Cutshamache and Cochichawick

Contributed by Ryan Wheeler

What is now called Andover, North Andover, and parts of Lawrence, Massachusetts were once Cochichawick. This is the Indigenous name for the place where many of us work and live. The name persists in Lake Cochichewick in North Andover, Essex County’s largest lake. Indigenous leader Cutshamache transferred the land to English colonists, not through a deed, but rather in an agreement ultimately attested before the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony:

At a General Court, at Boston 6th of the 3rd m, 1646 (in the Gregorian calendar, May 16, 1646)

Cutshamache, sagamore of the Massachusets, came into the Court, and acknowledged that for the sum of 6 pounds & a coat, which he had already received, he had sold to Mr. John Woodbridge, in behalf of the inhabitants of Cochichawick, now called Andover, all his right, interest, and privilege in the land six miles southward from the town, two miles eastward to Rowley bounds, be the same more or less, northward to Merrimack River, provided that the Indian called Roger & his company may have liberty to take alewifes in Cochichawick River, for their own eating; but if they either spoil or steal any corn or other fruit, to any considerable value, of the inhabitants there, this liberty of taking fish shall forever cease; and the said Roger is still to enjoy four acres of ground where now he plants. This purchase the Court allows of, and have granted the said land to belong to the said plantation forever, to be ordered and disposed of by them, reserving liberty to the Court to lay two miles square of their southerly bounds to any town or village that hereafter may be erected thereabouts, if so they see cause.

Cutshamache acknowledged this before the magistrates, and so the Court approved thereof, and of the rest in this bill to be recorded, so as it prejudice no former grant.

Enamel pin created in 1895 by John E. Whiting to commemorate Andover’s 250th anniversary, the origin of the town seal featuring Cutshamache. Collection of the Robert S. Peabody Institute of Archaeology.

The story and its protagonist feature prominently in Andover’s 1895 town seal, where we see Cutshamache holding the coat, part of his payment for the land. Cutshamache appears frequently in the seventeenth century records of the English colony in Massachusetts, ranging from his involvement in the Pequot War to skepticism about missionary John Eliot’s preaching (see Drake 1856). Frank Speck (1928:141), in his discussion of the Punkapog Band of Massachusett, mentions that “the name and pronunciation of Kitchamakin or Cutshamekin are still remembered.” For us, his involvement in selling a large portion of Andover, North Andover, and Lawrence to John Woodbridge sometime in the early 1640s is of greatest interest. Local histories, in books, articles, and now online, frequently repeat the story, and tweak it to fit whatever narrative is being told. In some cases, the currency is converted into modern dollars (a pretty complicated exercise), and in other variants, Cutshamache is described as a Pennacook leader (see the Wikipedia entry for the Town of Andover). The latter makes sense, since the Pennacook, helmed by their leader Passaconaway, are associated with the area around Andover. However, Cutshamache does not appear to have been Pennacook, but was rather a Massachusett leader who lived in what is now Dorchester. The General Court statement clearly identifies him as such. But, this is puzzling, since Dorchester is pretty far from Andover. So what’s going on?

Many authors suggest a family connection between Passaconaway and Cutshamache, possibly based on Sidney Perley’s assertion (1912:35), though I have found no primary sources to support this and this suggested link may just be a way to help explain Cutshamache’s involvement in the sale of the Andover lands. Passaconaway does seem to have created alliances through marriage that crosscut ethnicity and relied more on cultural similarities, creating a heterogeneous coalition distinct from the more homogenous Massachusett (see Cook 1976:29; Stewart-Smith 1998:24-25). What’s more intriguing is the sale of Haverhill in 1642 by Native leaders Passaquo and Saggahew required the consent of Passaconaway (in fact, his consent is mentioned twice in the test of the deed). See the original document and transcript on the Essex National Heritage Area website. The General Court acknowledgment of the Andover, North Andover, and Lawrence sale does not mention Passaconaway, suggesting several possibilities. Perhaps Cutshamache’s less formal court appearance resulted in an omission. But, the court statement includes considerable detail, including the preservation of land and fishing rights for Roger and his company, Indigenous residents of the area.

