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Focus. The mounds which have been excavated have pro-
duced convincing evidence of a rather recent origin. Basket-
like containers of birchbark found with burials were in a
sufficiently good state of presevation to permit removal. The
claws and all the fur of a beaver skin were encountered in
another grave. But of greater significance were a piece of
charred wood, found centrally on a mound floor, which ex-
hibited the long chopping stroke of a steel axe, and the entire
skull of a western type of mustang pony found with a burial.
These evidences of European influence definitely place the
time when these mounds were built as subsequent to the in-
troduction of the white man's materials."

So what happened to the horse's skull which is so per-
tinent to the full page illustration on p. 68 of this report
showing a Siouan platform burial with horses skulls on two
supports of the platform, and horse's tails on the poles on
the other end of the platform? The skull was found in the
Spencer Lake Mound which also had the boards (my term)
one of which had been worked with a "steel axe" (McKern's
term ) .

Now, this reviewer will engage in what is sometimes called
"hearsay evidence." About five years ago an individual or
individuals claimed that the horse skull was put into the
Spencer Lake Mound a few years before the 1936 excavation,
which would have meant a fairly good sized excavation pit
to put the skull in the lower part of the mound. No such pit
is shown or mentioned in the description of the mound ex-



Bookshelf 109

cavation. George I. Quimby tells me that the claim of the
intrusion of the horse skull was made at a meeting in Beloit
which he and A. C. Spaulding attended and that both of
them strenuously denied that it could have happened, because
there were no signs of intrusion in the earth above the skull.
Futhermore the skull was in tightly packed earth identical to
that of the surrounding area of the mound and that the skull
was filled with the same type of earth. It is their contention
that the skull was inclusive. In addition David Stout and
Joffre Coe also participated in the excavation. I had a close
association with all four immediately after their summer field
work. If anything had been wrong with the in situ interpre-
tation of this skull some one on the dig would have noticed
it, I have never known a group of students to let their super-
iors "get away" with an erroneous interpretation. The re-
cent pit in the Clam Lake Mound was noted and described.
It is difficult to believe that Spencer Lake was "salted." The
Rice Lake Mound recently described by Leland Cooper was
built during the early historic period and has material similar
to that found in the Clam River Focus.

This review has noted above the nature of the three wood
specimens I have referred to as "boards/' one of which is
said to have the marks of a metal axe. Were these also put
in the mound by the horse planters or did the Indians build
the mound over a barn? I have never heard of such speci-
mens in an Indian mound but am willing to regard them at
the moment as "native" and perhaps the remains of a travois
pulled by the faithful horse. (I know the travois had poles
and not planks.)

I don't think the evidence for the first appearance of the
horse in the Minnesota-western Wisconsin area is soundly
established. If the Oto had a horse in 1680 near Peoria, a
horse could also have been along the Upper Mississippi by
that time. The absence of specific European materials in the
mound would probably indicate a time near 170Q for Spencer
Lake. ^

McKern's archaeological comparisons are based on three Te-
ports by Wilford and these are the only archaeological cita-
tions in the bibliography. The Clam River Focus pottery is



110 WISCONSIN ARCHEOLOGIST Vol. 45, No. 2

stated to be almost identical to the Headwaters Lakes As-
pect of \Vilford, or to put it another way to Blackduck pot-
tery. McKern notes the similarities of the Clam River Focus
to the Mille Lacs, Headwaters Lakes and Rainy River com-
plexes of Wilford and notes that there is a similarity to all
three and not to any single one of Wilford's groups.

The illustrated ceramic material from the Clam Lake
Mound belongs somewhere in the Blackduck ceramic group.
This now seems to have a range in time from A. D. 700 to
about the historic period on the basis of radiocarbon dates
and associations with historic material. According to }. V.
Wright, Blackduck is found as far east as the mouth of the
Pic River on the east side of Lake Superior by A. D. 1000
and continues there to the historic period. There is now un-
derway in Minnesota a number of analyses of Blackduck
which will eventually isolate distinctive types. I will guess
that the Clam Lake pottery dates around A. D. 1200. The
single vessel called by McKern "Burnett Stamped Conoidal"
has a similar surface treatment to sherds from Mille Lacs, to
the grooved paddle treatment on some Grand River pottery
and to the misnamed "simple stamped" pottery of the Plains.

