Telephone to the Great Spirit
The Woodland Period
Late to middle Woodland
Late to middle Woodland
Nebo Hill - Our areas
The Mercer Site
A multli-occupational site
This Nebo Hill projectile or knife is a classic example of the fine work these people accomplished using this local chert resorce. The peices were knapped laterally and there is a ridge toward the center of each piece making them quite thick. After the archaic period a finer method of flint knapping came into use that changed the art forever.
This spear head, pictured above, was found on Fishing River in Ray County Missouri in October of 2001. It is 5.cm L x 2.cm W x 0.5cm thick. The piece is gently fluted verticaly from the base. The grey and tan projectile is banded and the chert is from local resources. I have identified this as dating from early archaic (5-7,000BC) associated with similar peices refered to as Rice contracting stems.
|The Archaic Period
This small green granite axehead is from the archaic period and is nearly perfect. This coarse material that was glacially deposited here would be extremely difficult to fashion into such a smooth and semetrical shape. Three of its four qaurters have a distinctive groove that was used to haft the axe to a handle. It is presumed that deer antlers were a likely resource for these handles.
No section of time in Fishing Rivers past is more important than the Archaic period. It meanders to the Missouri River. Fishing River was a pathway to the Missouri River that, during this time, would have been a vast and considerable waterway. Estimates are that the water levels would have been at least ten feet higher during this period than they are today. Its bluffs and upper shelves were littered with camps and places where ancient men utilized Missouri's natural resources. Only a few miles southwest of what is now Excelsior Springs lies Nebo Hill. This huge hill, with the highest elevation in Clay County, represents the epicenter of a culture refered to as Nebo. The name for this culture, "Nebo", was taken from the family who owned the property in the 1900s. It is important to remember that historic Native Americans have tribal names, but prehistorically they are recognized by cultural traits and assigned names. They had no written language and therefore this method of identifying must be used.
From about 3,000 to 1,000 BC this culture was far reaching, trading its distinctive projectile and axe designs as far north as Canada. Strong evidence exists that they occupied this area successfuly for over two thousand years, however there are pieces from as early as 5,000 BC. This could possibly represent the transition between the Middle Archaic period that proceeded it and a new and vastly more sophisticated life. It is certain that by 3,000 BC they had a culture whos influence and numbers of people marked the change from a nomadic type lifestyle to one of organization among the peoples of this part of North America. This culture certainley laid a part of the foundation that initiated the Woodland periods great trade lines. The Nebos time here marked a new era in the natives collective sharing of technologies. I believe that this was the case, and that this period was as important as any in the prehistory of North America.
The Nebo Hill people had permanent settlements, developed and improved some agricultural practices and tools beyond their previous usefullness, engaged in ritual burial, and may have developed the first pottery to appear in the midwest. Their method of living was suffiecient to last longer than the Roman Empire. Their populations were at times vast, and they left so many tools behind that some archaeologists believed their points were used as currency rather than as implements! We will most likely never know the extent of their populations.
Work began in the late 70's and Nebo Hills most occupied centers were destroyed to make way for new Hwy. 210. Little was done to preserve the enormous amount of information that was eliminated from its setting forever.
It is a highly emotional issue among many Americans now that we treated the Native Americans as we did. We cannot undo that past, nor can we properly accept responsibility for our ancestors sins. What we can do is see that the archaeological record of this peoples past be protected enough not to completely obliterate it through development. If we fail to do this we will have robbed them, not only of their land, but of their ancestors evidence of existence as well. This would make the destruction of their culture complete. The protection and preservation of these sites and their remains are our last chance to treat them with dignity. Its destruction is occuring now and we are responsible for what happens now ... because we are capable of changing this.
Please write your state legislators and let them know how you feel about the preservation of Missouri's ancient past.
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