The Problem of Ohio Mounds
Cyrus Thomas

Robert Rowe, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.


By Cyrus Thomas.




Historical evidence


Similarity of the arts and customs of the mound-builders to
those of Indians


Tribal divisions

Similarity in burial customs

Removal of the flesh before burial

Burial beneath or in dwellings

Burial in a sitting or squatting posture

The use of fire in burial ceremonies

Similarity of the stone implements and ornaments of various

Mound and Indian pottery


Stone graves and what they teach


The Cherokees as mound-builders


The Cherokees and the Tallegwi


No other ancient works of the United States have become so widely
known or have excited so much interest as those of Ohio. This is
due in part to their remarkable character but in a much greater
degree to the "Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley," by
Messrs. Squier and Davis, in which these monuments are described
and figured.

The constantly recurring question, "Who constructed these works?"
has brought before the public a number of widely different
theories, though the one which has been most generally accepted is
that they originated with a people long since extinct or driven
from the country, who had attained a culture status much in
advance of that reached by the aborigines inhabiting the country
at the time of its discovery by Europeans.

The opinion advanced in this paper, in support of which evidence
will be presented, is that the ancient works of the State are due
to Indians of several different tribes, and that some at least of
the typical works, were built by the ancestors of the modern
Cherokees. The discussion will be limited chiefly to the latter
proposition, as the limits of the paper will not permit a full
presentation of all the data which might be brought forward in
support of the theory, and the line of argument will be
substantially as follows:

FIRST. A brief statement of the reasons for believing that the
Indians were the authors of all the ancient monuments of the
Mississippi Valley and Gulf States; consequently the Ohio mounds
must have been built by Indians.

SECOND. Evidence that the Cherokees were mound builders after
reaching their historic seats in East Tennessee and western North
Carolina. This and the preceding positions are strengthened by the
introduction of evidence showing that the Shawnees were the
authors of a certain type of stone graves, and of mounds and other
works connected therewith.

THIRD. A tracing of the Cherokees, by the mound testimony and by
tradition, back to Ohio.

FOURTH. Reasons for believing that the Cherokees were the Tallegwi
of tradition and the authors of some of the typical works of Ohio.



Space will not permit any review here of the various theories in
regard to the builders, or of the objections made to the theory
that they were Indians, or of the historical evidence adducible in
support of this theory. Simple declaration on these points must

The historical evidence is clear and undisputed that when the
region in which the mounds appear was discovered by Europeans it
was inhabited by Indians only. Of their previous history nothing
is known except what is furnished by vague and uncertain
traditions or inferred from the study of their languages and
customs. On the other hand there is no historical or other
evidence that any other race or people than the Indians ever
occupied this region, or any part of it, previous to its discovery
by Europeans at the close of the fifteenth century.

We enter the discussion, therefore, with at least a presumption in
favor of the conclusion that these works were built by the
Indians--a presumption which has not received the consideration
it deserves; indeed, it is so strong that it can be overcome only
by showing that those mounds, or the specimens of art found in
them, which were unquestionably the work of the builders, indicate
an advancement in skill and knowledge entirely beyond that reached
by the Indians previous to contact with Europeans. But all the
genuine discoveries so far made in the explorations of the mounds
tend to disprove this view.

If it can be shown that tribes occupying the mound region at the
time they were first visited by Europeans used mounds, and in some
cases built them, it will be a fair inference that all these
structures are due to the same race until the contrary is proved.

The objection urged by many that the Indian has always been a
restless nomad, spurning the restraints of agriculture, has been
effectually answered, especially by Mr. Lucien Carr. [Footnote:
Mounds of the Mississippi Valley Historically Considered.] History
also bears us out in the assertion that at the time of the
discovery nine tenths of the tribes in the mound district had
fixed seats and local habitations, depending to a great extent for
sustenance upon the cultivation of the soil. So far as the
southern districts, now comprising the Gulf States, are concerned,
it goes further and asserts over and over again that the tribes of
that section were mound-builders when first encountered by the
whites. To verify this assertion it is only necessary to read the
chronicles of De Soto's expedition and the writings of the pioneer
travelers and French missionaries to that section. This evidence
proves conclusively not only that this had been a custom, but that
it was continued into the eighteenth century.

Such statements as the following, attested by various
contemporaneous authors, should suffice on this point:

The caciques of this country make a custom of raising near their
dwellings very high hills, on which they sometimes build their
houses. [Footnote: Biedma, Hist. Coll. La. vol. 2, p. 105.]

The Indians try to place their villages on elevated sites, but
inasmuch as in Florida there are not many sites of this kind where
they can conveniently build, they erect elevations themselves in
the following manner, etc. [Footnote: Garcilasso de la Vega, Hist.
Fla., ed. 1723, p. 69. ]

The chief's house stood near the beach upon a very high mount made
by hand for defense. [Footnote: Gentlemen of Elvas. Bradford Club
series, vol. 5, p. 23.]

The last, which was on Tampa Bay, was most likely near Phillippi's
Point, where tradition fixes De Soto's landing place, and where a
number of mounds and shell heaps have been found. One of these,
opened by Mr. S. T. Walker,[Footnote: Smithsonian Report, 1879
(1880), pp. 392-422.] was found to consist of three layers. In the
lower were "no ornaments and but little pottery, but in the middle
and top layers, especially the latter, nearly every cranium was
encircled by strings of colored beads, brass and copper ornaments;
trinkets, etc. Among other curious objects were a pair of scissors
and a fragment of looking-glass."

An earlier exploration is thus described: "The governor [De Soto]
opened a large temple in the woods, in which were buried the
chiefs of the country, and took from it a quantity of pearls which
were spoiled by being buried in the ground." [Footnote: Biedma.
Hist. Coll. La., vol. 2, p. 101.]

Another chronicler says: "This house stood on a high mound
(cerro), similar to others we have already mentioned. Round about
it was a roadway sufficiently broad for six men to walk abreast."
[Footnote: Garcilasso de la Vega, Hist. Fla., ed. 1723, p. 139.]
(There are good reasons for believing this to be the Etowah mound
near Cartersville, Ga.) [Footnote: Thomas, Mag. Am. Hist., May,
1884, pp. 405, 406.]

The town of Talise is described as being strong in the extreme,
inclosed by timber and earth. [Footnote: Garcilasso, Hist. Fla.,
p. 144.]

Herrera speaks of "a town of 400 houses, and a large square, where
the cacique's house stood upon a mound made by art." [Footnote:
Hist. Am., Stoven's transl., vol. 6, p. 5.]

Father Gravier [Footnote: Shea's Early French Voyages, pp. 126,
136.] speaks of mounds of the Akansea and "Tounika" villages.

M. La Harpe says "the cabins of the Yasous, Courois, Offogoula,
and Ouspie [along the Yazoo about 1700] are dispersed over the
country upon mounds of earth made with their own hands, from which
it is inferred that these nations are very ancient and were
formerly very numerous, although at the present time they hardly
number two hundred and fifty persons." [Footnote: Lu Rarpe, Hist.
Coll. La., part 3, p. 106, New York, 1851.] (This seems to imply
that there were numerous mounds unoccupied.) "In one of the
Natches villages," says Dumont, "the house of the chief was placed
on a mound." [Footnote: Mem. Hist. La., vol. 2, p. 109.]

Another writer says: "When the chief [of the Natchez] dies they
demolish his cabin and then raise a new mound on which they build
the cabin of him who is to replace him in this dignity."
[Footnote: La Petit, Hist. Coll. La., vol. 3, pp. 141, 142, note.
Also Lettres edifiantes et curioses, vol. 1, pp. 260, 261. See Du
Pratz. Histoire Louisiane, 1738, vol. 3, p. 16.]

According to Bartram, in the Cherokee town of Stico the council-
house was on a mound, as also at Cowe. [Footnote: Bartram's
Travels, pp. 345, 367.]

The same writer says [Footnote: Ibid., p. 516.] the Choctaws
raised mounds over their dead in case of communal burials.

It is apparent from Jefferson's language [Footnote: Notes on
Virginia. 4th Am ed., 1801, pp. 142-147.] that the burial mounds
of Virginia were of Indian origin.

These references, which might be indefinitely multiplied, are
sufficient to bear out the assertion that history testifies that
the southern tribes were accustomed to build mounds.

It is a matter of surprise that so little is to be found regarding
the mounds in the older records of the Northern States. There is
but one statement in the Jesuit Relations and no mention in the
writings of the Recollects, so far has been found, and yet one of
the missionaries must have passed a good portion of the winter of
1700 in the very midst of the Cahokia group. Colden notes that "a
round hill was sometimes raised over the grave in which a corpse
had been deposited." [Footnote: Hist. Five Nations, introd., vol.
1, London, 1755, p. 16.] Carver noticed ancient earthworks on the
Mississippi near Lake Pepin, but knew nothing of their origin.
[Footnote: Travels, ed. 1796, Phila., p. 36; ed. 1779, London, p.
57.] Heckewelder observed some of these works near Detroit, which
he was informed had been built by the Indians. An account of them
was published in a Philadelphia periodical in 1780 or 1790. This
description was afterwards given briefly in his "History of the
Manners and Customs of the Indian Nations."

These older records mention facts which afford a reasonable
explanation of some of the ancient monuments found in the northern
section of the country; as for example the communal or tribal
burials, where the bones and remains of all the dead of a village,
region, or tribe, who had died since the last general burial
(usually a period of eight to ten years) were collected and
deposited in one common grave. This method, which was followed by
some southern tribes, has been described by Bartram, [Footnote:
Travels (1791), p.516.] Dumont, [Footnote: Memoires Hist. La.,
vol. 1, p. 246.] Romans, [Footnote: Nat. and Civil Hist. Fla., pp.
88-90.] and others, but most fully by Jean deo Brebeuf. [Footnote:
In his account "Des ceremonies qu'ils [les Hurons] gardent en leur
sepulture et de leur deuil," and "De la Feste solemnelle des
morts."--Jesuit Relations for 1636, pp. 129-139. See translation
in Thomas's "Burial Mounds of the Northern Section of the United
States," Fifth Annual Rept. Bur. Ethnol., p. 110. See also
Lafitau, "Moeurs des Sauvages," vol. 2, pp. 447-455.]

It is a well-attested fact that northern as well as southern
Indians were accustomed to erect palisades around their villages
for defense against attack.

Some evidences of mound building by northern Indians may be found
in the works of comparatively modern writers. Lewis C. Beck
[Footnote: Gazetteer of the States of Ill. and Mo., p. 308.]
affirms that "one of the largest mounds in this country has been
thrown upon this stream [the Osage] within the last thirty or
forty years by the Osages, near the great Osage village, in honor
of one of their deceased chiefs." It is probable this is the mound
referred to by Major Sibley, [Footnote: Featherstoubaugh, Excur.
through Slave States, p. 70.] who says an Osage Indian informed
him that a chief of his tribe having died while all the men were
off on a hunt, he was buried in the usual manner, with his
weapons, etc., and a small mound was raised over him. When the
hunters returned this mound was enlarged at intervals, every man
carrying materials, and so the work went on for a long time, and
the mound, when finished, was dressed off to a conical form at the
top. The old Indian further said he had been informed, and
believed, that all the mounds had a similar origin.

Lewis and Clarke mention not only the erection of a mound over a
modern chief, but also numerous earthworks, including mounds,
which were known to be the work of contemporaneous Indians.
[Footnote: Travels, Dublin ed., 1817, pp. 30, 31, 55, 67, 115,
117, 122-125, etc.]

L. V. Bierce [Footnote: Historical Reminiscences of Summit County,
Ohio, p. 128.] states that when Nicksaw, an old Wyandotte Indian
of Summit County, was killed, "the Indians buried him on the
ground where he fell, and according to their custom raised a mound
over him to commemorate the place and circumstances of his death.
His grave is yet to be seen."

Another writer says: "It is related by intelligent Indian traders
that a custom once prevailed among certain tribes, on the burial
of a chief or brave of distinction, to consider his grave as
entitled to the tribute of a portion of earth from each passer-by,
which the traveler sedulously carried with him on his journey.
Hence the first grave formed a nucleus around which, in the
accumulation of the accustomed tributes thus paid, a mound was
soon formed." [Footnote: Smith's History of Wisconsin, vol. 3,
1834, p. 245.]

The same author says [Footnote: Ibid., p. 262.] the tumulus at the
Great Butte des Morts (Great Hill of the Dead) was raised over the
bones of Outagami (Fox Indian) warriors slain in battle with the
French in 1706.