The shift in emphasis toward secondary burials, secondary
compound and secondary group burials begins toward the
end of Middle Woodland. The ossuary burials of some of the
Iroquoian groups is, I think, only a special late elaboration
of this practice and cannot be the direct source for a general
practice spread over a wide area. The practice of skeletal
mutilation is also one with a long history in the Great Lakes
area.

I suspect that the Clam Lake Mound is earlier than Spencer
Lake as did McKern. It may well be Dakota Sioux but
whether it is Santee or not is less certain. I suspect Spencer
Lake is around A. D. 1700, if the horse and the "boards" are
definitive of European contact, somewhat earlier if both prove
to have been wrongly interpreted. In any event, an attempt
should be made to obtain radio-carbon dates for materials
from both mounds. This report has emphasized the available
cultural data for two Wisconsin mounds. May we hope for
additional reports of some of the other Woodland groups in



Bookshelf 1 1 1

Wisconsin that will serve to present the distinctive character-
istics that caused McKern to group them into classificatory
units?

James B. Griffin
University of Michigan

Indians of the Woodlands from Prehistoric Times to 1725*

By George E. Hyde. The Civilization of the American
Indians Series, No. 64. University of Oklahoma Press:
Norman, 1962. $5.00.

The scope of this book is meant to be broad, encompassing
the story of the American Indian from Archaic times onward,
utilizing information from archeology, ethnology, history, and
tradition. Language groups provide the continuity for the
drama with the Siouan and Iroquoian stocks as chief actors.
For sections dealing with prehistory the author depends to a
great extent upon general reviews of the literature such as
Indians Before Columbus by Martin, Quimby, and Collier
(Chicago, 1947), H. C. Shetrone's The Mound Builders
(New York, 1930), and Archeology of Eastern United States,
edited by James B. Griffin (Chicago, 1952). Chronologies
suggested by archeologists are dismissed as "conjectural," an
interesting exception being dates based upon tree ring studies
at the Kincaid site in southern Illinois. Radiocarbon dating is
mentioned only on page 224, where the results mentioned are
termed "incredible," even "shocking."

The time scale actually used is one substantially more com-
pressed than that in works of the pre-radiocarbon era. Speak-
ing of ttie 'Ohio Valley, the author explains (p. 204) that
while ". . . archeologists have found village ruins, mounds,
a'nd burials . . . they have given most of these remains an
impossible dating at times as far back as the year 1300
which simply will not fit in with the traditional and historical
evidence." He goes on to comment, "It is not reasonable to
assume that only ancient Indiaii remains are here and that
all indications -of the Iiidiaiis of the period 1650-1700 have
vanished."' -A similar thought is 'expressed on page 255: "One
would suppose that iliodefn archaeology should be a great
aid in clearing up obscure points concerning these Indians in



112 WISCONSIN ARCHEOLOGIST Vol. 45, No. 2

South Dakota between 1680 and 1750 . . . [The] archaeo-
logical reports add many important facts to our previous
knowledge, and then make it impossible for us to use these
facts by insisting that all the village ruins and other Indian
remains are of a time prior to 1600 and that most of them
date before 1500." Archeologists do not, of course, insist that
all Indian remains in South Dakota are of a time prior to
1600, and it is certainly a gross understatement to say that
archeologists date Indian remains in the Ohio Valley as far
back as 1300* Hyde's readers are given no idea of the actual
antiquity of man in the Woodlands; the accepted time depth
of the Archaic Period is not even mentioned to be refuted.

The book suffers from the author's unfamiliarity with the
handling of archeological data. There is, for instance, no rea-
son to assume that an Indian group common in an area of
historic times must also be represented among the archeo-
logical cultures which happen to be known to science. An ex-
ample from Wisconsin illustrates this well. The Fox were a
tribe prominent in Wisconsin history for over a century, yet
when the first documented Fox village was excavated (Wis.
Arch. 44 (1): 1-57, 1963), the specific archeological culture
of the Fox was found to be unique for Wisconsin. Indians of
the Woodlands will do little to dispel the popular notion that
all Indian artifacts in a given locality originated with the
one or few Indian groups whose presence in that area is
known from historic records. When information to the con-
trary is lacking it seems logical to many that a small scatter-
ing of arrowheads in the Rock River Valley must be evidence
of a skirmish in the Black Hawk War or, if in the Minnesota
Valley, relics of the Sioux Uprising of 1862.

