On gifts from the ground

Look what I found in one of my old greenhouse’s garden beds!  It is what I think it is.  I think.  It’s fairly worn.

I’m always surprised any artifacts like this are found at all.  I always wonder, too, how they ever got missing in the first place:  think about it.  That was a lot of hours spent finely honing that stone.  I’m wondering if it was lost in a strike on an animal that got away.  (It’s a spearhead, I think; it’s too big to be an arrowhead.)  It would be horrible to think it is actually a tool of war, but it could be that too.  Anyway, with finding this little stone, much thought has been thunk.

I’ve already been on a do-your-own-food kick for a while, and the Eat Local Challenge for October posts that I have made have addressed some of the ways we eat very local around here.  But the Hubbard squash picture from yesterday, and the hominy corn post I did a while back?  These were staples of the Native Americans who lived where we do now.  Squash had to be big:  you needed to feed a lot of people with it.  No fluffy little Delicatas for them, what was the point?

The known tribe that still actually exists in Southwest Michigan is the Pokagon band of the Potawatomi.  This particular band wasn’t shuttled further west and south on their own Kansas and Oklahoma-bound Trail of Tears with the rest of the Potawatomi because they had the…distinction of being converts to Catholicism at the mission of St. Joseph (a town 15 miles south of me).  Rather fascinating story.  Fights with the Iroquois of New York in the 1650s led most of the Lower Peninsula to be a kind of no-man’s land, depopulated of its Miami and Potawatomi tribes, who, with the Hurons from Ontario and the Sauk from the Detroit area all fled to what is now Wisconsin and Illinois, on the other side of the lake.  Some Potawatomi and Miami returned, finding some security with the Jesuit mission on the St. Joseph River, around 1668.  And they settled, and stayed.

So for me, wondering about what they ate is an interesting exercise.  The fruits I tend to forage are not natives (olive berries, apples, pears).  Many edibles that are native I mostly ignore (lamb’s quarters, sassafras, wild cherry, wild grapes, sugar maples) or can’t find (pawpaws, acorns, wild rice, cranberries).  Lake Michigan has lots of native fish, but the easily caught spawning salmon that we find now are white-man introductions.  I don’t hunt, so all the game readily found around here (deer, turkey, pheasant, rabbit, beaver) and predators (cougars, coyotes, no-longer-here wolves) also get a pass.  The things I readily forage (asparagus, black raspberries, strawberries) are short-seasoned things that certainly aren’t at all filling.

What a different life it seems today, the life behind that spearhead.

9 responses to “On gifts from the ground

  1. I think you’re probably right about that being a spearpoint (although atlatl dart tip is another possibility). It’s sort of hard to tell, but it looks fluted at the back, implying it was hafted like a spear, otherwise I’d say it looks like a handaxe. Of course, it could also be a natural formation, but there are enough conchoidal fractures on there that it’s probably an entirely safe bet to say “spear point”.

    Ah, nothing like putting those Lithic Tool Analysis classes from my undergrad to work.:)

  2. Colin! Excellent. Ohmigosh I would’ve loved classes in Lithic Tool Analysis! (Next life.) Yes, initially I thought for sure it was just, you know, a rock, but (and I couldn’t photograph it well enough to show it) the sides are definitely fluted (pinched) outward to a straight edge, and it appears to have a grooved waist to fasten it to something. It’s about 3.5″ long and almost 2″ wide. I certainly don’t assume it’s from the Pokagons, but felt it was necessary to give the little history I do know about the area. There aren’t many stones at all in our ground much less stones of this size. So who knows. Thank you!

  3. Wow….the best thing I’ve found in my yard is pull-top tabs from old beer cans 😉

  4. I so enjoyed , your knowledge of history behind the found object. It is so true that almost all land has changed by introduction of non native plant and animal.

  5. Your blog is very interesting, I’m glad you write daily.

  6. Jason, let’s just say this was a surprising find, considering most of the junk I normally “find.”

    Thanks, Grammy. I am glad you enjoyed the ramble. The world seems so immense but wow have we really changed it, and not for the better.

    Thanks Liz. I strive to at least be interesting 😉

  7. What’s wrong with it being a war implement? You like your Native Americans all peaceful and kumbaya-y? 😉

  8. Now that’s more interesting than what we’ve been finding at our new place….there the digging reveals lots of plastic – toothbrushes, bags, pegs, lids, lipstick tubes etc. Evidently, the family we bought the house from seemed to think that these things could decompose with their food scraps. I could understand to some degree if they had to bury their garbage but gee, we have municipal collection!! Interesting other people’s concept of a compost pile…..no pumpkins coming up there.

  9. Wow, what a cool find! I always keep an eye on the ground when I am hiking in the fields near to me (which are incidently not far from you-south of Shipshewana, IN). i have found almost arrowhead shaped rocks, but have never found one I doubted as just natural formation.

    I also have the same issue as Nada. My woods was apparently previous owners garbage dump and, unfortunately this is in rather recent time in history! one day I suppose it will be a middon of study, LOL!

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