According to a Winnebago tradition, mounds in certain localities
in Wisconsin were built by that tribe, and others by the Sacs and
Foxes.[Footnote: Wis. Hist. Soc., Rept. I, pp. 88, 89.]

There is another Indian tradition, apparently founded on fact,
that the Essex mounds in Clinton County, Mich., are the burying
places of those killed in a battle between the Chippewas and
Pottawatomies, which occurred not many generations ago. [Footnote:
Smithsonian Report, part 1, 1884, p. 848.]



The historical evidence is, as we have seen, conclusive that some
of the tribes of Indians were mound builders.

The explorations by the Bureau of Ethnology in the South and West
have also brought to light so many corroborative facts that the
question may be considered settled. These will shortly be given to
the public; only a few can be noticed here, and that in a very
brief and general way.

As the country was inhabited only by Indians at the time of its
discovery, and as we have no evidence, unless derived from the
mounds, of its having ever been occupied by any other people,
every fact indicating a similarity between the arts, customs, and
social life of the mound-builders and those of the red Indians, is
an evidence of the identity of the two peoples. The greater the
number of these resemblances, the greater the probability of the
correctness of the theory, so long as we find nothing
irreconcilable with it.

Architecture.--One of the first circumstances which strike the
mind of the archaeologist who carefully studies these works as
being very significant, is the entire absence of any evidence in
them of architectural knowledge and skill approaching that
exhibited by the ruins of Mexico and Central America, or even
equaling that exhibited by the Pueblo Indians.

It is true that truncated pyramidal mounds of large size and
somewhat regular proportions are found in certain sections, and
that some of these have ramps or roadways leading up to them. Yet
when compared with the pyramids or teocalli of Mexico and Yucatan
the differences in the manifestations of architectural skill are
so great, and the resemblances are so faint and few, as to furnish
no grounds whatever for attributing the two classes of works to
the same people. The facts that the works of the one people
consist chiefly of wrought and sculptured stone, and that such
materials are wholly unknown to the other, forbid the idea of any
relationship between the two. The difference between the two
classes of monuments indicates a wide divergence--a complete step
--in the culture status.

Mexico, Central America, and Peru are dotted with the ruins of
stone edifices, but in all the mound-building area of the United
States not the slightest vestige of one attributable to the people
who erected the earthen structures is to be found. The utmost they
attained in this direction was the construction of stone cairus,
rude stone--walls, and vaults of cobble-stones and undressed
blocks. This fact is too significant to be overlooked in this
comparison, and should have its weight in forming a conclusion,
especially when it is backed by numerous other important

Though hundreds of groups of mounds marking the sites of ancient
villages are to be seen scattered over the Mississippi Valley and
Gulf States yet nowhere can there be found an ancient house. The
inference is therefore irresistible that the houses of the mound-
builders were constructed of perishable materials; consequently
that the builders were not sufficiently advanced in art to use
stone or brick in building, or else that they lived a roving,
restless life that would not justify the time and trouble
necessary to erect such permanent structures. As the last
inference is irreconcilable with the magnitude and extent of many
groups of these remains we are forced to the conclusion that the
first is true.

One chief objection to the Indian origin of these works is, as
already stated, that their builders must have been sedentary,
depending largely upon agriculture for subsistence. It is evident,
therefore, that they had dwellings of some sort, and as remains of
neither stone nor brick structures are found which could have been
used for this purpose, we must assume that their dwellings were
constructed of perishable material, such as was supplied in
abundance by the forest region in which they dwelt. It is
therefore apparent that in this respect at least the dwellings of
mound-builders were similar to those of Indians. But this is not
all that can be said in reference to the houses of the former, for
there still remain indications of their shape and character,
although no complete examples are left for inspection. In various
places, especially in Tennessee, Illinois, and southeast Missouri,
the sites of thousands of them are yet distinctly marked by little
circular depressions with rings of earth around them. These
remains give the form and size of one class of dwellings that was
common in the regions named. Excavations in the center usually
bring to light the ashes and hearth that mark the place where the
fire was built, and occasionally unearth fragments of the vessels
used in cooking, the bones of animals on whose flesh the inmates
fed, and other articles pertaining to domestic use.

During the explorations of the Bureau in southeastern Missouri and
Arkansas, finding the remains of houses in low, flat mounds was a
common occurrence. Although the wood in most cases had
disappeared, what had not been converted to coals and ashes having
rotted away, yet the size and form, and, in part, the mode of
construction, were clearly indicated. The hard-tramped, circular,
earthen floor gave the size and form; the numerous fragments of
burnt clay forming a layer over the floor--often taken by
explorers for brick-revealed the method of plastering their
dwellings; the charred remains of grass and twigs showed that it
had been strengthened by this admixture; the impressions left on
the inner face of these lumps of burnt plastering revealed the
character of the lathing, which was in some cases branches and
twigs, but in others split cane. The roof was thatched with grass
or matting, the charred remains of which were found in more than
one instance. In probably nine cases out of ten it was apparent
these dwellings had been burned. This was found to be due to the
custom of burying the dead in the floor and burning the dwelling
over them, covering the remains with dirt often before the fire
had ceased burning.

As a general rule the strata are found in this order: (1) a top
layer of soil from 1 foot to 2 feet thick; (2) a layer of burnt
clay from 3 to 12 inches thick (though usually varying from 4 to 8
inches) and broken into lumps, never in a uniform, unbroken layer;
immediately below this (3) a thin layer of hardened muck or dark
clay, though this does not always seem to be distinct. At this
depth in the mounds of the eastern part of Arkansas are usually
found one or more skeletons.

Take, for example, the following statement by Dr. Edward Palmer in
regard to these beds:

As a general and almost universal rule, after removing a foot or
two of top soil, a layer of burnt clay in a broken or fragmentary
condition would be found, sometimes with impressions of grass or
twigs, and easily crumbled, but often hard, and stamped,
apparently, with an implement made of split reeds of comparatively
large size. This layer was often a foot thick, and frequently
burned to a brick-red or even to clinkers. Below this would be
found more or less ashes, and often 6 inches of charred grass
immediately over the skeletons. These skeletons were found lying
in all directions, some with the face up, others with it down, and
others on the side. With each of these were one or more vessels of

Remains of rectangular houses were also discovered, though much
less frequent than other forms. These consisted of three rooms,
two in front and one in rear. For example, Dr. Palmer found in a
broad platform like elevation not more than 3 feet high the
remains of a house of this form which he traced by the burnt clay.
The lines of the upright walls were very apparent, as also the
clay which must have fallen from them, and which raised the outer
marginal lines considerably higher than the inner area. Dr. Palmer

The fire must have been very fierce, and the clay around the edges
was evidently at some height above the door, as I judge from the
irregular way in which it is scattered around the margins.

Excavations in the areas showed that they were covered with a
layer of burnt clay, uneven and broken; immediately below this a
layer of ashes 6 inches thick, and below this black loam. On these
areas large trees were growing, one a poplar 3 feet in diameter.
Below one of these floors were found a skeleton, some pottery, and
a pipe. A large oak formerly stood at this point, but it has been
blown down.

Subsequently the remains of another dwelling of precisely the same
form, that is, two square rooms joined and a third of the same
size immediately behind these two, were discovered in the same
region by Colonel Norris. In this case remnants of the upright
posts and reed lathing forming the walls were found, also the clay

Prof. G. C. Swallow [Footnote: 8th Rept. Peabody Museum, 1875, pp.
17, 18.] describes a room formed of poles, lathed with split cane,
plastered with clay both inside and out, which he found in a mound
in southeastern Missouri. Colonel Norris found parts of the
decayed poles, plastering, and other remains of a similar house in
a large mound in the same section.

From the statements of the early writers, a few of which are given
here, it is evident that the houses of the Indians occupying this
region when first visited by the whites were very similar to those
of the mound-builders.

La Harpe, speaking of the tribes in some parts of Arkansas, says:
"The Indians build their huts dome-fashion out of clay and reeds."
Schoolcraft says the Pawnees formerly built similar houses. In
Iberville's Journal [Footnote: Relation in Margry, Deconvertes,
4th part (March, 1699), p. 170] it is stated that the cabins of
the Bayogoulas were round, about 30 feet in diameter, and
plastered with clay to the height of a man. Adair says: "They are
lathed with cane and plastered with mud from bottom to top within
and without with a good covering of straw."

Henri de Tonty, the real hero of the French discoveries on the
Mississippi, says the cabins of the Tensas were square, with the
roof dome-shaped, and that the walls were plastered with clay to
the height of 12 feet and were 2 feet thick. [Footnote: Relation
of Henry de Tonty in Margry, Decouvertes, vol. 1, 1876, p. 600]

A description of the Indian square houses of this southern section
by Du Pratz [Footnote: Hist. La., vol. 2, French ed., 1758, pp.
173-175; English ed., 1764, p. 359.] is so exactly in point that I
insert a translation of the whole, passage:

The cabins of the natives are all perfectly square; none of them
are less than 15 feet in extent in every direction, but there are
some which are more than 30. The following is their manner of
building them: The natives go into the new forest to seek the
trunks of young walnut trees of 4 inches in diameter and from 18
to 20 feet long; they plant the largest ones at the four corners
to form the breadth and the dome; but before fixing the others
they prepare the scaffolding; it consists of four poles fastened
together at the top, the lower ends corresponding to the four
corners; on these four poles others are fastened crosswise at a
distance of a foot apart; this makes a ladder with four sides, or
four ladders joined together.

This done, they fix the other poles in the ground in a straight
line between those of the corners; when they are thus planted they
are strongly bound to a pole which crosses them within each side
[of the house]. For this purpose large splints of stalks are used
to tie them at the height of 5 or 6 feet, according to the size of
the cabin, which forms the walls; these standing poles are not
more than 15 inches apart from each other; a young man then mounts
to the end of one of the corner poles with a cord in his teeth; he
fastens the cord to the pole, and as he mounts within, the pole
bends, because those who are below draw the cord to bend the pole
as much as is necessary; at the same time another young man fixes
the pole of the opposite corner in the same way; the two poles
being thus bent at a suitable height, they are fastened strongly
and evenly. The same is done with the poles of the two other
corners as they are crossed over the first ones. Finally all the
other poles are joined at the point, which makes altogether the
figure of a bower in a summer-house such as we have in France.
After this work they fasten sticks on the lower sides or walls at
a distance of about 8 inches across, as high as the pole of which
I have spoken, which forms the length of the wall.

These sticks being thus fastened, they make mud walls of clay, in
which they put a sufficient amount of Spanish moss; these walls
are not more than 4 inches thick; they leave no opening but the
door, which is only 2 feet in width by 4 in height; there are some
much smaller. They then cover the frame-work which I have just
described with mats of reeds, putting the smoothest on the inside
of the cabin, taking care to fasten them together so that they are
well joined.

After this they make large bundles of grass, of the tallest that
can be found in the low lands, and which is 4 or 5 feet long; this
is put on in the same way as straw which is used to cover thatched
houses; the grass is fastened with large canes, and splints, also
of canes. When the cabin is covered with grass they cover all with
a matting of canes well bound together, and at the bottom they
make a ring of "bind-weeds" all around the cabin, then they trim
the grass evenly, and with this defense, however strong the wind
may be, it can do nothing against the cabin. These coverings last
twenty years without being repaired.

Numerous other references to the same effect might be given, but
these are sufficient to show that the remains found in the mounds
of the South are precisely what would result from the destruction
by fire of the houses in use by the Indians when first encountered
by Europeans.

It is admitted now by all archaeologists that the ancient works of
New York are attributable to Indians, chiefly to the Iroquois
tribes. This necessarily carries with it the inference that works
of the same type, for instance those of northern Ohio and eastern
Michigan, are due to Indians. It is also admitted that the mounds
and burial pits of Canada are due, at least in part, to the
Hurons. [Footnote: David Boyle, Ann. Rept. Canadian Institute,
1886-1887, pp. 9-17; Ibid., 1888, p. 57.]

Tribal divisions.--As the proofs that the mound-builders pertained
to various tribes often at war with each other are now too
numerous and strong to be longer denied, we may see in them
evidences of a social condition similar to that of the Indians.

