alongside the bodies included heavy copper beads, sole and saucer shaped ornaments of shell, masks made from skulls of wolves and bears and images of birds carved from hard slate. Hardin County has many Archaic Archaeological sites.

One of the most significant changes from Paleoindian to Archaic lifestyles was the burial of the dead. Every Archaic culture had developed their own scared rituals of burying their dead. Where the dead were buried was based on clan, family or social status. The Archaic people chose a specific site to bury their dead and would bring their dead to that site even if it meant it was miles away from where that person had died. Large cemeteries were established throughout Ohio and were used for extended period of time.  For example, The University of Toledo archaeologists found 18 burial pits from the Williams site along the Maumee River that had been in use from 850 to 380 B.C. That's nearly 500 years! These cemeteries were often in the form of burial mounds. Burial mounds were constructed by the entire community. We will talk more about burial mounds in our next series: The Moundbuilders. 

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