Tile mosaic version of Andover’s town seal in the foyer of the Town Hall by Perley Gilbert and Elias Galassi. Photograph by Ryan Wheeler, February 3, 2020.

Archaeologist Eric Johnson (1999:155), in his book chapter on Native political geography, provides a different way of thinking about Indigenous groups in the area during the seventeenth century that helps inform Cutshamache’s sale of Cochichawick. Johnson says, “What does a map of bounded tribes imply about political organization? It implies stasis and homogeneity, both within and among political units.” He attributes this to the desire of colonial European observers to describe unfamiliar people and places in a familiar way—through the lens of political organization in seventeenth century Europe. This plagues our understanding today—we want carefully delineated maps that show the boundaries of Indigenous lands, matching those of city, county, and state political entities. Johnson (1999:158) argues for a different model to understand the geography of the area that takes into account the dynamic and heterogeneous polities. Further, he suggests that groups in the region consisted of autonomous communities that regularly underwent expansion, contraction, and internal upheaval, depending on a variety of socio-political strategies at play among leaders and group members. Alliances, often transitory, could result in confederacies of autonomous groups, as well as splintering and new alliances. Confederations were based on real and fictive kinship relationships between principal leaders and those of local communities; autonomy of local communities varied greatly depending on the leadership qualities of the principal leader, overall group size, geographic distances between communities, and genealogical connections (Johnson 1999:161). Within this context, Kathleen Bragdon (2009:206-209), in her second book on the Native people of the Northeast, points to connections between Indigenous communities across the region, stating, “linkages between the Pennacooks and Pawtuckets of the Merrimac drainage of what is now northeastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire, show connections ranging as far south and east as Natick and Charlestown. Other historical evidence shows marriage ties between Pennacooks and Pawtuckets with Niantics and Wamesits as well.”

Intertribal relations just at the time of European conquest illustrate the linkages that likely characterize the area. After the devastating epidemic of 1619, Indigenous allies of the French raided the lower Merrimack. Passaconaway was the Pennacook sachem at the time. His Pawtucket counterpart, Nanepashemet, was killed around present-day Medford or Malden and his widow assumed the role of sachem. Two of her sons married Passaconaway’s daughters, cementing the Pennacook-Pawtucket alliance. According to historian David Stewart-Smith (1998:24-25), Passaconaway (also called Papisseconnewa) was acknowledged as the leader of Pawtucket, Agawam, and Piscataqua, though each group retained local leaders as well. He explains that it is helpful to think of the larger tribal designations as “aggregations of allied family territories,” including Pennacook, Pawtucket, Massachusett, Nipmuc, and others (Stewart-Smith 1998:28). The divisions were not hard lines, but rather fluctuated with marriages and other connections.

View of Lake Cochichewick from the Brooks School, North Andover Massachusetts, January 15, 2012. John Phelan, CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Historian Peter Leavenworth (1999:277) explains the ways in which Pennacook-Pawtucket lands moved into English ownership in the seventeenth century, principally through legal means, but also via violent incursions. He also documents important instances where Indigenous people resisted land loss. Leavenworth describes a violent attack against the Pennacook during King Philip’s War (1675-78), but helps us understand that the extensive transfers of land, through deeds or appearances in the General Court like Cutshamache’s, occurred during the 1640s, following the smallpox epidemic of 1633-34 and decisions by Passaconaway, including the belief that Indigenous people could share land with the English. According to Leavenworth (1999:281), there were serious misunderstandings in terms of what was happening, especially as these more informal land “sales” occurred: English colonists believed they were buying large tracts of land, while the Indigenous “sellers” believed they retained their usufruct rights. This is reflected in Cutshamache’s sale of Cochichawick, which references Roger and his group’s continuing rights to at least some small part of the landscape and fishing rights (check out this interactive map site that shows Rogers Brook in Andover, namesake of the seventeenth century Indigenous inhabitant). Leavenworth also documents an interesting shift in acceptable payment—at first the English were buying land for clothing, tools, ornaments and other trade goods, but apparently by 1650, the Indigenous people of the area would only accept currency. Cutshamache’s sale involves both—6 pounds in money, and a coat (interestingly, an earlier order by the General Court in 1642 directed that a coat be given to Cutshamache, perhaps the coat referenced in the 1646 appearance?).