Similarity in burial customs.--There are perhaps no other remains
of a barbarous or unenlightened people which give us so clear a
conception of their superstitions and religious beliefs as do
those which relate to the disposal of their dead. By the modes
adopted for such disposal, and the relics found in the receptacles
of the dead, we are enabled not only to understand something of
these superstitions and beliefs, but also to judge of their
culture status and to gain some knowledge of their arts, customs,
and modes of life.

The mortuary customs of the mound-builders, as gleaned from an
examination of their burial mounds, ancient cemeteries, and other
depositories of their dead, present so many striking resemblances
to those of the Indians when first encountered by the whites, as
to leave little room for doubt regarding their identity.
[Footnote: Evidence bearing on this point will be found in the
paper on The Burial Mounds of the Northern Sections, by C. Thomas,
in the Fifth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology.] Nor is
this similarity limited to the customs in the broad and general
sense, but it is carried down to the more minute and striking

Among the general features in which resemblances are noted are the

The mound-builders were accustomed to dispose of their dead in
many different ways; their modes of sepulture were also quite
varied. The same statements will apply with equal force to the

"The commonest mode of burial among North American Indians," we
are informed by Dr. H. C. Yarrow, [Footnote: First Annual Report
Bureau of Ethnology, Smithsonian Institution, 1879-'80 (1881), p.
93.] "has been that of interment in the ground, and this has taken
place in a number of ways." The different ways he mentions are, in
pits, graves, or holes in the ground; in stone graves or cists; in
mounds; beneath or in cabins, wigwams, houses or lodges, and in

The most common method of burial among the mound-builders was by
inhumation also, and all the different ways mentioned by Dr.
Yarrow as practiced by the Indians were in vogue among the former.
It was supposed for a long time that their chief and almost only
place of depositing their dead was in the burial mounds, but more
thorough explorations have revealed the fact that near most mound
villages are cemeteries, often of considerable extent.

The chief value of this fact in this connection is that it forms
one item of evidence against the theory held by some antiquarians
that the mound-builders were Mexicans, as the usual mode of
disposing of the dead by the latter was cremation. [Footnote:
Clavigero, Hist. Mex., Cullen's transl., I, 325; Torquemada,
Monarq. Ind., I, p.60, etc.] According to Brasseur de Bourbourg
the Toltecs also practiced cremation. [Footnote: H.H. Bancroft,
Native Races, vol. 2, 1882, p. 609.]

REMOVAL OF THE FLESH BEFORE BURIAL.--This practice appears to have
been followed quite generally by both Indians and mound-builders.

That it was followed to a considerable extent by the mound
builders of various sections is shown by the following evidence:

The confused masses of human bones frequently found in mounds show
by their relation to each other that they must have been gathered
together after the flesh had been removed, as this condition could
not possibly have been assumed after burial in their natural
state. Instances of this kind are so numerous and well known that
it is scarcely necessary to present any evidence in support of the
statement. The well-known instance referred to by Jefferson in his
"Notes on Virginia" [Footnote: Fourth Am. ed., 1801, p. 143; p.
146, in 8th ed.] is one in point. "The appearance," he tells us,
"certainly indicates that it [the barrow] has derived both origin
and growth from the customary collections of bones and deposition
of them together."

Notices of similar deposits have been observed as follows: In
Wisconsin, by Mr. Armstrong; [Footnote: Smithsonian Rept., 1879,
p. 337] in Florida, by James Bell [Footnote: Smithsonian Rept.,
1881, p. 636.] and Mr. Walker; [Footnote: Smithsonian Rept., 1879,
p. 398] in Cass County, Ill., by Mr. Snyder; [Footnote:
Smithsonian Rept., 1881, p. 573.] in Georgia, by C. C. Jones.
[Footnote: Antiq. So. Inds., p. 193.] Similar deposits have also
been found by the assistants of the Bureau of Ethnology in
Wisconsin, Illinois, northern Missouri, North Carolina, New York,
and Arkansas.

Another proof of this custom was observed by Mr. J. D. Middleton
and Colonel Morris in Wisconsin, northeastern Missouri, and
Illinois. In numerous mounds the skeletons were found packed
closely side by side, immediately beneath a layer of hard, mortar-
like substance. The fact that this mortar had completely filled
the interstices, and in many cases the skulls also, showed that it
had been placed over them while in a plastic state, and as it must
soon have hardened and assumed the condition in which it was
found, it is evident the skeletons had been buried after the flesh
was removed.

As additional evidence we may mention the fact that in stone
graves, so small that the body of a full-grown individual could
not by any possible means be pressed into them, the bones of adult
individuals are sometimes found. Instances of this kind have
occurred in Tennessee, Missouri, and southern Illinois.

From personal examination I conclude that most of the folded
skeletons found in mounds were buried after the flesh had been
removed, as the folding, to the extent noticed, could not possibly
have been done with the flesh on them, and the positions in most
cases were such that they could not have been assumed in
consequence of the decay of the flesh and settling of the mound.

The partial calcining of the bones in vaults and under layers of
clay where the evidence shows that the fire was applied to the
outside of the vault or above the clay layer, can be accounted for
only on the supposition that the flesh had been removed before

Other proofs that this custom prevailed among the mound builders
in various sections of the country might be adduced.

That it was the custom of a number of Indian tribes, when first
encountered by the whites, and even down to a comparatively modern
date, to remove the flesh before final burial by suspending on
scaffolds, depositing in charnel-houses, by temporary burial, or
otherwise, is well known to all students of Indian habits and

Heckewelder says, "The Nanticokes had the singular custom of
removing the bones from the old burial place to a place of deposit
in the country they now dwell in." [Footnote: Hist. Manners and
Customs Ind. Nations, p. 75.]

The account by Breboeuf of the communal burial among the Hurons
heretofore referred to is well known. [Footnote: Jesuit Relations
for 1636. Transl. in Fifth Ann. Rept. Bur. Ethnol., p. 110.] The
same custom is alluded to by Lafitau. [Footnote: Moeurs des
Sauvages, vol. 2, pp. 420-435.] Bartram observed it among the
Choctaws. [Footnote: Travels, p. 516.] It is also mentioned by
Bossu, [Footnote: Travels through Louisiana, p. 298.] by
Adair,[Footnote: Hist. Am. Indians, p. 183.] by Barnard
Romans,[Footnote: Nat. Hist. Florida, p. 90.] and others.

Burial beneath or in dwellings.--The evidence brought to light by
the investigations of the Bureau of Ethnology, regarding a custom
among the mound-builders of Arkansas and Mississippi, of burying
in or under their dwellings, has been given, in part, in an
article published in the Magazine of American History. [Footnote:
February, 1884.] It is a well-attested historical fact that such
was also the custom of the southern Indian tribes. Bartram affirms
it to have been in vogue among the Muscogulgees or
Creeks,[Footnote: Travels, p. 505.] and Barnard Romans says it was
also practiced by the Chickasaws.[Footnote: Nat. Hist. Florida, p.
71] C C. Jones says that the Indians of Georgia "often interred
beneath the floor of the cabin, and then burnt the hut of the
deceased over his head;"[Footnote: Antiq. So. Indians, p. 203.]
which furnishes a complete explanation of the fact observed by the
Bureau explorers, mentioned in the article before alluded to.

Burial in a sitting or squatting posture.--It was a very common
practice among the mound-builders to bury their dead in a sitting
or squatting posture. The examples of this kind are too numerous
and too well known to require repetition. I may add that the yet
unpublished reports of the Bureau show that this custom prevailed
to a certain extent in Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, North Carolina,
Missouri, Ohio, and West Virginia. Instances have also been
observed elsewhere. [Footnote: Jones's Antiq. So. Indians (Georgia
and Florida). pp. 183-185.] That the same custom was followed by
several of the Indian tribes is attested by the following
authorities: Bossu, [Footnote: Travels, vol. 1, p. 251.] Lawson,
[Footnote: Hist. Carolina, p. 182.] Bartram, [Footnote: Travels,
p. 515.] and Adair.[Footnote: Hist. Am. Indians, p. 182.]

The use of fire in burial ceremonies.--Another observance in which
the burial customs of mound-builders corresponded with those of
Indians was the use of fire in funeral ceremonies. The evidences
of this custom are so common in mounds as to lead to the
supposition that the mound-builders were in the habit of offering
human sacrifices to their deities. Although charred and even
almost wholly consumed human bones are often found, showing that
bodies or skeletons were sometimes burned, it does not necessarily
follow that they were offered as sacrifices. Moreover, judging
from all the data in our possession, the weight of evidence seems
to be decidedly against such conclusion.

Among the Indians fire appears to have been connected with the
mortuary ceremonies in several ways. One use of it was to burn the
flesh and softer portions of the body when removed from the bones.
[Footnote: Barnard Romans, Nat. Hist. Florida, p. 90.] Breboeuf
also mentions its use in connection with the communal burial of
the Hurons. [Footnote: Jesuit Relations for 1636, p. 135.]
According to M. B. Kent [Footnote: Yarrow's Mort. Customs N. A.
Indians, 1st Ann. Rept. Bur. Ethnology (1881), P. 95.] it was the
ancient custom of the Sacs and Foxes to burn a portion of the food
of the burial feast to furnish subsistence for the spirit on its

Pickett says [Footnote: Hist. Alabama, 3d ed., vol. 1, p. 140.]
the Choctaws were in the habit of killing and cutting up their
prisoners of war, after which the parts were burned. He adds
further, in reference to their burial ceremonies: [Footnote:
Ibid., p. 142] "From all we have heard and read of the Choctaws,
we are satisfied that it was their custom to take from the bone-
house the skeletons, with which they repaired in funeral
procession to the suburbs of the town, where they placed them on
the ground in one heap, together with the property of the dead,
such as pots, bows, arrows, ornaments, curiously-shaped stones for
dressing deer skins, and a variety of other things. Over this heap
they first threw charcoal and ashes, probably to preserve the
bones, and the next operation was to cover all with earth. This
left a mound several feet high." This furnishes a complete
explanation of the fact that uncharred human bones are frequently
found in Southern mounds imbedded in charcoal and ashes.

Similarity of their stone implements and ornaments.--In addition
to the special points of resemblance between the works of the two
peoples, of which a few only have been mentioned, we are warranted
in asserting that in all respects, so far as we can trace them
correctly, there are to be found strong resemblances between the
habits, customs, and arts of the mound-builders and those of the
Indians previous to their change by contact with Europeans. Both
made use of stone implements, and so precisely similar are the
articles of this class that it is impossible to distinguish those
made by the one people from those made by the other. So true is
this that our best and most experienced archaeologists make no
attempt to separate them, except where the conditions under which
they are found furnish evidence for discrimination. Instead of
burdening these pages with proofs of these statements by reference
to particular finds and authorities, I call attention to the work
of Dr. C. C. Abbott on the handiwork in stone, bone, and clay of
the native races of the northern Atlantic sea board of America,
entitled "Primitive Industry." As the area embraced in this work,
as remarked by its author, "does not include any territory known
to have been permanently occupied by the so-called mound-
builders," the articles found here must be ascribed to the Indians
unless, as suggested by Dr. Abbott, some of a more primitive type
found in the Trenton gravel are to be attributed to an earlier and
still ruder people. Examining those of the first class, which are
ascribed to the Indians, we observe almost every type of stone
articles found in the mounds and mound area; not only the rudely
chipped scrapers, hoes, celts, knives, and spear and arrow heads,
but also the polished or ground celts, axes, hammers, and chisels,
or gouges.

Here we also find drills, awls, and perforators, slick stones and
dressers, pipes of various forms and finish, discoidal stones and
net sinkers, butterflys tones and other supposed ceremonial
objects, masks or face figures and bird-shaped stones, gorgets,
totems, pendants, trinkets, etc. Nor does the resemblance stop
with types, but it is carried down to specific forms and finish,
leaving absolutely no possible line of demarkation between these
and the similar articles attributed to the mound-builders. So
persistently true is this that had we stone articles alone to
judge by, it is probable we should be forced to the conclusion, as
held by some writers, that the former inhabitants of that portion
of the United States east of the Rocky Mountains pertained to one
nation, unless possibly the prevalence of certain types in
particular sections should afford some data for tribal

This strong similarity of the stone articles of the Atlantic coast
to those of the mound area was noticed as early as 1820 by Caleb
Atwater, who, knowing that the former were Indian manufactures,
attributed the latter also to the same people although he held
that the mounds were the work of the ancestors of the civilized
nations of Mexico and Central America.

