18 June 2014

Holder-Wright Earthworks, Jeffers Mound, and Kerr Mound

The 40-foot tall conical Jeffers Mound is covered in vegetation,
including approximately 40 trees and ring of poison ivy
Ohio State University’s American Indian Center sponsored Linda and my trip here to observe the prehistoric earthworks. The Newark Earthworks Center co-sponsored our trip, and our hosts are Marti Chaatsmith (Comanche-Choctaw) and Christine Ballengee Morris (Eastern Cherokee). Earthworks are ubiquitous in Ohio, and OSU and NEC are striving to protect them by increasing awareness about them.

Ohio has no federally recognized tribes; however, a number of historical tribes lived here before being relocated to Indian Territory and other regions. These tribes include (but are not limited to):
  • Anishinaabe (Odawa, Ojibwe, Potawatomi)
  • Delaware (Lenape)
  • Eel River people
  • Erie
  • Kaskaskia (enrolled today in the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma)
  • Miami
  • Mingo (enrolled today in the Seneca-Cayuga Nation)
  • Piankashaw (enrolled today in the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma)
  • Sauk
  • Shawnee
  • Wea (enrolled today in the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma)
  • Wyandotte (Wendat).
 What's interesting is that the Miami, Shawnee, and Wyandotte people arrived in Ohio from the East in the 17th century and openly state they did not build the earthworks. Adena earthworks date back 3,000 to 2,200 years, and Hopewell earthworks date back 2,200 to 1,500 years, so in truth, it would be extremely difficult to determine what tribes are connected to the earthworks. It is debated whether or not Fort Ancient culture, which only dates back 1,000 to 250 years, descends from the Hopewell tradition. Did Fort Ancient develop in situ or emigrate from another region into Ohio?

A Miami scholar told Marti Chaatsmith that Miami weren't connected to the earthworks and had no specific language about them. He suggested that verbs would be the place to look—to planning and building major earthworks. What Indigenous language has these terms? Seems like Anishinaabemowin would be an intriguing candidate to study.
During our busy first day we visited the Holder-Wright earthworks in Dublin, Jeffers Mound in Worthington, and the Kerr Mound located between two residential houses in Pickerington.

I’ll share more details when there’s time!