Cherokee Phoenix

From the Flint's Indian Wars of the West

Published October, 19, 1833

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From the Flint's Indian Wars of the West


Among the second class of Indian antiquities may be classed the idols, vases, and culinary utensils, of which such numbers are found in the western country, as that they are no longer regarded as curiosities. The beautiful three headed idol, the most remarkable specimen of Indian pottery and molding that has yet been found, was taken from a mound in Tennessee. It consists of three heads proportions of considerable accuracy, representing countenances of different expressions and ages. The whole workmanship is surprising, when viewed in reference to the common notion of Indian art.- We possessed a beautiful and perfect specimen of Indian pottery in the shape of a drinking gourd. The aperture represented the mouth of a squaw, which the thirst drinker would naturally kiss with a degree of eager appetite. In digging a ditch round a garden below Saint Charles, in the forks between the Mississippi and Missouri, we came upon great quantities of fragments of this ware. Much of it in fine preservation has been dug from the chalk banks below the mouth of the Ohio. It is found in fact everywhere between the Pittsburgh, Lake Superior, and New Mexico. The material is clay, with a considerable intermixture of sand, sometimes flinty, sometimes calcareous, but generally of a snowy whiteness. They were all molded by the hand without any aid from the potter's wheel. The shapes of natural objects were happily imitated, and they were hardened by the heat of the sun. Sculptured and inscribed rocks are among the most common of Indian antiquities. On the side of a mountain in Tennessee, are the marks of the footsteps of men and horses in the limestone, in great numbers and as though they were the tracks of an army. Some of the tracks show, as if the party had slipped in miry clay. All have the appearance of being an actual impress in soft clay, which afterwards hardened to stone, retaining a perfect impression. Characters of grert (sic) freshness of coloring are marked upon many of the high bluffs that impend the western rivers. Inscriptions of this sort are found in Missouri, on the Illinois, and various other places. A remarkable track of human foot was found in a solid block of limestone, on the bank of the Mississippi, at St. Louis. The most ancient traditions of the west do not touch the origin of these mounds or characters. 'The recent excavation of the Louisville and Portland Canal, afforded an impressive display of ancient remains. In the alluvial stratum immediately above the compact bed of slate limestone, and from nineteen to upwards of twenty feet below the surface, brick hearths were brought to view, with the coals of the last social domestic fires still visible. The bricks, as we have heard them described, were hard and regular, differing from those of the present make, in being proportion to their width and thickness. Along with the organic remains of animals, similar to those found at Big Bone Lick, were skeletons of men in great numbers. Among others, was that of a man standing erect in the earth, one arm raised to an angle of forty-five degrees with the shoulder, and holding in the hand a semi-globular, or rather elliptical stone, striated with gay colors, beautifully polished, and of the size of half an orange.'