So, there’s a lot to unpack in Cutshamache’s sale of Cochichawick. Most notable are the traditional cultural patterns that involved seasonal movements, settlement, and marriage that linked widely dispersed groups versus our modern desire to have Indigenous people fit into neat territories that align with historical and modern municipal, county, state, and national boundaries. It’s also impossible to think about this outside the devastating disruptions wrought by European incursions and the attendant diseases and demographic shifts (Strobel 2020:71-75). For example, Daniel Gookin, one of the English colonists, recorded 3,000 Pawtucket men in the earliest days of European conquest, but by 1674, the tribe had been reduced to “not above 250 men.” Within this milieu—traditional Indigenous practices, the disease and disruptions brought by the English, and attempts to adapt—land moved from Native to European hands.

For an Indigenous perspective, check out the detailed histories, timelines, and more on the Massachusett Tribe at Ponkapoag’s website. Here you can learn about the modern day Massachusett, their history, as well as ongoing initiatives, like work on the newly created Massachusetts state seal commission. If you would like to learn more about the Abenaki tribes in nearby New Hampshire and Vermont, start with the website of the Cowasuck Band of the Pennacook-Abenaki. There you can learn about history and contemporary initiatives of the Abenaki, who have close ties to the Native inhabitants of the Andover area.

References Cited and Further Reading

Bragdon, Kathleen J.

2009 Native People of Southern New England 1650 – 1775. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman.

Cook, Sherburne F.

1976 The Indian Population of New England in the Seventeenth Century. University of California Publications in Anthropology Vol. 12. University of California Press, Berkeley.

Drake, Samuel G.

1856 Biography and History of the Indians of North America, from its first discovery. Sanborn, Carter, and Bazin, Boston.

Johnson, Eric S.

1999 Community and Confederation: A Political Geography of Contact Period Southern New England. In The Archaeological Northeast, edited by Mary Ann Levine, Kenneth E. Sassaman, and Michael S. Nassaney, pp. 155-168. Bergin & Garvey, Westport, CT.

Leavenworth, Peter S.

1999 “The Best Title That Indians Can Claime:” Native Agency and Consent in the Transferal of Penacook-Pawtucket Land in the Seventeenth Century. The New England Quarterly 72(2):275-300.

Perley, Sidney

1912 Indian Land Titles, Essex County, Massachusetts. Riverside Press, Cambridge (for Essex Book and Print Club).

Speck, Frank G.

1928 Territorial Subdivisions of the Wampanoag, Massachusett, and Nauset Indians. Indian Notes and Monographs No. 44. Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation, New York.

Stewart-Smith, David

1998 The Pennacook Indians and the New England Frontier, circa 1604 – 1733. PhD dissertation, Union Institute, Cincinnati OH.

Strobel, Christoph

2020 Native Americans of New England. Praeger, Santa Barbara CA.

Missing the Meaning – Understanding the Material Culture of Protest

Contributed by Lindsay Randall

Recently I collaborated with Dr. Miriam Villanueva of the Department of History and Social Science at Phillips Academy to create a new lesson that focused on both the American Indian Movement and the takeover of Alcatraz Island in 1969 by Native activists. 

Our focus was to have students understand how Native protests are centered around issues regarding tribal sovereignty, treaty rights, and meaningful intergovernmental consultation. We also sought to highlight how the ignorance of the American public regarding these issues perpetuates misconceptions about these protests while also connecting them to modern issues.