Mound and Indian Pottery.--The pottery of the mound-builders has
often been referred to as proof of a higher culture status, and of
an advance in art beyond that reached by the Indians. The vase
with a bird figure found by Squier and Davis in an Ohio mound is
presented in most works on American archaeology as an evidence of
the advanced stage of the ceramic art among the mound-builders;
but Dr. Rau, who examined the collection of these authors, says:

Having seen the best specimens of "mound" pottery obtained during
the survey of Messrs. Squier and Davis, I do not hesitate to
assert that the clay vessels fabricated at the Cahokia Creek were
in every respect equal to those exhumed from the mounds of the
Mississippi Valley, and Dr. Davis himself, who examined my
specimens from the first-named locality, expressed the same
opinion. [Footnote: Smithsonian Rept., 1866, p. 349.]

The Cahokia pottery which he found along the creek of that name
(Madison County, Ill.) he ascribes to Indians, and believes it to
be of comparatively recent origin.

Most of the mound pottery is mixed with pulverized shells, which
is also true of most Indian pottery. [Footnote: Dumont, Mem. Hist.
La., vol. 2, 1753, p. 271; Adair, Hist. Am. Indians, p. 424;
Loskiel, Gesell. der Miss., p. 70, etc.] Du Pratz says that "the
Natchez Indians make pots of an extraordinary size, cruses with a
medium-sized opening, jars, bottles with long necks holding two
pints, and pots or cruses for holding bear's oil;" [Footnote:
Hist. La., p. 79.] also that they colored them a beautiful red by
using ocher, which becomes red after burning.

As is well known, the bottle-shaped vase with a long neck is the
typical form of clay vessels found in the mounds of Arkansas and
southeastern Missouri, and is also common in the mounds and stone
graves of middle Tennessee. Those colored or ornamented with red
are often found in the mounds of the former sections. It is worthy
of notice in this connection that the two localities--near Saint
Genevieve, Mo., and near Shawneetown, Ill.--where so many
fragments of large clay vessels used in making salt have been
found, were occupied for a considerable time by the Shawnee
Indians. As will hereafter be shown, there are reasons for
believing this pottery was made by the Shawnees.

The statement so often made that the mound pottery, especially
that of Ohio, far excels that of the Indians is not justified by
the facts.

Much more evidence of like tenor might be presented here, as, for
example, the numerous instances in which articles of European
manufacture have been found in mounds where their presence could
not be attributed to intrusive burials, but the limits of the
paper will not admit of this. I turn, therefore, to the problem
before us, viz, "Who were the authors of the typical works of

As before stated, the answer is, "These works are attributable in
part at least to the ancestors of the modern Cherokees."

As a connecting link between what has been given and the direct
evidence that the Cherokees were mound-builders, and as having an
important bearing upon both questions, the evidence derived from
the box-shaped stone graves is introduced at this point.



In order to state clearly the argument based upon these works it
is necessary to present a brief explanation.

There are several forms and varieties of stone graves or cists
found in the mound area, some being of cobble stones, others of
slabs; some round, others polygonal; some dome-shaped, others
square, and others box shaped, or parallelograms. Reference is
made at present only to the last mentioned--the box shaped type,
made of stone slabs. If the evidence shows that this variety is
found only in certain districts, pertains to a certain class of
works, and is usually accompanied by certain types of art, we are
warranted in using it as an ethnic characteristic, or as
indicating the presence of particular tribes. If it can be shown
that graves of this form are found in mounds attributed to the so-
called mound-builders, and that certain tribes of Indians of
historic times were also accustomed to bury in them, we are
warranted in assuming that there was a continuity of custom from
the mound-building age to historic times, or that graves found in
the mounds are probably attributable to the same people (or allied
tribes) found using them at a later date. This conclusion will be
strengthened by finding that certain peculiar types of art are
limited to the regions where these graves exist, and are found
almost exclusively in connection with them.

These graves, as is well known, are formed of rough and unhewn
slabs or flat pieces of stone, thus: First, in a pit some 2 or 3
feet deep and of the desired dimensions, dug for the purpose, a
layer of stone is placed to form the floor; next, similar pieces
are set on edge to form the sides and ends, over which other slabs
are laid flat, forming the covering, the whole when finished
making a rude, box-shaped coffin or sepulcher. Sometimes one or
more of the six faces are wanting; occasionally the bottom
consists of a layer of water-worn bowlders; sometimes the top is
not a single layer of slabs, but other pieces are laid over the
joints, and sometimes they are placed shingle-fashion. These
graves vary in length from 14 inches to 8 feet, and in width from
9 inches to 3 feet.

It is not an unusual thing to find a mound containing a number of
those cists arranged in two, three, or more tiers. As a general
rule, those not in mounds are near the surface of the ground, and
in some instances even projecting above it. It is probable that no
one who has examined them has failed to note their strong
resemblance to the European mode of burial. Even Dr. Joseph Jones,
who attributes them to some "ancient race," was forcibly reminded
of this resemblance, as he remarks:

In looking at the rude stone coffins of Tennessee, I have again
and again been impressed with the idea that in some former age
this ancient race must have come in contact with Europeans and
derived this mode of burial from them. [Footnote: Aboriginal
Remains of Tennessee, pp. 34,35]

The presence of stone graves of the type under consideration in
the vicinity of the site of some of the "over hill towns" of the
Cherokees on the Little Tennessee River, presented a difficulty in
the way of the theory here advanced, as it is well known that the
Cherokees and Shawnees were inveterate enemies from time
immemorial. But by referring to Schoolcraft's History of the
Indians the following statement solves the riddle and confirms the

A discontented portion of the Shawnee tribe from Virginia broke
off from the nation, which removed to the Scioto country, in Ohio,
about the year 1730, and formed a town known by the name of
Lulbegrud, in what in now Clark County [Kentucky], about 30 miles
east of this place [Lexington]. This tribe left this country about
1730 and went to East Tennessee, to the Cherokee Nation.
[Footnote: Vol. 1, p. 301.]

Some years ago Mr. George E. Sellers discovered near the salt
spring in Gallatin County, Ill., on the Saline River, fragments of
clay vessels of unusually large size, which excited much interest
in the minds of antiquarians, not only because of the size of the
vessels indicated by the fragments, but because they appeared to
have been used by some prehistoric people in the manufacture of
salt and because they bore impressions made by some textile
fabric. In the same immediate locality were also discovered a
number of box-shaped stone graves. That the latter were the work
of the people who made the pottery Mr. Sellers demonstrated by
finding that many of the graves were lined at the bottom with
fragments of these large clay "salt pans." [Footnote: Popular
Science Monthly, vol. II, 1877, pp. 573-584.]

Mention of this pottery had been made long previously by J. M.
Peck in his "Gazetteer of Illinois." [Footnote: 1834, p. 52.]

He remarks that "about the Gallatin and Big Muddy Salines large
fragments of earthenware are very frequently found under the
surface of the earth. They appear to have been portions of large
kettles used, probably, by the natives for obtaining salt."

The settlement of the Shawnees at Shawneetown, on the Ohio River,
in Gallatin County, in comparatively modern times, is attested not
only by history but by the name by which the town is still known.
There is evidence on record that there was an older Shawneetown
located at the very point where this "salt-kettle" pottery and
these stone graves were found. This is mentioned in the American
State Papers [Footnote: Public Lands, Class VIII, vol.2, p. 103,
Gales and Seaton ed.] in the report relating to the famous claim
of the Illinois and Wabash Land Companies. The deed presented was
dated July 20, 1773, and recorded at Kaskaskia, September 2, 1773.
In this mention is made of the "ancient Shawnee town" on Saline
Creek, the exact locality of the stone graves and suit-kettle
pottery. The modern Indian village at Shawneetown on the Ohio
River had not then come into existence, and was but in its prime
in 1806, when visited by Thomas Ashe. [Footnote: Travels in
America, 1808, p. 265.]

As proof that the people of this tribe were in the habit of making
salt the following evidence is presented: Collins, in his "History
of Kentucky", [Footnote: Vol. 2, p. 55.] gives an account of the
capture and adventures of Mrs. Mary Ingals, the first white woman
known to have visited Kentucky. In this narrative occurs the
following statement:

The first white woman in Kentucky was Mrs. Mary Ingals, nee
Draper, who, in 1756 with her two little boys, her sister-in-law,
Mrs. Draper, and others was taken prisoner by the Shawnee Indians,
from her home on the top of the great Allegheny ridge, is now
Montgomery County, W. Va. The captives were taken down the
Kanawha, to the salt region, and, after a few days spent in making
salt, to the Indian village at the mouth of Scioto River.

By the treaty of Fort Wayne, June 7, 1803, between the Delawares,
Shawnees, and other tribes and the United States, it was agreed
that in consideration of the relinquishment of title to "the great
salt spring upon the Saline Creek, which falls into the Ohio below
the mouth of the Wabash, with a quantity of laud surrounding it,
not exceeding 4 miles square," the United States should deliver
"yearly, and every year for the use of said Indians, a quantity of
salt not exceeding 150 bushels." [Footnote: Treaties of United
States with Indian tribes, p. 97.]

Another very significant fact in this connection is that the
fragments of large earthen vessels similar in character to those
found in Gallatin County, Ill., have also been found in connection
with the stone graves of the Cumberland Valley, and, furthermore,
the impressions made by the textile fabrics show the same stitches
as do the former. Another place where pottery of the same kind has
been found is about the salt-lick near Saint Genevieve, Mo., a
section inhabited for a time by Shawnees and Delawares. [Footnote:
C.C. Royce in American Antiquarian, vol. 3, 1881, pp. 188, 189.]

Stone graves have been found in Washington County, Md. [Footnote:
Smithsonian Report for 1882 (1884), p. 797.] History informs us
that there were two Shawnee settlements in this region, one in the
adjoining county of Maryland (Allegany), and another in the
neighborhood of Winchester, Va. [Footnote: C. C. Royce in American
Antiquarian, vol. 3, 1881, p. 186. Virginia State Papers, 1. p.

Mr. W. M. Taylor [Footnote: Smithsonian Report for 1877, p. 307.
Mentions only known instance of mound with Delaware Village.]
mentions some stone graves of the type under consideration as
found on the Mahoning River, in Pennsylvania. An important item in
this connection is that these graves were in a mound. He describes
the mound as 35 feet in diameter and 5 feet high, having on one
side a projection 35 feet long of the same height as the mound.
Near by a cache was discovered containing twenty one iron
implements, such as axes, hatchets, tomahawks, hoes, and wedges.
He adds the significant statement that near the mound once stood
the Indian (Delaware) village of Kush-kush-kee.

Graves of the same type have been discovered in Lee County, Va.
[Footnote: Eleventh Report of the Peabody Museum, 1878, p. 208.]
Others have been found in a mound on the Tennessee side, near the
southern boundary of Scott County, Va. Allusion has already been
made to the occasional presence of the Shawnees in this region. In
the map of North America by John Senex, Chaonanon villages are
indicated in this particular section.

The presence of these graves in any part of Ohio can easily be
accounted for on the theory advanced, by the well-known fact that
both Shawnees and Delawares were located at various points in the
region, and during the wars in which they were engaged were moving
about from place to place; but the mention of a few coincidences
may not be out of place.

In the American Antiquarian for July, 1881, is the description of
one of these cists found in a mound in the eastern part of
Montgomery County. Mr. Royce, in the article already referred to,
states that there was a Shawnee village 3 miles north of Xenia, in
the adjoining county, on Mad River, which flows into the Miami a
short distance above the location of the mound.

Stone graves have been found in great numbers at various points
along the Ohio from Portsmouth to Ripley, a region known to have
been occupied at various times by the Shawnees.

Similar graves have been discovered in Ashland County. [Footnote:
Smithsonian Report for 1877, pp. 261-267.] These, as will be seen
by reference to the same report (page 504), are precisely in the
locality of the former Delaware villages.

The evidence is deemed sufficient to show that the Shawnees and
Delawares were accustomed to bury in stone graves of the type
under consideration, and to indicate that the graves found south
of the Ohio are to be attributed to the former tribe and those
north to both tribes.

As graves of this kind are common over the west side of southern
Illinois, from the month of the Illinois to the junction of the
Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, attention is called to some evidence
bearing on their origin.

