Monday, November 3, 2014

Description Of Stone Structures From NolumbekaProject.Org

From NolumbekaProject.Org

I copied an article here from concerning sacred stone sites in the NorthEast region.  This was from clicking the "Sacred Site Preservation" link.  The article is by Diane Dix.  I hope it is ok I can share this article here, it is very articulate!  This is one of those articles that I think is a must-read for anybody concerning this subject matter:  

To Preserve That Which Is Sacred
by Diane Dix

Standing Stones on Burnt Hill, Heath MA (photo courtesy of Martin Miller)
Simply said, the members and friends of the Nolumbeka Project regard much of New England as a vast ritualized landscape.  

In addition to theWissatinnewag property now under our stewardship, we are continuing our efforts to protect the re-burials at White Ash Swamp and are involved in a number of other preservation efforts to identify and protect other American Indian burial sites.

In 2008, members of the Nolumbeka Project were instrumental in proving the eligibility of the Turners Falls (MA) Sacred Hill Ceremonial Site for the National Register of Historic Places. Without this intervention, the site would have been destroyed by the extension of the airport’s runway. Nolumbeka Project members assisted by providing records from our Archives;  giving first person accounts verifying the sacred nature of the area; clearing brush;  monitoring  the site; and participating in important meetings.  Visit  for details about this important preservation success.

To gain an understanding of the vastness of our mission, one must realize that much of the history we were taught in school about the pre-European history of New England was based on a deep and pervasive cultural bias. Until recently, there were academics, “experts” in the field of archaeology and anthropology, who asserted that the New England American Indians did not build with stone.  (Somealso said there were no Native Americans in Vermont!)

Although much has been destroyed or misidentified, stone monuments, earthworks, burials and other evidence of the existence of a highly developed culture remain. The monuments, although very similar to ancient monuments worldwide, were deliberately disconnected from the true history of the native culture. Much of this cultural denial was perpetrated by English land speculators, and by some Christian ministers whose goal, as worded by Rev. John Eliot was to, “to convince, bridle, restrain and civilize” the Indians “and also to humble them”.

Because of this deep cultural bias, the lithic remains of the Native Americans of New England remained hidden in plain view for centuries.  Many of these features are constructed with stone and blend quietly and reverently into the natural surroundings. Yet, once one awakens to their presence they seem to be everywhere. Most were constructed hundreds, even thousands of years ago, when the Indians burned much of the land to control the vegetation and foliage did not obstruct the sightlines. Often these monuments lead the eyes to the place where the earth meets the sky.

Like many acknowledged sites in pre-Christian Europe and elsewhere, many of these structures are oriented to important astronomical events, such as the sunrises and sunsets on the solstices and equinoxes.  Others signal the time to plant crops or burn the land. Many of these ritual sites connect with other sites to form networks that stretch for hundreds of miles.

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Other Native American stone structures include prayer seats, stone rows, burial mounds, memorial piles, observation mounds, standing stones, perched boulders, balanced rocks, rocking stones, notched stones, effigy stones, effigy mounds, stone chambers, and Manitou stones. Manitou stones are found in varying sizes. Shaped in the form of a head and shoulders, they might be found standing alone, built into a stone row, or placed on a stone mound.  

Manitou is the Algonquin word for God.  According to Byron Dix and James Mavor, Jr. in their bookManitou: The Sacred Landscape of New England’s Native Civilization, Manitou is “the spiritual quality possessed by every part or aspect of nature, animate or inanimate…………. aspects of the natural world that are sensed but not understood.” This description is consistent with the way the early inhabitants of this continent regarded their surroundings.

Over the years, most of these monuments were misidentified due to the prevailing cultural bias. For instance, stone chambers, which were often ritual sites used to observe important astronomical events, were dismissed as “root cellars”.  To witness an equinox sunrise from one of these “root cellars” is to marvel at the celestial knowledge of the ancient Native American builders.  On the exact morning of the equinox, although the sun is traveling rapidly across the sky,  it rises precisely in the center of the chamber’s doorway and leads the eye to a distinctive marker in its sightline.  Similarly, the stone piles attributed to field clearing and the thousands of miles of stone rows that were described by historians as colonial fences are sometimes misidentified.  Through careful observation of the orientation and construction of some of these structures their true ancient origins become apparent.

For more information on the sacred landscape of the Northeast we encourage you to read Manitou:The Sacred Landscape of New England’s Native Civilization by James Mavor, Jr. and Byron E. Dix, (Inner Traditions, 1989).  Also, although our interpretations may differ in some instances,  Mary and James Gage’s  is  a website that includes a wonderful display of photos and diagrams of the sacred landscape surrounding us.

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