The stream of events in the book is dominated by sweep-
ing migrations and cataclysmic confrontations of Indian na-
tions. This illusion is created in several ways: (a) compres-
sion of the time scale, which accelerates all action in the
manner of a silent film projected at the speed of modern
"talkies;" (b) treating archeological cultures too often as
though they existed only in the locations at which the Uni-
versity of Chicago and other institutions happened to con-
duct well reported excavations; (c) regarding type-sites as



Bookshelf 113

centers of distribution and diffusion; (d) relying on outmoded
theories of mass migrations to account for cultural similarities,
differences, and changes; (e) using the unique tribal dislo-
cations of the late 17th century as a model for much of the
action in the book; and (f) paying scant attention to material
culture and then often only in connection with a conjectured
group relationship (e. g., "The Omaha Indians had in their
tribal sacred bundles an ancient bear canine tooth and a large
clam or mussel shell, which fact, taken with the tribal tradi-
tion of former residence in the Ohio Valley, suggests that
the Omahas were of the old Indian Knoll shell-heap groups."
-p. 8).

The author's use of archeological, historical, and ethno-
graphic data is highly personalized, but the readers are given
few clues that this is the case. For reasons of his own Hyde
applies the term "Effigy Mound culture" to archeological
complexes from Manitoba to the Ohio River (pp. 39, 41, 74 ~
75), arguing that the Effigy Mound builders created only
circular mounds after leaving the Wisconsin area (p. 74).
\Vithout crediting Radin for the original idea or indicating
that it has not been seriously considered for over 30 years,
Hyde indicates that the Winnebago were responsible for
Effigy Mound culture (p. 75). Moreover, he uses "Winne-
bago" in a startling way, for we are cautioned (p. 103) to
"keep in mind that the old Winnebago group not only in-
cluded the lowas and Otoes, but the Missouri tribe and prob-
ably also the Mandans, Hidatsas, and Crows" (emphasis
added). The Mandan and Hidatsa are assigned a former
homeland in west-central Wisconsin on a map (p. 9) which
also places the Ponca and Osage originally near Indianapolis,
Indiana, and the Biloxi in eastern Kentucky. Hyde speaks
with apparent authority on Wisconsin prehistory, yet he in-
cludes in his bibliography only one \Visconsin publication on
Wisconsin archaeology other than Increase A. Lapham's 1855
Antiquities of \Visconsin and Lapham's monograph is erron-
eously listed as an 1865 imprint. For information on Aztalan
he refers readers not to Barrett's comprehensive Ancient Az-
talan or even Lapham's classic early account but to brief sum-
maries in three secondary sources (p. 82).






114 WISCONSIN ARCHEOLOGIST Vol. 45, No. 2

Hyde's uncritical or selective use of sources is shown by
his extending the occupation of Aztalan into the mid-1 7th
century on the basis of the much criticized Kincaid site tree
ring dates, and by his suggestion that it was here that the
Winnebago fled for refuge from warring Algonkian tribes
shortly after Jean Nicolet's visit to Wisconsin (pp. 101, 103).
Archeologists are not in unanimous agreement on the time
that Aztalan was occupied, but Hyde stands alone in believ-
ing it was occupied during or even close to the period of
French contact. The author also states (p. 99) that ". . . the
Winnebagoes, lowas, and Otoes had an ancient song, which
the Iowa missionary stated was in the old \Vinnebago dia-
lect, which recounted how the three tribes had lived together
in a great fort of earth and timber on Rock River where
the earth-and-timber fortress of Aztalan was located," citing
Schoolcraft (Indian Tribes, III: 267, IV: 231) as his source.
On consulting the source cited it is readily seen that the
Indians did not indicate that the fort was on Rock River or
any other precise location; there was no indication that the
song, a song of the loways, was in an "old Winnebago" dia-
lect; there was no indication that the several mentioned tribes
had ever lived together in a fort or that the forts referred to
by the Winnebago and Iowa were the same one; and there is
no mention of the Oto in Schoolcraft in connection with the
song or the fort.