Hunter, who traveled in the West, says that some of the Indians he
met with during his captivity buried their dead in graves of this

According to a statement made by Dr. Rau to Mr. C. C. Jones, and
repeated to me personally, "it is a fact well remembered by many
persons in this neighborhood [Monroe County, III.] that the
Indians who inhabited this region during the early part of the
present century (probably Kickapoos) buried their dead in stone
coffins." [Footnote: Antiquities So. Indians, p. 220.]

Dr. Shoemaker, who resided on a farm near Columbia, in 1861,
showed Dr. Rau, in one of his fields, the empty stone grave of an
Indian who had been killed by one of his own tribe and interred
there within the memory of some of the farmers of Monroe County.
An old lady in Jackson County informed one of the Bureau
assistants that she had seen an Indian buried in a grave of this

It is doubtful whether Dr. Rau is correct in ascribing these
graves to the Kickapoos, as their most southern locality appears
to have been in the region of Sangamon County. [Footnote:
Reynolds's Hist. Illinois, p. 20.] It is more probable they were
made by the Kaskaskias, Tamaroas, and Cahokias. Be this as it may,
it is evident that they are due to some of the tribes of this
section known as Illinois Indians, pertaining to the same branch
of the Algonquin family as the Shawnees and Delawares.

That the stone graves of southern Illinois were made by the same
people who built those of the Cumberland Valley, or closely allied
tribes, is indicated not only by the character of the graves but
by other very close and even remarkable resemblances in the
construction and contents as well as in the form and size of the
mounds; the presence of hut-rings in both localities, and the
arrangement of the groups.

Taking all the corroborating facts together there are reasonable
grounds for concluding that graves of the type now under
consideration, although found in widely-separated localities, are
attributable to the Shawnee Indians and their congeners, the
Delawares and Illinois, and that those south of the Ohio are due
entirely to the first named tribe. That they are the works of
Indians must be admitted by all who are willing to be convinced by

The fact that in most cases (except when due to the Delawares, who
are not known to have been mound-builders) the graves are
connected with mounds, and in many instances are in mounds,
sometimes in two, three, and even four tiers deep, proves beyond a
doubt that the authors of these graves were mound-builders.

The importance and bearing of this evidence does not stop with
what has been stated, for it is so interlocked with other facts
relating to the works of the "veritable mound-builders" as to
leave no hiatus into which the theory of a lost race or a "Toltec
occupation" can possibly be thrust. It forms an unbroken chain
connecting the mound-builders and historical Indians which no
sophistry or reasoning can break. Not only are these graves found
in mounds of considerable size, but they are also connected with
one of the most noted groups in the United States, namely, the one
on Colonel Tumlin's place, near Cartersville, Ga., known as the
Etowah mounds, of which a full description will be found in the
Fifth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology.

In the smallest of the three large mounds of this group were found
stone graves of precisely the type attributable, when found south
of the Ohio, to the Shawnees. They were not in a situation where
they could be ascribed to intrusive burials, but in the bottom
layer of a comparatively large mound with a thick and undisturbed
layer of hard-packed clay above them. It is also worthy of notice
that the locality is intermediate between the principal seat of
the Shawnees in the Cumberland Valley, and their extreme eastern
outposts in northeastern Georgia, where both tradition and stone
graves indicate their settlement. The tradition regarding this
settlement has been given elsewhere. [Footnote: Am. Antiq, vol. 7,
1885, p. 133]

In these graves were found the remarkable figured copper plates
and certain engraved shells, of which mention has been made by Mr.
W. H. Holmes [Footnote: Science, vol. 3, 1884, pp. 436-438.] and
by myself [Footnote: Ibid., pp. 779-785.] in Science. It is a
singular corroboration of the theory here advanced that the only
other similar copper plates were found at Lebanon, Tenn., by Prof.
F. W. Putnam; in a stone grave in a mound at Mill Creek, southern
Illinois, by Mr. Earle; in a stone grave in Jackson County, Ill.,
by Mr. Thing; in a mound of Madison County, Ill., by Mr. H. R.
Howland; and in a small mound at Peoria, Ill., by Maj. J. W.
Powell. All, except the specimens found by Professor Putnam and
Mr. Howland, were secured by the Bureau of Ethnology, and are now
in the National Museum.

There can be but little doubt that the specimens obtained from
simple stone graves by Professor Putnam and Mr. Thing are to be
attributed to Indian burials, but surely not to Indian

We have, therefore, two unbroken chains connecting the Indians of
historic times with the "veritable mound builders," and the facts
which form the links of these chains throw some additional light
on the history of that mysterious people, the Shawnees.

It may be stated here that in the report relating to the claim of
the Wabash Land Company [Footnote: American State Papers, Land
Affairs, Appendix, p. 20.] is a statement giving a list of
articles furnished the Indians, among which we notice nine ear
wheels. These we suppose to be the same as the spool shaped ear
ornaments found in stone graves and elsewhere.

The engraved shells also form a link which not only connects the
mound-builders with historic times but corroborates the view
advanced in regard to the Shawnees, and indicates also that the
Cherokees were mound-builders. But before introducing this we will
give the reasons for believing that the mounds of eastern
Tennessee and western North Carolina are due to the last-named



As the evidence on this point has to a large extent been presented
in my article on "Burial Mounds of the Northern Section,"
[Footnote: Fifth Ann. Rept. Bur Ethnol] also in articles published
in the Magazine of American History [Footnote: May, 1884, pp. 396-
407] and in the American Naturalist, [Footnote: Vol. 18, 1884, pp.
232-240] it will be necessary here only to introduce a few
additional items.

The iron implements which are alluded to in the above mentioned
articles also in Science, [Footnote: Science, vol. 3, 1884, pp.
308-310] as found in a North Carolina mound, and which analysis
shows were not meteoric, furnish conclusive evidence that the
tumulus was built after the Europeans had reached America; and as
it is shown in the same article that the Cherokees must have
occupied the region from the time of its discovery up to its
settlement by the whites it is more than probable they were the
builders. A figure of one of the pieces is introduced here.

[Illustration with caption: Fig I Part of an iron blade from a
North Carolina mound]

Additional and perhaps still stronger evidence, if stronger be
needed, that the people of this tribe were the authors of most of
the ancient works in western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee
is to be found in certain discoveries made by the Bureau
assistants in Monroe County, Tenn.

A careful exploration of the valley of the Little Tennessee River,
from the point where it leaves the mountains to its confluence
with the Holston, was made, and the various mound groups were
located and surveyed. These were found to correspond down as far
as the position of Fort London and even to the island below with
the arrangement of the Cherokee "over-hill towns" as given by
Timberlake in his map of the Cherokee country called "Over the
Hills," [Footnote: Memoirs, 1765] a group for each town, and in
the only available spots the valley for this distance affords. As
these mounds when explored yielded precisely the kind of ornaments
and implements used by the Cherokees, it is reasonable to believe
they built them.

Ramsey also gives a map, [Footnote: Annals of Tennessee, p. 376]
but his list evidently refers to a date corresponding with the
close of their occupancy of this section. Bartram [Footnote:
Travels, pp. 373.374.] gives a more complete list applying to an
earlier date. This evidently includes some on the Holston (his
"Cherokee") River and some on the Tellico plains. This corresponds
precisely with the result of the explorations by the Bureau as
will be seen when the report is published. Some three or four
groups were discovered in the region of Tellico plains, and five
or six on the Little Tennessee below Fort London and on the
Holston near the junction, one large mound and a group being on
the "Big Island" mentioned in Bartram's list.

The largest of these groups is situated on the Little Tennessee
above Fort London and corresponds with the position of the ancient
"beloved town of Chota" ("Great Chote" of Bartram) as located by
tradition and on both Timberlake's and Ramsey's maps. According to
Ramsey, [Footnote: Annals of Tennessee, p. 157] at the time the
pioneers, following in the wake of Daniel Boone near the close of
the eighteenth century, were pouring over the mountains into the
valley of the Watauga, a Mrs. Bean, who was captured by the
Cherokees near Watauga, was brought to their town at this place
and was bound, taken to the top of one of the mounds and about to
be burned, when Nancy Ward, then exercising in the nation the
functions of the Beloved or Pretty Woman, interfered and
pronounced her pardon.

During the explorations of the mounds of this region a peculiar
type of clay beds was found in several of the larger mounds. These
were always saucer shaped, varying in diameter from 6 to 15 feet,
and in thickness from 4 to 12 inches. In nearly every instance
they were found in series, one above another, with a layer of
coals and ashes between. The series usually consisted of from
three to five beds, sometimes only two, decreasing in size from
the lower one upward. These apparently marked the stages of the
growth of the mound, the upper one always being near the present

The large mound which is on the supposed site of Chota, and
possibly the one on which Mrs. Bean was about to be burned, was
thoroughly explored, and found to contain a series of these clay
beds, which always showed the action of fire. In the center of
some of these were found the charred remains of a stake, and about
them the usual layer of coals and ashes, but, in this instance,
immediately around where the stake stood were charred fragments of
human bones.

As will be seen, when the report which is now in the hands of the
printer is published, the burials in this mound were at various
depths, and there is nothing shown to indicate separate and
distinct periods, to lead to the belief that any of these were
intrusive in the true sense. On the contrary, the evidence is
pretty clear that all these burials were by one tribe or people.
By the side of nearly every skeleton were one or more articles, as
shell masks, engraved shells, shell pins, shell beads, perforated
shells, discoidal stones, polished celts, arrow-heads, spearheads,
stone gorgets, bone implements, clay vessels, or copper hawkbells.
The last were with the skeleton of a child found at the depth of 3
1/2 feet. They are precisely of the form of the ordinary sleigh-
bell of the present day, with pebbles and shell-bead rattles.

That this child belonged to the people to whom the other burials
are due will not be doubted by any one not wedded to a
preconceived notion, and that the bells are the work of Europeans
will also be admitted.

In another mound a little farther up the river, and one of a group
probably marking the site of one of the "over-hill towns," were
found two carved stone pipes of a comparatively modern Cherokee

The next argument is founded on the fact that in the ancient works
of the region alluded to are discovered evidences of habits and
customs similar to those of the Cherokees and some of the
immediately surrounding tribes.

In the article heretofore referred to allusion is made to the
evidence found in the mound opened by Professor Carr of its once
having supported a building similar to the council-house observed
by Bartram on a mound at the old Cherokee town Cowe. Both were
built on mounds, both were circular, both were built on posts set
in the ground at equal distances from each other, and each had a
central pillar. As tending to confirm this statement of Bartram's,
the following passage may be quoted, where, speaking of Colonel
Christian's march against the Cherokee towns in 1770, Ramsey
[Footnote: Annals of Tennessee, p. 169.] says that this officer
found in the center of each town "a circular tower rudely built
and covered with dirt, 30 feet in diameter, and about 20 feet
high. This tower was used as a council-house, and as a place for
celebrating the green-corn dance and other national ceremonials."
In another mound the remains of posts apparently marking the site
of a building were found. Mr. M. C. Read, of Hudson, Ohio,
discovered similar evidences in a mound near Chattanooga,
[Footnote: Smithsonian Rept, for 1867 (1868), p. 401.] and Mr.
Gerard Fowke has quite recently found the same thing in a mound at
Waverly. Ohio.

The shell ornaments to which allusion has been made, although
occasionally bearing designs which are undoubtedly of the Mexican
or Central American type, nevertheless furnish very strong
evidence that the mounds of east Tennessee and western North
Carolina were built by the Cherokees.

Lawson, who traveled through North Carolina in 1700, says
[Footnote: Hist. of N. C., Raleigh, reprint 1860, p. 315.] "they
[the Indians] oftentimes make of this shell [a certain large sea
shell] a sort of gorge, which they wear about their neck in a
string so it hangs on their collar, whereon sometimes is engraven
a cross or some odd sort of figure which comes next in their

According to Adair, the southern Indian priest wore upon his
breast "an ornament made of a white conch-shell, with two holes
bored in the middle of it, through which he ran the ends of an
otter-skin strap, and fastened to the extremity of each, a buck-
horn white button." [Footnote: Hist. Am. Indians, p. 84]

Beverly, speaking of the Indians of Virginia, says: "Of this shell
they also make round tablets of about 4 inches in diameter, which
they polish as smooth as the other, and sometimes they etch or
grave thereon circles, stars, a half-moon, or any other figure
suitable to their fancy." [Footnote: Hist. Virginia, London, 1705,
p. 58]

[Illustration with caption: FIG. 2. Engraved shell gorget from a
Tennessee mound.]

