Tuesday, December 1, 2009

School project

I openned my email last night and found this note there. I really don't know the right answer, so I thought that I'd ask my blogger buddies to respond.

Dear Ernie,
I am 6 and 1/2 years old. My name is (Withheld). My mamma is typing for
 me while I talk.
 I found some arrow heads on the top of Pratt Mountain.
 My Daddy was able to go there because he knows someone who has land
 Ernie, I am really into arrow heads and I was wondering if you could
 give us information about the Indians that made the arrow heads on the
 top of Pratt Mountain or if you could tell us how to find that
 I found a "scraper" and 2 spears that they were making but didn't
 finish and I found a little white one that looks like a really sharp
christmas tree.
I want to do a presentation for my class on spears and where they came
 Please write me back. This is my mammas email.

 Thank You.
(Name withheld)
 (and his mamma)

Dear (Name witheld)

First, I'm sorry that it took so long to get back to you. I have had many things to deal with lately. If you are anything like me, you must be getting very annoyed by now.

Pratt Mountain is at the point that four different tribes joined. But, rather than me guessing, I’m going to post it here on my blog. I have many friends that are students of the local Indian tribes. I’ll ask if anybody knows, or has an opinion.

Thanks for writing
P.S. If you want to find arrowheads, ridgetops are a good place to look for them. The soils don't collect over them, but washes away, leaving them expossed. Fields where Indians were known to camp is another good spot. Watch the gopher and squirrel mounds. After a rain they will show up because the arrowheads are made out of glassy rock that will sparkle in the sun. Check after a field has been plowed. Then check the field again after a rain. The bottom of drywash creeks are also a good spot to find arrowheads.
There are thousands of arrowheads still undiscovered. The Indian People made them in great numbers.
The Four tribes that joined at Pratt Mountain were the Nongatl, the Lassic. the Shelter Cove Sinkyone, and the Matole Wailaki. But... I am no expert. I am just a person that is interested in everything about the South Fork of the Eel river and the surrounding areas.

Please help us on this school project.

Found in Humboldt Ca. but not Pratt Mountain.



Jim Baker said...

Dear (name withheld),

I am interested in the Indian people who lived near Pratt Mountain too, and have studied the literature written mostly by non-Indian professors and students for a long time. That's a good place to start your research and I would be glad to tell you where to look for it if you are interested. The helpful folks at the Garberville library would be glad to get you started. One of the best sources of information, however, would be the many individuals living in our community right now who are directly descended from the very people who made the "arrowheads" you found.You probably are attending school with some of them right now.

When thinking about the "tribes" who lived near Pratt Mountain, one has to specify what time period you are asking about. Indian people have lived there for over 8,000 years, and during that time there have been many migrations and different people speaking different languages who occupied that territory. Just think about how much has changed here in Southern Humboldt just in the last 150 years or so since the California Gold Rush. Indian people have lived here for over 50 times as long as that, and over 4 times as long as the time passed since the birth of Christ. Just stop and think about that. The odds are that the arrowheads and other stone tools and flakes that you found are from many different periods during that 8000 years or more. Archaeologists tell us that bows and arrows (your little white "Christmas tree" sounds like a true "arrowhead") were not even introduced into this area before about 1500 years ago. Before that, spears were used for taking big game, and spear points did not have to be as small and "aerodynamic" as arrowhead points.

Ernie and many others who read his blog can refer you to local Indian descendants whose history has been passed down from their parents and grandparents. They are the ones who are most closely in touch with the artifacts you found and I'm sure they would be glad to talk to you, in addition to your research at the library and picking the brains of decrepit old non-Indians like me and Ernie and others who think we know what we're talking about. Get more than one opinion and decide for yourself before you give your class presentation.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Great perspectives and insight guys, thanks.
Because announcing locations draws unwanted attention from poachers and feds, artifacts and sensitive sites are the Northcoasts best kept secrets. I imagine that there are some extensive private collections of artifacts.
The Redwood Park Visitor Center Museum at the Burlington Center along the Avenue of the Giants has some locally donated artifacts in their display. How I wish there was an Eel river Indian/White Museum down here!
Mr. Branscomb, why don't you Rotarians do a drive to build a museum center down in our historic park?

Ernie Branscomb said...

Thanks Jim, We may be getting too deep for the boy. He is only 6 1/2 yrs old. But, he has a good Mom sorting things out for him.

When he said that he found them on the top of Pratt Mountain, I groaned a little. I know that the ownership of those lands changed many times. Just 20 miles south, on the Bell Springs Ridge, was a battle ground where the Indians used to fight each other. Why they fought, I don't know, but it was a well known battleground in local folklore. The mountain tops were places that the Indians would search the valleys for game and enemy tribes. I would imagine that there were many conflicts over “the high ground” alone. I was intrigued when he said that the arrowhead was white. White arrowheads were more from the plains Indians. The Indians around here made their arrowheads mostly out of Franciscan chert. Chert is usually various colors of red brown and black. Thought I have seen some lighter colors, but not white.

I put a photo of a tan arrowhead from Humboldt at the bottom of the post.

I agree that not all Indian artifacts should be located. They should be kept away from people that would destroy them. Rocks and carvings are such items. But, I feel differently about arrowheads. I think that just like this young man, they build a healthy curiosity about the Indian people, and the arrowheads are lifelong treasures that are always valued. They are passed from generation to generation. Even the ones that are sold are valued, and they are worth far more if the location that they were found is documented.

Ernie Branscomb said...

As to why not build a museum, that I would also love to see. The Garberville Rotary has donated almost a quarter of a million dollars to the local schools in the past ten years. To take on any other major project would seriously hurt our schools.

Ben said...