Next to the Iroquois, no group is deprecated more in this
book than recent generations of archeologists. One common
fault seems to be an alleged failure to sufficiently recognize
the role of Siouan peoples in the prehistory of the Ohio and
Upper Mississippi valleys. I find this to be a curious indict-
ment since the author has not presented or at least has not
been aware of current hypotheses which involve Siouans
prominently. He could have cited a current line of thought
which regards Aztalan as an intrusion of Siouans bringing
an advanced form of Mississippian culture into Wisconsin
from the greater St. Louis area. He also could have indicated
the accepted probability that Siouans contributed importantly
to the Mississippian climax culture which developed at the
Cahokia mound center, which was in its day the largest In-



Horse Skull 115

dian ceremonial center in the United States. Instead he
muses, "It seems incredible, but neither history, Indian tra-
dition, nor archaeology gives us any information about the
identity of these Mississippian tribes in the north" (p. 89).

In the words of its author, "The book as it stands is an
experiment, and how much use it may be remains to be seen."

Robert L. Hall,
Illinois State Museum

Archaeology Made Simple by Rhoda A. Hendricks. Dou-
bleday 6 Company, 1964. xi/180 pages. $1.45.
The title of this large, paperback book might entice the
purchaser seeking a simplified introduction to the field.
While it may be helpful so far as classical archaeology is
concerned, that of the New World is compressed to a single
chapter of eleven pages. The area north of Mexico is covered
in two pages, these being devoted to the Southwest. Here
we learn that traces of early habitations can be dated as early
as the first millenium A. D.! The author has also written
Latin made simple* Ne sutor supra crepidam,

D. A. B.



THE RIDDLE OF THE SPENCER LAKE
HORSE SKULL

Robert Ritzenthaler

In the light of Dr. James Griffin's review of McKern's
CLAM RIVER FOCUS monograph in this issue of the
Archeologist, which raises the question as to what happened
to the horse skull recovered from the Spencer Lake Mound,
it seems appropriate to present at least some of the case his-
tory involved.

In 1962, as the monograph was being prepared for pub-
lication, into the Museum came Mr. P., a middle aged college
teacher (on another matter). He happened to mention that
he and a friend had "planted" the horse skull in the Spencer
Lake mound as kids back in about 1928. He was quite con-
trite -about it and agreed to prepare a statement of the facts
as best he remembered them, after some 34 years. A copy of



116 WISCONSIN ARCHEOLOGIST Vol. 45, No. 2

this was sent to McKern with the question raised as to
whether this information would affect his time interpretation,
which was based partially on the factor of the skull being
part of the Indian burial, and, as the appearance of the horse
in Wisconsin was not recorded until the 1770's, it was an-
other bit of evidence for a rather late dating of the culture.
McKern responded with a statement (Appendix A) to the
effect that he was convinced that the skull he excavated was
not the planted one, but inasmuch as there was a reasonable
doubt (and that the horse skull was not crucial to his argu-
ment anyhow), he would make minor revisions and suggested
that his statement be published in the monograph. Mr. P.,
however, requested that neither his or McKern's statements
be published, a request that was honored, until the Griffin
review (see The Bookshelf) again raised the question at
which time Mr. P. prepared a final statement (Appendix B),
this time for publication. This writer is relieved to be some-
what extricated from a difficult situation and to see placed
on record some of the information that has been hearsay in

Wisconsin archeology for the last several decades.

So what is the answer to the riddle? On the one hand there
is the statement of McKern, a highly competent, professional
archeologist that the skull was removed from a non-intrusive
pit. Furthermore, this is backed up by at least several of the
crew members, then college students, now placed as profes-
sional archeologists in various parts of the country. Such
testimony cannot be lightly dismissed. If the horse skull was
a plant, it would almost have to have been the result of hor-
izontal burrowing from the bottom of the vertical pit by the
planters, and then, barely large enough to hold the skull,
a somewhat unlikely set of circumstances. Furthermore the
side-intrusion would have shown up, although it might be
more easily missed than a vertical one. Some horizontal bur-
rowing was admitted by the planters, but the precise circum-
stances could not be recalled.

On the other hand, there are the admissions of two non-
archaeologists, 'albeit respectable citizens, that the horse skull
was planted by them in the Spencer Lake mound as a child-
hood prank, and their only interest in the matter is to at-



Horse Skull 117

tempt to set the record straight. { They have gone to some
trouble and expense to do so, and their efforts should not go
unappreciated.