Now it so happens that a considerable number of shell gorgets have
been found in the mounds of western North Carolina and east
Tennessee, agreeing so closely with those brief descriptions, as
may be seen the figures of some of them given here (see Figs. 2
and 3), as to leave no doubt that they belong to the same type as
those alluded to by the writers whose words have just been quoted.
Some of them were found in the North Carolina mound from which the
iron articles were obtained and in connection with these articles.
Some of these shells were smooth and without any devices engraved
upon them, but with holes for inserting the strings by which they
were to be held in position; others were engraved with figures,
which, as will be seen by reference to the cuts referred to, might
readily be taken for stars and half-moons, and one among the
number with a cross engraved upon it.

The evidence that these relics were the work of Indians found in
possession of the country at the time of its discovery by
Europeans, is therefore too strong to be put aside by mere
conjectures or inferences. If they were the work of Indians, they
must have been used by the Cherokees and buried with their dead.
It is true that some of the engraved figures present a puzzling
problem in the fact that they bear unmistakable evidences of
pertaining to Mexican and Central American types, but no
explanation of this which contradicts the preceding evidences that
these shells had been in the hands of Indians can be accepted.

[Fig. 3: Shell gorget with engraving of coiled serpent]

In these mounds were also found a large number of nicely carved
soapstone pipes, usually with the stem made in connection with the
bowl, though some were without this addition, consisting only of
the bowl with a hole for inserting a cane or wooden stem. While
some, as will hereafter be shown, closely resemble one of the
ancient Ohio types, others are precisely of the form common a few
years back, and some of them have the remains of burnt tobacco yet
clinging to them.

Adair, in his "History of the North American Indians," [Footnote:
P. 433.] says:

"They mate beautiful stone pipes and the Cherokees the best of any
of the Indians, for their mountainous country contain many
different sorts and colors of soils proper for such uses. They
easily form them with their tomahawks and afterwards finish them
in any desired form with their knives, the pipes being of a very
soft quality till they are smoked with and used with the fire,
when they become quite hard. They are often full a span long and
the bowls are about half as large again as our English pipes. The
fore part of each commonly runs out with a sharp peak 2 or 3
fingers broad and a quarter of an inch thick."

Not only were pipes made of soapstone found in these mounds, but
two or three were found precisely of the form mentioned by Adair,
with the fore part running out in front of the bowl (see Fig. 5,
p. 39).

Jones says: [Footnote: Antiq. So. Indians, p. 400.]

It has been more than hinted at by at least one person whose
statement is entitled to every belief, that among the Cherokees
dwelling in the mountains there existed certain artists whose
professed occupation was the manufacture of stone pipes, which
were by them transported to the coast and there bartered away for
articles of use and ornament foreign to and highly esteemed among
the members of their own tribe.

This not only strengthens the conclusions drawn from the presence
of such pipes in the mounds alluded to, but may also assist in
explaining the presence of the copper and iron ornaments in them.

During the fall of 1886 a farmer of east Tennessee while examining
a cave with a view to storing potatoes in it during the winter
unearthed a well preserved human skeleton which was found to be
wrapped in a large piece of cane matting. This, which measures
about 6 by 4 feet, with the exception of a tear at one corner is
perfectly sound and pliant and has a large submarginal stripe
running around it. Inclosed with the skeleton was a piece of cloth
made of flax, about 14 by 20 inches, almost uninjured but
apparently unfinished. The stitch in which it is woven is
precisely that imprinted on mound pottery of the type shown in
Fig. 96 in Mr. Holmes's paper on the mound-builders' textile
fabrics reproduced here in Fig. 4. [Footnote: Fifth Ann. Rept.
Bur. Ethnol., p. 415, Fig. 96.]

[Illustration with caption: FIG. 4. Twined fabric impressed on a
piece of pottery obtained from a mound in Jefferson County,

Although the earth of the cave contains salts which would aid in
preserving anything buried in it, these articles can not be
assigned to any very ancient date, especially when it is added
that with them were the remains of a dog from which the skin had
not all rotted away.

These were presumably placed here by the Cherokees of modern
times, and they form a link not easily broken between the
prehistoric and historic days.

It is probable that few persons after reading this evidence will
doubt that the mounds alluded to were built by the Cherokees. Let
us therefore see to what results this leads.

In the first place it shows that a powerful and active tribe in
the interior of the country, in contact with the tribes of the
North on one side and with those of the South on the other, were
mound-builders. It is reasonable to conclude, therefore, that they
had derived this custom from their neighbors on one side or the
other, or that they had, to some extent at least, introduced it
among them. Beyond question it indicates that the mound-building
era had not closed previous to the discovery of the continent by
Europeans. [Footnote: Since the above was in type one of the
assistants of the Ethnological Bureau discovered in a small mound
in east Tennessee a stone with letters of the Cherokee alphabet
rudely carved upon it. It was not an intensive burial, hence it is
evident that the mound must have been built since 1820, or that
Guess was not the author of the Cherokee alphabet.]



The ancient works of Ohio, with their "altar mounds," "sacred
enclosures," and "mathematically accurate" but mysterious circles
and squares, are still pointed to as impregnable to the attacks of
this Indian theory. That the rays of light falling upon their
origin are few and dim, is admitted; still, we are not left wholly
in the dark.

If the proof be satisfactory that the mounds of the southern half
of the United States and a portion of those of the Upper
Mississippi Valley are of Indian origin, there should be very
strong evidence in the opposite direction in regard to those of
Ohio to lead to the belief that they are of a different race. Even
should the evidence fail to indicate the tribe or tribes by whom
they were built, this will not justify the assertion that they are
not of Indian origin.

If the evidence relating to these works has nothing decidedly
opposed to the theory in it, then the presumption must be in favor
of the view that the authors were Indians, for the reasons
heretofore given. The burden of proof is on those who deny this,
and not on those who assert it.

It is legitimate, therefore, to assume, until evidence to the
contrary is produced, that the Ohio works were made by Indians.

The geographical position of the defensive works connected with
these remains indicates, as has been often remarked by writers on
this subject, a pressure from northern hordes which finally
resulted in driving the inhabitants of the fertile valleys of the
Miami, Scioto, and Muskingum, southward, possibly into the Gulf
States, where they became incorporated with the tribes of that
section. [Footnote: Force: "To what race did the mound-builders
belong?" p. 74, etc.] If this is assumed as correct it only tends
to confirm the theory of an Indian origin.

But the decision is not left to mere assumption and the
indications mentioned, as there are other and more direct
evidences bearing upon this point to be found in the works of art
and modes of burial in this region. That the mound-builders of
Ohio made and used the pipe is proven by the large number of pipes
found in the mounds, and that they cultivated tobacco may
reasonably be inferred from this fact.

The general use of the pipe among the mound-builders is another
evidence of their relation to the Indians; while, on the other
hand, this fact and the forms of the pipes indicate that they were
not connected with the Nahua, Maya, or Pueblo tribes.

Although varied indefinitely by the addition of animal and other
figures, the typical or simple form of the pipe of the Ohio mound-
builders appears to have been that represented by Squier and Davis
[Footnote: Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley, 1847, p.
179.] in their Fig. 68; and by Rau in Smithsonian Contributions to
Knowledge, No. 287. [Footnote: 1876, p. 47, Fig. 177.] The
peculiar feature is the broad, flat, and slightly-curved base or
stem, which projects beyond the bowl to an extent usually equal to
the perforated end. Reference has already been made to the
statement by Adair that the Cherokees were accustomed to carve,
from the soft stone found in the country, "pipes, full a span
long, with the fore part commonly running out with a short peak
two or three fingers broad and a quarter of an inch thick." But he
adds further, as if intending to describe the typical form of the
Ohio pipe, "on both sides of the bowl lengthwise." This addition
is important, as it has been asserted [Footnote: Young
Mineralogist and Antiquarian, 1885, No. 10. p. 79.] that no
mention can be found of the manufacture or use of pipes of this
form by the Indians, or that they had any knowledge of this form.

E. A. Barber says: [Footnote: Am. Nat., vol. 16, 1882, pp. 265,

The earliest stone pipes from the mounds were always carved from a
single piece, and consist of a flat curved base, of variable
length and width, with the bowl rising from the center of the
convex side (Anc. Mon., p. 227).

The typical mound pipe is the Monitor form, as it may be termed,
possessing a short, cylindrical urn, or spool-shaped bowl, rising
from the center of a flat and slightly-curved base. [Footnote: For
examples of this form see Rau: Smithsonian Contributions to
Knowledge, No. 287, p. 47, Fig. 177.]

Accepting this statement as proof that the "Monitor" pipe is
generally understood to be the oldest type of the mound-builders'
pipe, it is easy to trace the modifications which brought into use
the simple form of the modern Indian pipe. For example, there is
one of the form shown in Fig. 5, from Hamilton County, Ohio;
another from a large mound in Kanawha Valley, West Virginia;
[Footnote: Science. 1884, vol. 3, p. 619.] several taken from
Indian graves in Essex County, Mass.; [Footnote: Abbott, Prim.
Industry, 1881, Fig. 313, p. 319; Bull. Essex Inst., vol. 3, 1872,
p. 123.] another found in the grave of a Seneca Indian in the
valley of the Genesee; [Footnote: Morgan, League of the Iroquois,
p. 356.] and others found by the representatives of the Bureau of
Ethnology in the mounds of western North Carolina.

[Illustration with caption: FIG. 5. Pipe from Hamilton County,

So far, the modification consists in simply shortening the forward
projection of the stem or base, the bowl remaining perpendicular.
The next modification is shown in Fig. 6, which represents a type
less common than the preceding, but found in several localites,
as, for example, in Hamilton County, Ohio; mounds in Sullivan
County, east Tennessee (by the Bureau); and in Virginia.
[Footnote: Rau: Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge, No. 287,
p. 50, Fig. 190.] In these, although retaining the broad or winged
stem, we see the bowl assuming the forward slope and in some
instances (as some of those found in the mounds in Sullivan
County, Tenn.) the projection of the stem is reduced to a simple
rim or is entirely wanting.

[Illustration with caption: FIG. 6. Pipe from Hamilton County,

[Illustration with caption: FIG. 7. Pipe from Sullivan County,

The next step brings us to what may be considered the typical form
of the modern pipe, shown in Fig. 8. This pattern, according to
Dr. Abbott, [Footnote: Prim. Industry, 1861, p. 329.] is seldom
found in New England or the Middle States, "except of a much
smaller size and made of clay." He figures one from Isle of Wight
County, Va., "made of compact steatite." A large number of this
form were found in the North Carolina mounds, some with stems
almost or quite a foot in length.

[Illustration with caption: FIG. 8. Pipe from Caldwell County,
North Carolina.]

It is hardly necessary to add that among the specimens obtained
from various localities can be found every possible gradation,
from the ancient Ohio type to the modern form last mentioned.
There is, therefore, in this peculiar line of art and custom an
unbroken chain connecting the mound-builders of Ohio with the
Indians of historic times, and in the same facts is evidence,
which strengthens the argument, disconnecting the makers from the
Mexican and Central American artisans.

As this evidence appears to point to the Cherokees as the authors
of some of the typical mounds of Ohio, it may be as well to
introduce here a summary of the data which bear upon this

Reasons which are thought well-nigh conclusive have already been
presented for believing that the people of this tribe were mound-
builders, and that they had migrated in pre-Columbian times from
some point north of the locality in which they were encountered by
Europeans. Taking up the thread of their history where it was
dropped, the following reasons are offered as a basis for the
conclusion that their home was for a time on the Ohio, and that
this was the region from which they migrated to their historic

As already shown, their general movement in historic times, though
limited, has been southward. Their traditions also claim that
their migrations previous to the advent of the whites had been in
the same direction from some point northward, not indicated in
that given by Lederer, but in that recorded by Haywood, from the
valley of the Ohio. But it is proper to bear in mind that the
tradition given by Lederer expressly distinguishes them from the
Virginia tribes, which necessitates looking more to the west for
their former home. Haywood connects them, without any authority,
with the Virginia tribes, but the tradition he gives contradicts
this and places them on the Ohio.