I was up on that ridge a ways south of Pratt Mountain a few days ago and was startled to notice chert flakes and some scrapers all over the ground. The local Indians spent their winters down in towns along the river but then went up to favrorite camping places in the hills and ridges for the summer. There are large outcroppings of chert below Pratt Mtn. and they would take it to camp to make tools and arrowheads. My friendTom Keter tells me that bows and arrows are relatively new with our Indians and that spears were used before the bow. there are outcroppings of white chert in Salmon Creek and it was considered special.
When we realize, as Jim pointed out, that these campsites were used for thousands of years itis easier to see why there are so many blades and chips . As Ernie mentions. the rains wash the ridges so that is a good place to look. recently graded dirt roads are good sometimes. I have my father's collection of arrowheads which he made as a boy in Nebraska. He mounted them on a board so he could hang them in his room.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Branscomb, thank you for all that $250,000 (and more I am sure)that your Rotarians have provided for local schools!
My wish for such a museum should not have sounded so demanding. Schools first by all means.

That young man may wish to compare his arrowhead with the few at the aforementioned Redwood Park Burlington Visitor Center, or the more extensive collection at the Clarke Museum.

lodgepole said...

Chapman's Gem and Mineral has a few local ones also, in the museum section.

Ben said...

A few more things... Sometimes Indians carried a sort of short spear with the flint mounted on a stick about one foot long. The big spears were used with a throwing stick that made them go farther with more force. One remarkable thing is that the Indians would run down an elk. Often chasing it for six hours before it would stop. They were in great shape.

Ernie Branscomb said...

I got an email today from our young student. He and his mother are reading this blog.

I checked with and old Indian researcher friend who assured me that, yes indeed there are white chert rocks near Pratt Mountain. So the arrowhead was most likely made right near there. We are still not sure what tribe that the Pratt Mountain Indians would be from. They moved around a lot. There were many skirmishes over territory amongst the Indians. So boundaries moved. The language that the tribes of this area spoke is that same as a tribe in mid Canada spoke. It is called “Athabaskan”. Also, the same language that the Apache Indians of the Plains spoke.

spyrock said...

"The language that the tribes of this area spoke is the same as a tribe in mid Canada spoke. It is called “Athabaskan”. Also, the same language that the Apache Indians of the Plains spoke."

hello, my name is kimo sabe, which means trusted scout according to suzy 2 blahs, the blog muse. because of suzy, i have found out that the athabaskan language may have originated in japan and followed the land bridge from asia into north america through alaska into canada and as far south as the apache which means magnificient people in japanese samurai. the samurai followed the sea lion into america. the name samurai means people of the bow and arrow as does the name ojibwa and algonquin which means to be of the bow and arrowhead. this language may be the american proto language that may originate from an ancient world language.
whether or not the samurai originated in america or japan is up to conjecture because they could have gone both ways several times over the years.
when coronado was looking for cibola, the 7 cities of gold, the indians directed him to the flint hills in kansas. to the indian, the flint arrowhead was the most valuable stone because it not only started fires, it was used in hunting as a weapon. this was quivira, place of the sparking arrowhead stone. so it was bill murray all over again, lost in translation.
the ancient name for japan, "yamato" shows in its pictograph the man with the arrow "ya" hitting the target "mato" another ancient name for japan means "land of the sea lion."
my interest in this stems from the fact that my 5g grandfather was adopted by the shawnee, a southern algonquin band around the time of tecumseh and my great grandmother laura kauble simmerly lived during the 1860's in cahto {laytonville} near the cahto indians who also spoke
athabaskan and i liked the lone ranger as a kid. i found the movie with the original story fyi.
so i hope this story connects you with the larger web of people throughout history known as the brotherhood of the bow and arrow.

Anonymous said...

The Trees of Mystery gift shop has one of the best museum collections of Native American artifacts on the North Coast and is totally free. I always try to stop on my way by and see something new every time.

Anonymous said...

I was lucky enough to find two 2" lightly tumbled semi-transparent light green arrowheads in the riverbed. Has anyone seen this shade?

Ernie Branscomb said...

Yes, I found one that I thought was a piece of a broken coffee cup. I had a cup the exact same color at the time. When I picked it up it turned out to be an arrowhead with the point broken off.

I found it on the very top of Reed Mountain, many years ago. I would bet that is right above where you found yours in the river. Am I right???

Anonymous said...

South is the right direction Ernie, these were found just downstream from Indian creek in Piercy.

JB said...

"semi-transparent light green arrowheads" could indicate that they were glass. Subsequent to the "contact period" when glass became readily available for knapping, it was used for this purpose. I have seen several such examples. Glass is a very workable material, better than most chert, but probably not as good as obsidian. Any experienced flintknappers out there who may be able to comment?

Anonymous said...

No, not glass, they look like a pale jadeite. I am a rockhound and know the difference between glass and a rock. Thanks for the guess tho.

Ernie Branscomb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JB said...

Ernie, I want you to know that I understood your play on words, but in the interest of good taste and out of respect for your more refined readers, I will pretend that I didn't. Your roots are showing.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Okay, but only because this is a school project. I didn't think that my comment was that far off-base. I thought that it was an exceedingly witty play on words that only the very astute could fathom.

Are you sure that you are not my wife? You have the same initials, and the same disapproval of my edgy wit.

Ben said...

Spyrock... Look for a book titled "The Red Road" on the pictographic evidence of the algonquian people's journey from Siberia. You will really enjoy it.

spyrock said...

thanks for the tip ben, of course, i didn't make up that stuff i wrote. it comes from two books, "america...land of the rising sun... was the culture of japan made in usa" and "decoding america's ancient indian languages" both by don smithana of anasazi publishing. i called up don by phone and talked to him for awhile. it's cheaper to buy the books directly from him than amazon. he's a very interesting guy as well.
thanks again