The identification of the horse as a western mustang would
seem to add weight to the non-plant case. However, Mr.
\Valter -Rglz.gr,. mammologist at the Milwaukee Public Mu-
seum, tellg me fehat western mustangs r ,were ; imported for use
on Wisconsin farms in .considerable number during the early
part of the twentieth century. In examining the skull he noted
rodent marks on the cranium and mandible of a size which
"could have been made only by mice," and made the obser-
vation that "this skull must .have laid : above ground for
awhile." Mice have been known to use the burrows of other
rodents, for a few feet below the surface, but the appearance
of the teeth marks on various surfaces of both the cranium
and mandible would require a maze of tunnels ... a highly
unlikely circumstance. This is fairly strong evidence for the
plant explanation, for Mr. P. and friend state they picked up
the skull which was laying in a nearby field. The strongest
point in favor of the plant case in my way of thinking is in
terms of probability. It does seem incredulous to this writer
that in the only mound in Wisconsin where a horse skull
occurred, one skull went in, one came out, but that they
should be different skulls. The conclusion I have reached is
that the excavated skull was the plant.

The final proof will arrive in the form of radio-carbon dates
now being run at the University of Michigan. We should
have them in time for publication in the next issue which we
await with bated breath.

For obvious reasons we could not publish all the corres-
pondence in the case. Enough has been said, however, to
indicate the confusion and problems caused by a plant. We
hope the lesson is apparent to all.



118 WISCONSIN ARCHEOLOGIST Vol. 45, No. 2

APPENDIX A

The Spencer Lake Horse Skull, Response to Mr, P/s
Letter of June 28, 1962

By W. C McKern

In regard to the presence of the horse skull in the mound,
Mr. P. has informed me, in a letter addressed to Robert E.
Ritzenthaler (1962), that in 1928 he and a friend, M. C. V.,
dug a centrally placed pit in ". . . the longest * mound in
a group located on low land on the shore of Spencer Lake."
Their excavation was about four by five feet in cross dim-
ensions and penetrated to a depth of six or seven feet "...
straight down in the center." They found "... absolutely
nothing." Before filling the excavation they placed a horse
skull, that was found nearby, in the bottom of the hole. He
believes that he oriented the skull either north-south or east-
west, ". . . minus the lower mandible."

Mr. P. is to be commended for bringing this information to
our attention. However, if Mr. P.'s facts are accurately
stated in his letter, and I have no reason to believe that they
are not (in fact they deserve no consideration unless they
are), the skull that he and his friend buried can not possibly
be the skull that we found. In fact, there is considerable
doubt that his mound is the one that we excavated. He des-
cribes it as the longest * mound in a group of mounds located
on low land near the lake shore. The mound that we exca-
vated was a high, laterially round, hempispherical tumulus
that no one would ever describe as "long," standing alone,
unassociated with any other mounds as far as the eye could
see, on relatively high ground a considerable distance from
the lake shore. There are no other mounds within the reason-
ably near vicinity. We were told by interested citizens of the
locality that there was a group of mounds, smaller in size
and including some short linear shapes, elsewhere on the
lake shore, but we had a full season's work before us and did
not so much as visit the site. Elsewhere in the general region,

* (Editor's note: In the copy sent to McKern the term largest was
erroneously typed longest.)



Horse Skull 119

however, I have seen a number of groups of relatively low
mounds, including both round and long shapes.

But assuming that Mr. P. has entirely forgotten the shape,
location, and physical associations of his mound, which hard-
ly seems reasonable, the following conflicting facts must be
given critical consideration. His excavation was in the cen-
ter of the mound and limited in size to approximately four by
five feet. An earlier, centrally placed excavation of about this
size, although several feet deeper than the six or seven feet
of Mr. P.'s estimate, was detected in the Spencer Lake
Mound (p. 39). It is doubtful if there is a prominent mound
in the entire county that does not bear evidence of similar
unrecorded pit excavations. Evidence of a similar pit was
found in the Clam Lake Mound (p. 12). P. and his associate
found "absolutely nothing" as a result of their digging. In
that case someone else must have re-excavated their pit at a
later date, as the fragmentary bones of disturbed burials
were found by our workers scattered through the loose fill
of this pit. Mr. P. states that they placed the horse cranium,
minus the lower mandible, at the bottom of their pit. We
were able to trace the walls of the loosely filled pit from top
to bottom without difficulty. The contrast between the un-



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