The chief hostile pressure against them of which we have any
knowledge was from the Iroquois of the north. This testimony is
further strengthened by the linguistic evidence, as it has been
ascertained that the language of this tribe belongs to the
Iroquoian stock. Mr. Horatio Hale, a competent authority on this
subject, in an article on Indian migrations published in the
American Antiquarian, [Footnote: Am. Antiquarian, vol. 5, 1883, p.
26] remarks as follows:

Following the same course of migration from the northeast to the
southwest, which leads us from the Hurons of eastern Canada to the
Tuscaroras of central North Carolina, we come to the Cherokees of
northern Alabama and Georgia. A connection between their language
and that of the Iroquois has long been suspected. Gallatin, in his
"Synopsis of Indian Languages," remarks on this subject: "Dr.
Barton thought that the Cherokee language belonged to the Iroquois
family, and on this point I am inclined to be of the same opinion.
The affinities are few and remote, but there is a similarity in
the general termination of the syllables, in the pronunciation and
accent, which has struck some of the native Cherokees."

The difficulty arising from this lack of knowledge is now removed,
and with it all uncertainty disappears. The similarity of the two
tongues, apparent enough in many of their words, is most
strikingly shown, as might be expected, in their grammatical
structure, and especially in the affixed pronouns, which in both
languages play so important a part.

More complete vocabularies of the Cherokee language than have
hitherto been accessible have recently come into possession of the
Bureau of Ethnology, and their study serves to confirm the above
conclusion that the Cherokees are an offshoot of Iroquoian stock.

On the other hand, the testimony of the mounds all taken together
or considered generally (if the conclusion that the Cherokees were
the authors of the North Carolina and East Tennessee mounds be
accepted) seems to isolate them from all other mound-building
people of that portion of the United States east of the Rocky
Mountains. Nevertheless there are certain remains of art which
indicate an intimate relation with the authors of the stone
graves, as the engraved shells, while there are others which lead
to the opinion that there was a more intimate relation with the
mound-builders of Ohio, especially of the Scioto Valley. One of
these is furnished by the stone pipes so common in the Ohio
mounds, the manufacture of which appears also to have been a
favorite pursuit of the Cherokees in both ancient and modern

In order to make the force of this argument clear it is necessary
to enter somewhat further into details. In the first place, nearly
all of the pipes of this type so far discovered have been found in
a belt commencing with eastern Iowa, thence running eastward
through northern Illinois, through Indiana, and embracing the
southern half of Ohio; thence, bending southward, including the
valley of the Great Kanawha, eastern Tennessee, and western North
Carolina, to the northern boundary of Georgia. It is not known
that this type in any of its modifications prevailed or was even
in use at any point south of this belt. Pipes in the form of birds
and other animals are not uncommon, as may be seen by reference to
Pl. XXIII of Jones's Antiquities of the Southern Indians, but the
platform is a feature wholly unknown there, as are also the
derivatives from it. This is so literally true as to render it
strange, even on the supposition here advanced; only a single one
(near Nashville, Tenn.), so far as known, having been found in the
entire South outside of the Cherokee country.

This fact, as is readily seen, stands in direct opposition to the
idea advanced by some that the mound-builders of Ohio when driven
from their homes moved southward, and became incorporated with the
tribes of the Gulf States, as it is scarcely possible such sturdy
smokers as they must have been would all at once have abandoned
their favorite pipe.

Some specimens have been found north and east of this belt,
chiefly in New York and Massachusetts, but they are too few to
induce the belief that the tribes occupying the sections where
they were found were in the habit of manufacturing them or
accustomed to their use; possibly the region of Essex, Mass., may
prove to be an isolated and singular exception.

How can we account for the fact that they were confined to this
belt except upon the theory that they were made and used by a
single tribe, or at most by two or three cognate tribes? If this
be admitted it gives as a result the line of migration of the
tribe, or tribes, by whom they were made; and the gradual
modification of the form indicates the direction of the movement.

In the region of eastern Iowa and northern Illinois, as will be
seen by reference to the Proceedings of the Davenport Academy of
Natural Sciences [Footnote: Vol. 1, 1876, Pl. IV.] and the
Smithsonian Report for 1882, [Footnote: Smithsonian Report for
1882 (1884), Figs. 4-8, pp. 689-692] the original slightly-carved
platform base appears to be the only form found.

Moving eastward from that section, a break occurs, and none of the
type are found until the western border of Ohio is reached,
indicating a migration by the tribe to a great distance. From this
point eastward and over a large portion of the State, to the
western part of West Virginia, the works of the tribe are found in
numerous localities, showing this to have long been their home.

In this region the modifications begin, as heretofore shown, and
continue along the belt mentioned through West Virginia,
culminating in the modern form in western North Carolina and East

As pipes of this form have never been found in connection with the
stone graves, there are just grounds for eliminating the Shawnees
from the supposed authors of the Ohio works. On the other hand,
the engraved shells are limited almost exclusively to the works of
the Shawnees and Cherokees (taking for granted that the former
were the authors of the box-shaped stone graves south of the Ohio
and the latter of the works in western North Carolina and East
Tennessee), but are wanting in the Ohio mounds. It follows,
therefore, if the theory here advanced (that the Cherokees
constructed some of the typical works of Ohio) be sustained, that
these specimens of art are of Southern origin, as the figures
indicate, and that the Cherokees began using them only after they
had reached their historical locality.

Other reasons for eliminating the Shawnees and other Southern
tribes from the supposed authors of the typical Ohio works are
furnished by the character, form, and ornamentation of the pottery
of the two sections, which are readily distinguished from each

That the Cherokees and Shawnees were distinct tribes, and that the
few similarities in customs and art between them were due to
vicinage and intercourse are well-known historical facts. But
there is nothing of this kind to forbid the supposition that the
former were the authors of some of the Ohio works. Moreover, the
evidence that they came from a more northern locality, added to
that furnished by the pipes, seems to connect them with the Ohio
mound-builders. In addition to this there is the tradition of the
Delawares, given by Heckewelder, which appears to relate to no
known tribe unless it be the Cherokees. Although this tradition
has often been mentioned in works relating to Indians and kindred
subjects, it is repeated here that the reader may judge for
himself as to its bearing on the subject now under consideration:

The Lenni Lenape (according to the tradition handed down to them
by their ancestors) resided many hundred years ago in a very
distant country in the western part of the American continent. For
some reason which I do not find accounted for, they determined on
migrating to the eastward, and accordingly set out together in a
body. After a very long journey and many nights' encampments
[Footnote: "Many Nights' encampment" is a halt of one year at a
place.] by the way, they at length arrived on the Namaesi-Sipu,
[Footnote: The Mississippi or The River of Fish; Namaes, a fish,
and Sipu a river.] where they fell in with the Mengwe, [Footnote:
The Iroquois, or Five Nations.] who had likewise emigrated from a
distant country, and had struck upon this river somewhat higher
up. Their object was the same with that of the Delawares; they
were proceeding on to the eastward, until they should find a
country that pleased them. The spies which the Lenape had sent
forward for the purpose of reconnoitring, had long before their
arrival discovered that the country east of the Mississippi was
inhabited by a very powerful nation who had many large towns built
on the great rivers flowing through their land. Those people (as I
was told) called themselves Talligew or Tallgewi. Many wonderful
things are told of this famous people. They are said to have been
remarkably tall and stout, and there is a tradition that there
were giants among them, people of a much larger size than the
tallest of the Lenape. It is related that they had built to
themselves regular fortifications or intrenchments, from whence
they would sally out, but were generally repulsed. I have seen
many of the fortifications said to have been built by them, two of
which, in particular, were remarkable. One of them was near the
mouth of the river Huron, which empties itself into the Lake St.
Clair, on the north side of that lake, at the distance of about 20
miles northeast of Detroit. This spot of ground was, in the year
1776, owned and occupied by a Mr. Tucker. The other works,
properly intrenchments, being walls or banks of earth regularly
thrown up, with a deep ditch on the outside, were on the Huron
River, east of the Sandusky, about six or eight miles from Lake
Erie. Outside of the gateway of each of these two intrenchments,
which lay within a mile of each other, were a number of large flat
mounds in which, the Indian pilot said, were buried hundreds of
the slain Talligewi, whom I shall hereafter, with Colonel Gibson,
call Alligewi. Of these intrenchments Mr. Abraham Steiner, who was
with me at the time when I saw them, gave a very accurate
description, which was published at Philadelphia in 1789 or 1790,
in some periodical work the name of which I can not at present

When the Lenape arrived on the banks of the Mississippi they sent
a message to the Alligewi to request permission to settle
themselves in their neighborhood. This was refused them, but they
obtained leave to pass through the country and seek a settlement
farther to the eastward. They accordingly began to cross the
Namaesi-Sipu, when the Alligewi, seeing that their numbers were so
very great, and in fact they consisted of many thousands, made a
furious attack upon those who had crossed, threatening them all
with destruction, if they dared to persist in coming over to their
side of the river. Fired at the treachery of these people, and the
great loss of men they had sustained, and besides, not being
prepared for a conflict, the Lenapi consulted on what was to be
done; whether to retreat in the best manner they could, or to try
their strength, and let the enemy see that they were not cowards,
but men, and too high-minded to suffer themselves to be driven off
before they had made a trial of their strength and were convinced
that the enemy was too powerful for them. The Mengwe, who had
hitherto been satisfied with being spectators from a distance,
offered to join them, on condition that, after conquering the
country, they should be entitled to share it with them; their
proposal was accepted, and the resolution was taken by the two
nations, to conquer or die.

Having thus united their forces the Lenape and Mengwe declared war
against the Alligewi, and great battles were fought in which many
warriors fell on both sides. The enemy fortified their large towns
and erected fortifications, especially on large rivers and near
lakes, where they were successfully attacked and sometimes stormed
by the allies. An engagement took place in which hundreds fell,
who were afterwards buried in holes or laid together in heaps and
covered over with earth. No quarter was given, so that the
Alligewi at last, finding that their destruction was inevitable if
they persisted in their obstinacy, abandoned the country to the
conquerors and fled down the Mississippi River, from whence they
never returned.

The war which was carried on with this nation lasted many years,
during which the Lenape lost a great number of their warriors,
while the Mengwe would always hang back in the rear leaving them
to face the enemy. In the end the conquerors divided the country
between themselves. The Mengwe made choice of the lands in the
vicinity of the great lakes and on their tributary streams, and
the Lenape took possession of the country to the south. For a long
period of time, some say many hundred years, the two nations
resided peacefully in this country and increased very fast. Some
of their most enterprising huntsmen and warriors crossed the great
swamps, and falling on streams running to the eastward followed
them down to the great bay river (meaning the Susquehanna, which
they call the great bay river from where the west branch falls
into the main stream), thence into the bay itself, which we call
Chesapeake. As they pursued their travels, partly by land and
partly by water, sometimes near and at other times on the great
salt-water lake, as they call the sea, they discovered the great
river which we call the Delaware.

This quotation, although not the entire tradition as given by
Heckewelder, will suffice for the present purpose.

The traces of the name of these mound-builders, which are still
preserved in the name "Allegheny," applied to a river and the
mountains of Pennsylvania, and the fact that the Delawares down to
the time Heckewelder composed his work called the Allegheny River
"Allegewi Sipu," or river of the Allegewi, furnish evidence that
there is at least a vein of truth in this tradition. If it has any
foundation in fact there must have been a people to whom the name
"Tallegwi" [Footnote: There appears to be no real foundation for
the name Allegewi, this form being a mere supposition of Colonel
Gibson, suggested by the name the Lenape applied to the Allegheny
River and Mountains.] was applied, for on this the whole tradition
hangs. Who were they? In what tribe and by what name shall we
identify them? That they were mound-builders is positively
asserted, and the writer explains what he means by referring to
certain mounds and inclosures, which are well known at the present
day, which he says the Indians informed him were built by this

It is all-important to bear in mind the fact that when this
tradition was first made known, and the mounds mentioned were
attributed to this people, these ancient works were almost unknown
to the investigating minds of the country. This forbids the
supposition that the tradition was warped or shaped to fit a
theory in regard to the origin of these antiquities.

