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188 - History of Vermillion County Biographical and Historical Record of
Vermillion County, Indiana

ABORIGINAL

MOUND BUILDERS

The following sketches of the Mound-Builders, Indians, etc., are compiled from data furnished by Hon. John Collett. When first explored by the white race, this county was occupied by savage Indians, without fixed habitation, averse to labor and delighting only in war and the chase. Their misty traditions did not reach back to any previous people or age, but numerous earth-works are found in this region of such extent as to require for their construction much time and the persistent labor of many people. Situated on river bluffs, their location combines picturesque scenery, adaptability for defense, convenience for transportation by water, and productive lands. These are not requisites in the nomadic life of red men, and identifies the Mound-Builders as a partially civilized people. Their mounds and other works are of such extent that it required years of labor, with basket and shovel, to erect, and such coordination of labor as to indicate the rule of priestly government or regal authority; they were certainly to that extent civilized. The vastness of their work indicates a large community of people, so that governments were necessary, which must have had civil power to request and require the necessary labor. The implements found in the graves, mounds and tombs, were more often domestic and agricultural, and indicate a peaceful, obedient race. Their temples were defended by bulwarks of loving hearts rather than by warrior braves. Many of the religious emblems and articles of utility made of stone, point back to the earliest forms of sentiment represented by the fire and sun worshipers of Central Asia, and give a clue to the reason why their favorite habitations and mounds were as a rule never placed beneath the eastern bluffs of streams, but on the other hand were so located in elevated positions or on the wetern bluffs, that when the timber was cleared away and the land reduced to cultivation, a long outlook was given to the east and to the sunrise, from which direction their expected


Aboriginal - 189

Messiah or ruler was to come. Similar customs still prevail in Mexico.

Traditions intimate that the tribes were driven southward from the northern portion of the continent, and these traditions are corroborated by the discovery of relics in this region made from material found only far to the north.

Clusters of mounds are found in Vermillion County on Mound Prairie, near the Shelby battle-ground, and nearly all along the tract between Eugene and Newport, many of them twenty to forty feet in diameter, four, five or six feet high, and the clusters containing from ten to eighty mounds. One memorable mound is situated in the northern part of the town of Clinton, from which earth was removed for road building about 1830. In it were found stone implements of the Mound-Builders, accompanied with copper beads, five copper rods, half an inch in diameter and eighteen inces long, showing that it was one of the earliest of the Mound-Builder's works, whilst they were also accompanied with other implements imported from the north.

Another on the Head farm near Newport, had copper rods or spear heads and smaller stone implements. These were probably burial mounds. A majority of them contained no relics, but were siimply abandoned mounds of habitation. Mr. Pigeon in his volume called "Dacoudah," says he noticed figured mounds of men and beasts on the south bank of the Little Vermillion, three or four miles from its mouth. A burial mound near the northeast corner contains a chief in a sitting position at the center. Radiating from his body like the spokes of a wheel were five persons, slaves or wives, to wait upon him in the other world. His useful implements for the other world were a great number of copper beads, from a half inch to an inch and a quarter in diameter, seven copper axes, one of which contained unmelted virgin silver as it occurs at Lake Superior, varying in weight from two to eight pounds, and seven copper rods, (spear-heads), with pots and crocks containing black mold as if it were food. The streams near their homes afforded fish for food, and the implements found indicated that they were skilled in handling fish spears and gigs. The soil surrounding their homes was always the choicest, with the addition of beautiful and engaging scenery. The relics found in their mounds show that in their more northern homes in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan, the common northern material, the striped slate and copper, was abundant. In Vermillion County relics of this character, were scarce and precious, if not holy. At more southern points striped-slate implements of northern stone are very rare, while the precious copper could no longer be used in implement-making, but was beaten into the finest of sheets and bent over ornamental pendants. All these, and the customs of their burial, indicate an Asiatic origin, and prove conclusively that in their migration to this region they pass by more northern regions, including Lake Superior.

Afterward the northern barbarian came, of an intermediate race between the Mound-Builder and the red man. The Mound-Builders were driven away by this irruption their property seized, many of their wives made captive and adopted by the new people, Many of the customs of the old people consequently remained with the new comers, and the latter also deposited their dead in the old mounds, over the remains of the more ancient people. The number of individuals thus found buried together number from five to 2,000 or 3,000. Their graves and relics from the tombs are the only story of their lives.