NATIVE AMERICAN PALEOLONTOLOGY Carnegie Dinosaur Quarry, Dinosaur National Monument, UT
Fossil leaves and twigs, Four-Mile draw, Rio Blanco county, CO. <ul><li>Native American peoples saw the fossilized remains of previous life around them and came up with their own explanations of what they were, and what they meant. </li></ul>Fate Bell Shelter, Val Verde County, TX.
Native peoples recognized invertibrate fossils as remains of former life forms. Northern great plains tribes, especially the Blackfoot, believed in buffalo stones which gave hunters the power to call bison. These were usually fossils.
Their beliefs conferred special spiritual power to these objects which were recognizably remains of life, but made of stone. Pahvant Ute trilobite necklace conferred health and immunity to enemy weapons.
Roman Nose leading a war party, by Howling Wolf. <ul><li>The famous Cheyenne warrior Roman Nose had a war bonnet made with a piece of fossil which made him immune to his enemy’s weapons. </li></ul>
White Antelope, Man-on-a-cloud, and Roman Nose (left to right). Photo: Wm. S. Soule, 1867. <ul><li>White Buffalo Bull had made the war bonnet for Roman Nose after instructions he received in a vision. Its decoration included paint made with ground-up fossil. </li></ul>
Native Americans recognized vertebrate fossils as monstrous animals. <ul><li>They assumed that since they found their bones, there must as well be living examples of the same animals somewhere. </li></ul><ul><li>Brontotheres – Denver Museum of Nature and Science. </li></ul>
A mammoth skull eroding out of the river bank during spring runoff would have been interpreted as a gigantic horned head. <ul><li>Juvenile mammoth skull excavation at Lamb Springs, Douglas County, Colorado, led by Dr. James Dixon, </li></ul><ul><li>2002. </li></ul>
By imagining a mammoth skull upside down they could see it as the head of a gigantic horned animal. Mammoth skull, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, 2003.
Lakota Water Monster With the association of giant, horned heads, and the proximity to water, plains tribes believed that gigantic horned water monsters inhabited the rivers. Belief in these monsters was reinforced by the observation of fossil skeletons eroding out of cliffs in the badlands. Sioux water monster, Johathan Carver, 1766-7, British Museum. .
Embden Ledge, Maine, rubbing by Roslyn Strong Omaha water monster, illustrated by Fletcher and LaFleche, 1904
Kiowa Water Monster The Kiowa water monster was the giant horned fish known as Zemoguani. Kiowa hide painting, 1904, collected by James Mooney. Model painted lodge collected by James Mooney, 1891-1904.
Other tribes also had tipis painted with the underwater monsters. Blackfoot tipi with great horned serpent, painted by Tom Kiyo, 1912. Collected by James Wissler. Assiniboine painted lodge.
Pueblo peoples also believed in giant horned or feathered serpents. <ul><li>Zuni Avanyu, and Hopi Palulukong, live underground and rule the waters. </li></ul><ul><li>They provide the water for springs and the groundwater for crops. </li></ul>
The underwater serpent is often found associated with sky themes such as thunderbirds and stars.
Red avanyu, Maria Martinez and Santana, 1946. Horned serpent, Galisteo, NM. The association of serpents and birds combines the influences of the underworld with the above.
Michi-peshu, Agawa Rock, Lake Superior Provincial Park, Ontario <ul><li>Michi-peshu, the great </li></ul><ul><li>underwater panther. </li></ul><ul><li>Dorsal spines down </li></ul><ul><li>the back. </li></ul><ul><li>Copper scales. </li></ul><ul><li>Rules the giant </li></ul><ul><li>underwater serpents. </li></ul><ul><li>Implacable enmity to Thunderbird. </li></ul>
Michi-peshu, Agawa Rock, Lake Superior Provincial Park, Ontario Michi-peshu seen with two giant underwater serpents, and a canoe full of travelers trying to elude them.
Michi-peshus, Potawatomi medicine bag, 1840-80, WI. Thunderbirds, eastern Sioux medicine bag, 1800-25 .
One side of the medicine bags was decorated with Thunderbirds, the other with the Michi-peshus, the underwater panther, fixing the earthly medicine power between the sky and the underworld.
The dragon lock plates were associated with the underwater serpents. With the lightning of the gun, and the underwater serpent on its side the native warrior felt that he was in command of the powers of both the upper and under worlds. A trade musket made a loud bang, with a flash of light, and struck down its target at a distance. This was thought to contain the lightning power of the Thunderbird.
Northwest coastal tribes found giant fossil bones in the mountains and believed that thunderbirds caught whales and carried them to the mountains to eat them. The earthquakes common in that area were caused by their fighting. - 19 th century ceremonial curtain.
Thunderbird carried horned serpents that he threw as harpoons to capture his whale prey.
Stanley Park, Victoria B.C., Photo: 1995. Thunderbird with whale, Chief Wakius pole on left, Kwakiutl, mid-1890s, Alert Bay, Vancouver Island, B.C. Mythological themes were often portrayed in the people’s art like totem poles.
Are there mammoths in Native American rock art? The mammoth became extinct in North America at the end of the Pleistocene period. People here had coexisted with them and hunted them for thousands of years.
Dr. Dean Brimhall recorded a number of possible mammoth petroglyphs in Utah. Paradise Flats, north of Torrey, UT.
Near Moab, Utah, is a petroglyph that is thought by some to represent a mammoth or mastodon. Photo: Dell Crandall
Others interpret it as a bear with a fish in its mouth.
Discovered in March, 2002, at Farrington Springs, Bent County, Colo., by Tony Little and Mike Maselli .
This image is on an isolated boulder facing the cliff. When turned 90 the image resembles an elephant.
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