Following the tradition it is fair to conclude, notwithstanding
the fact that Heckewelder interpreted "Namaesi Sipu" by
Mississippi, that the principal seats of this tribe or nation were
in the region of the Ohio and the western slope of the Allegheny
Mountains, and hence it is not wholly a gratuitous supposition to
believe they were the authors of some of the principal ancient
works of eastern Ohio (including those of the Scioto Valley) and
the western part of West Virginia. Moreover, there is the
statement by Haywood, already referred to, that the Cherokees had
a tradition that in former times they dwelt on the Ohio and built

These data, though slender, when combined with the apparent
similarity between the name Tallegwi and Cherokee or Chellakee,
and the character of the works and traditions of the latter,
furnish some ground for assuming that the two were one and the
same people. But this assumption necessitates the further
inference that the pressure which drove them southward is to be
attributed to some other people than the Iroquois as known to
history, as this movement must have taken place previous to the
time the latter attained their ascendancy. It is probable that Mr.
Hale is correct in deciding that the "Namaesi Sipu" of the
tradition was not the Mississippi. [Footnote: Am. Antiquarian,
vol. 5, 1883, p. 117.] His suggestion that it was that portion of
the great river of the North (the St. Lawrence) which connects
Lake Huron with Lake Erie, seems also to be more in conformity
with the tradition and other data than any other which has been
offered. If this supposition is accepted it would lead to the
inference that the Talamatau, the people who joined the Delawares
in their war on the Tallegwi, were Hurons or Huron-Iroquois
previous to separation. That the reader may have the benefit of
Mr. Hale's views on this question, the following quotation from
the article mentioned is given:

The country from which the Lenape migrated was Shinaki, the "land
of fir trees," not in the West but in the far North, evidently the
woody region north of Lake Superior. The people who joined them in
the war against the Allighewi (or Tallegwi, as they are called in
this record), were the Talamatan, a name meaning "not of
themselves," whom Mr. Squier identities with the Hurons, and no
doubt correctly, if we understand by this name the Huron-Iroquois
people, as they existed before their separation. The river which
they crossed was the Messusipu, the Great River, beyond which the
Tallegwi were found "possessing the East." That this river was not
our Mississippi is evident from the fact that the works of the
mound-builders extended far to the westward of the latter river,
and would have been encountered by the invading nations, if they
had approached it from the west, long before they arrived at its
banks. The "Great River" was apparently the upper St. Lawrence,
and most probably that portion of it which flows from Lake Huron
to Lake Erie, and which is commonly known as the Detroit River.
Near this river, according to Heckewelder, at a point west of Lake
St. Clair, and also at another place just south of Lake Erie, some
desperate conflicts took place. Hundreds of the slain Tallegwi, as
he was told, were buried under mounds in that vicinity. This
precisely accords with Cusick's statement that the people of the
great southern empire had "almost penetrated to Lake Erie" at the
time when the war began. Of course in coming to the Detroit River
from the region north of Lake Superior, the Algonquins would be
advancing from the west to the east. It is quite conceivable that,
after many generations and many wanderings, they may themselves
have forgotten which was the true Messusipu, or Great River, of
their traditionary tales.

The passage already quoted from Cusick's narrative informs us that
the contest lasted "perhaps one hundred years." In close agreement
with this statement the Delaware record makes it endure during the
terms of four head-chiefs, who in succession presided in the
Lenape councils. From what we know historically of Indian customs
the average terms of such chiefs may be computed at about twenty-
five years. The following extract from the record [Footnote: The
Bark Record of the Leni Lenape.] gives their names and probably
the fullest account of the conflict which we shall ever possess:

"Some went to the East, and the Tallegwi killed a portion.

"Then all of one mind exclaimed, War! War!

"The Talamatan (not-of-themselves) and the Nitilowan [allied
north-people] go united (to the war).

"Kinnepehend (Sharp-Looking) was the leader, and they went over
the river. And they took all that was there and despoiled and slew
the Tallegwi.

"Pimokhasuwi (Stirring-about) was next chief, and then the
Tallegwi were much too strong.

"Tenchekensit (Open-path) followed, and many towns were given up
to him.

"Paganchihiella was chief, and the Tallegwi all went southward.

"South of the Lakes they (the Lenape) settled their council-fire,
and north of the Lakes were their friends the Talamatan

There can he no reasonable doubt that the Alleghewi or Tallegwi,
who have given their name to the Allegheny River and Mountains,
were the mound-builders.

This supposition brings the pressing hordes to the northwest of
the Ohio mound-builders, which is the direction, Colonel Force
concludes, from the geographical position of the defensive works,
they must have come.

The number of defensive works erected during the contest shows it
must have been long and obstinate, and that the nation which could
thus resist the attack of the northern hordes must have been
strong in numbers and fertile in resources. But resistance proved
in vain; they were compelled at last, according to the tradition,
to leave the graves of their ancestors and flee southward in
search of a place of safety.

Here the Delaware tradition drops them, but the echo comes up from
the hills of East Tennessee and North Carolina in the form of the
Cherokee tradition already mentioned, telling us where they found
a resting place, and the mound testimony furnishes the
intermediate link.

If they stopped for a time on New River and the head of the
Holston, as Haywood conjectures, [Footnote: Nat. and Aborig. Hist.
Tenn., p. 223.--See Thomas, "Cherokees probably mound-builders,"
Magazine Am. Hist., May. 1884, p. 398.] their line of retreat was
in all likelihood up the valley of the Great Kanawha. This
supposition agrees also with the fact that no traces of them are
found in the ancient works of Kentucky or middle Tennessee. In
truth, the works along the Ohio River from Portsmouth to
Cincinnati and throughout northern Kentucky pertain to entirely
different types from those of Ohio, most of them to a type found
in no other section.

On the contrary, it happens precisely in accordance with the
theory advanced and the Cherokeee traditions, that we find in the
Kanawha Valley, near the city of Charleston, a very extensive
group of ancient works stretching along the banks of the stream
for more than two miles, consisting of quite large as well as
small mounds, of circular and rectangular inclosures, etc. A
careful survey of this group has been made and a number of the
tumuli, including the larger ones, have been explored by the
representatives of the Bureau.

The result of these explorations has been to bring to light some
very important data bearing upon the question now under
consideration. In fact we find here what seems to be beyond all
reasonable doubt the connecting link between the typical works of
Ohio and those of East Tennessee and North Carolina ascribed to
the Cherokees.

The little stone vaults in the shape of bee-hives noticed and
figured in the articles in Science and the American Naturalist,
before referred to, discovered by the Bureau assistants in
Caldwell County, N. C., and Sullivan County, Tenn., are so unusual
as to justify the belief that they are the work of a particular
tribe, or at least pertain to an ethnic type. Yet under one of the
large mounds at Charleston, on the bottom of a pit dug in the
original soil, a number of vaults of precisely the same form were
found, placed, like those of the Sullivan County mound, in a
circle. But, though covering human remains moldered back to dust,
they were of hardened clay instead of stone. Nevertheless, the
similarity in form, size, use, and conditions under which they
were found is remarkable, and, as they have been found only at the
points mentioned, the probability is suggested that the builders
in the two sections were related.

There is another link equally strong. In a number of the larger
mounds on the sites of the "over-hill towns," in Blount and Loudon
Counties, Tenn., saucer-shaped beds of burnt clay, one above
another, alternating with layers of coals and ashes, were found.
Similar beds were also found in the mounds at Charleston. These
are also unusual, and, so far as I am aware, have been found only
in these two localities. Possibly they are outgrowths of the clay
altars of the Ohio mounds, and, if so, reveal to us the probable
use of these strange structures. They were places where captives
were tortured and burned, the most common sacrifices the Indians
were accustomed to make. Be this supposition worthy of
consideration or not, it is a fact worthy of notice in this
connection that in one of the large mounds in this Kanawha group
one of the so-called "clay altars" was found at the bottom of
precisely the same pattern as those found by Squier and Davis in
the mounds of Ohio.

In these mounds were also found wooden vaults, constructed In
exactly the same manner as that in the lower part of the Grave
Creek mound; also others of the pattern of those found in the Ohio
mounds, in which bark wrappings were used to enshroud the dead.
Hammered copper bracelets, hematite celts and hemispheres, and
mica plates, so characteristic of the Ohio tumuli, were also
discovered here; and, as in East Tennessee and Ohio, we find at
the bottom of mounds in this locality the post-holes or little
pits which have recently excited considerable attention. We see
another connecting link in the circular and rectangular
inclosures, not combined as in Ohio, but analogous, and,
considering the restricted area of the narrow valley, bearing as
strong resemblance as might be expected if the builders of the two
localities were one people.

It would be unreasonable to assume that all these similarities in
customs, most of which are abnormal, are but accidental
coincidences due to necessity and environment. On the contrary it
will probably be conceded that the testimony adduced and the
reasons presented justify the conclusion that the ancestors of the
Cherokees were the builders of some at least of the typical works
of Ohio; or, at any rate, that they entitle this conclusion to
favorable consideration. Few, if any, will longer doubt that the
Cherokees were mound builders in their historic seats in North
Carolina and Tennessee. Starting with this basis, and taking the
mound testimony, of which not even a tithe has been presented, the
tradition of the Cherokees, the statement of Haywood, the Delaware
tradition as given by Heckewelder, the Bark Record as published by
Brinton and interpreted by Hale, and the close resemblance between
the names Tallegwi and Chellakee, it would seem that there can
remain little doubt that the two peoples were identical.

It is at least apparent that the ancient works of the Kanawha
Valley and other parts of West Virginia are more nearly related to
those of Ohio than to those of any other region, and hence they
may justly be attributed to the same or cognate tribes. The
general movement, therefore, must have been southward as
indicated, and the exit of the Ohio mound-builders was, in all
probability, up the Kanawha Valley on the same line that the
Cherokees appear to have followed in reaching their historical
locality. It is a singular fact and worthy of being mentioned
here, that among the Cherokee names signed to the treaty made
between the United States and this tribe at Tellico, in 1798, are
the following: [Footnote: Treaties between the United States of
America and the several Indian tribes (1837), p. 182.]
Tallotuskee, Chellokee, Yonaheguah, Keenakunnah, and
Teekakatoheeunah, which strongly suggest relationship to names
found in the Allegheny region, although the latter come to us
through the Delaware tongue.

If the hypothesis here advanced be correct, it is apparent that
the Cherokees entered the immediate valley of the Mississippi from
the northwest, striking it in the region of Iowa. This supposition
is strengthened not only by the similarity in the forms of the
pipes found in the two sections, but also in the structure and
contents of many of the mounds found along the Mississippi in the
region of western Illinois. So striking is this that it has been
remarked by explorers whose opinions could not have been biased by
this theory.

Mr. William McAdams, in an address to the American Association for
the Advancement of Science, remarks: "Mounds, such as are here
described, in the American Bottom and low-lands of Illinois are
seldom, if ever, found on the bluffs. On the rich bottom lands of
the Illinois River, within 50 miles of its mouth, I have seen
great numbers of them and examined several. The people who built
them are probably connected with the Ohio mound-builders, although
in this vicinity they seem not to have made many earthen
embankments, or walls inclosing areas of land, as is common in
Ohio. Their manner of burial was similar to the Ohio mound-
builders, however, and in this particular they had customs similar
to the mound-builders of Europe." [Footnote: Proc. Am. Assoc. Adv.
Sci., 29th (Boston) meeting, 1880 (1881), p. 715.] One which he
opened in Calhoun County, presented the regular form of the Ohio

A mound in Franklin County, Ind., described and figured by Dr. G.
W. Homsher, [Footnote: Smithsonian Report for 1882 (1884), p.
722.] presents some features strongly resembling those of the
North Carolina mounds.

The works of Cuyahoga County and other sections of northern Ohio
bordering the lake, and consisting chiefly of inclosures and
defensive walls, are of the same type as those of New York, and
may be attributed to people of the Iroquoian stock. Possibly they
may be the works of the Eries who, we are informed, built
inclosures. If such conclusion be accepted it serves to strengthen
the opinion that this lost tribe was related to the Iroquois. The
works of this type are also found along the eastern portion of
Michigan as far north as Ogemaw County.

The box shaped stone graves of the State are due to the Delawares
and Shawnees, chiefly the former, who continued to bury in
sepulchers of this type after their return from the East. Those in
Ashland and some other counties, as is well known, mark the
location of villages of this tribe. Those along the Ohio, which
are chiefly sporadic, are probably Shawnee burial places, and
older than those of the Delawares. The bands of the Shawnees which
settled in the Scioto Valley appear to have abandoned this method
of burial.

There are certain mounds consisting entirely or in part of stone,
and also stone graves or vaults of a peculiar type, found in the
extreme southern portions of the State and in the northern part of
Kentucky, which can not be connected with any other works, and
probably owe their origin to a people who either became extinct or
merged into some other tribe so far back that no tradition of them
now remains.

Recently a resurvey of the remaining circular, square, and
octagonal works of Ohio has been made by the Bureau agents. The
result will be given in a future bulletin.


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