To do this we examined two protest signs; one from the 1969 Alcatraz Occupation and one from the recent Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL)/Standing Rock protests. 

We asked the students to investigate the two types of meaning perceived in each of the signs: 

1.) the general public’s understanding of the sign. 

2.) the message the originator of the sign intended to convey. 

During the activity the students worked together to create the following interpretations of each of the protest signs we examined, based on other contextual information that we used.

For background information about the Alcatraz Protest

Incorrect Response: Native Americans are welcomed at the Island because it has always been Indian Land.
Correct Response: It is a commentary on how white people have simply taken what they wanted and Native people are now just simply playing by the same rules.

The students came to the conclusion that this particular sign is meant more as a commentary on the method used to claim Native land in the past – and less about saying all land was once Native land – when they read the following passage from the Proclamation written by Richard Oaks and other protesters at Alcatraz.

Proclamation to the Great White Father and All His People

We, the native Americans, re-claim the land known as Alcatraz Island in the name of all American Indians by right of discovery.
We wish to be fair and honorable in our dealings with the Caucasian inhabitants of this land, and hereby offer the following treaty:

We will purchase said Alcatraz Island for twenty-four dollars ($24) in glass beads and red cloth, a precedent set by the white man's purchase of a similar island about 300 years ago. We know that $24 in trade goods for these 16 acres is more than was paid when Manhattan Island was sold, but we know that land values have risen over the years. Our offer of $1.24 per acre is greater than the 47¢ per acre that the white men are now paying the California Indians for their land. We will give to the inhabitants of this island a portion of that land for their own, to be held in trust by the American Indian Affairs [sic] and by the bureau of Caucasian Affairs to hold in perpetuity—for as long as the sun shall rise and the rivers go down to the sea. We will further guide the inhabitants in the proper way of living. We will offer them our religion, our education, our life-ways, in order to help them achieve our level of civilization and thus raise them and all their white brothers up from their savage and unhappy state. We offer this treaty in good faith and wish to be fair and honorable in our dealings with all white men.

Next we turned our attention to the recent protests around the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Standing Rock Sioux community. For background information on the DAPL/Standing Rock protests.

Incorrect Response: The protesters are violent!
Correct Response: The sign is satire and a play on “Kill the Indian, Save the Man” policy.

To interpret this particular sign the students drew upon their knowledge of Indian Boarding Schools that we covered in Fall Term. They remembered the program of “Kill the Indian, Save the Man” that lead to the creation of the Indian boarding schools.

The students thoughtfully came to the conclusion that the protester was mimicking the phrase “Kill the Indian, Save the Man” to imply that if one removes the capitalist nature of the “Pilgrim” (or white man) that the water and environment will be saved.

We then ended the lesson with a group discussion about how these protests are all connected to each other while at the same time connected to sites and ancestors that are thousands of years old. The students also came up with possible solutions to ensure that the public has a better understanding of the reasons behind the protests so that their ultimate goals are not misinterpreted, thus undermining the power of the protest.

The conversations and points that the students in each of Dr. V’s three classes were incredibly thoughtful and perceptive. Both Dr. V and I thought that this was one of our best lessons that we have created because it seamlessly brought together modern and historical issues while engaging students in close reading of primary sources, mirroring the exact process that students are currently working through for their History 300 research papers.

Much of this lesson was based on the amazing work of April Beisaw and Glynnis E. Olin in their article From Alcatraz to Standing Rock: Archaeology and Contemporary Native American Protests (1969-Today)

The Shadow of Scotty MacNeish

Contributed by Marla Taylor

This month marks the 103rd birthday of Richard “Scotty” MacNeish (1918-2001) – past Director of the Peabody Institute, unconfirmed winner of the 1938 Golden Glove award (a regional amateur boxing title), member of the National Academy of Sciences, and all-around remarkable 20th century archaeologist.  When starting to pull this post together, I found this quote describing MacNeish and could not resist including it here:

A strange, bifurcated goatee decorates his chin, and there is a shimmering reddishness about his hair and face. He has spent, literally, more than 20 years in the field — longer than any other archaeologist. He has published more than 400 books and articles. Despite two heart bypass operations, he retains the pounding mental metabolism of a furious shrew. (“Bones to Pick Archaeology” by Richard O’Mara in the Baltimore Sun, May 16, 1996)

Ok, in my first draft of this blog, I listed information about MacNeish’s professional positions and tried to summarize his career.  That turned into something far too long and meandering to share.  So, instead, I will point you to the wonderful short biography from the Peabody Institute archival catalog records and the much more in-depth biographical memoir from the National Academy of Sciences.  I will use this space to highlight his impact at the Peabody Institute and my daily work.

Throughout his career, MacNeish sought the intertwined origins of agriculture and civilization.  He excavated in North America, Peru, Mexico (Tamaulipas, Tehuacán, Coxcatlan, and Palo Blanco), Belize, and China while searching for the early domestication of corn and rice.  Because of this particular interest, the Peabody Institute is home to a number of plant remains and botanical specimens.  Some of these tiny early maize cobs are an important part of a much larger story on the origin of modern corn.  I have a love/hate relationship with these specimen.  They are so fascinating but also so delicate – I want to share them, but decades of storage without climate control have left them brittle.  Gentle handling is required for sure!

MacNeish was also particularly interested in excavating sites that would push back the archaeological framework for understanding when people arrived in the New World.  I think it appealed to his pugnacious disposition to tell everyone else that they were wrong.  His work is proving relevant as Indigenous scholars push to rewrite the archaeological understanding of the Americas.  I love this aspect of MacNeish’s work and hope that more people will come to utilize these collections.

MacNeish kept EVERYTHING from his research and excavations – a double-edged sword for collections management.  This applies less to the object collections (MacNeish was not always allowed to retain the artifacts he excavated in foreign countries) but very much applies to his archivesHis archives include everything from thank you cards to financial records to drafts of publications to excavation images.  With over 100 boxes of archival material, I am confident that I can find the documentation that anyone is looking for – but I am regularly daunted by volume of material.

If all of that wasn’t enough, MacNeish continues to influence how the Peabody Institute’s collection grows.  We recently received archival gifts from his associates Jane Libby and Dr. James Neely documenting their work with MacNeish and beyond.  Once these collections are processed, I will be happy to share the relevant finding aids. Well, I haven’t even mentioned MacNeish’s reputation as a passionately supportive teacher – or what his archives reveal about his feelings toward those who disagreed with him – or his reputation as a flirt.  Alas, we must draw a line somewhere in this conversation.  Clearly there is so much to say about Scotty MacNeish!   I wish I had been fortunate enough to meet him before he passed, but I am fortunate enough to work in his shadow at the Peabody.

Behind the Photograph: Unpacking the Peabody Collection

Contributed by Emma Lavoie

Throughout history we have used images to tell a story and to document a period or memory in time. Today our society continues to find ways to connect and communicate through social media and digital platforms, using images to share their lives and stories more than ever.

The Peabody collection contains more than 600,000 artifacts, photographs, and documents. The Peabody’s photograph collection, specifically, is extensive and contains many interesting, yet untold stories. To bring these stories and photographs to light, we would like to share them with YOU, fellow readers, in our new blog series, Behind the Photograph.

Our inspiration for this new series of blogs was a photograph of Warren K. Moorehead and the Fort Ancient excavation in Ohio. You can view this story here! To kick off the Behind the Photograph blog series, we’d like to share a second photograph from the Peabody collections.

Students unpack Robert S. Peabody’s collections in the school gymnasium, circa 1901. Lantern slide, from the photographic collections, Robert S. Peabody Institute of Archaeology

This photograph is a lantern slide from the Peabody’s photographic collections. The photograph depicts Phillips Academy students in 1901 unpacking Robert S. Peabody’s donated collections in the school’s old gymnasium. The old gymnasium was located in the Brick Academy – the gym incarnation of Bulfinch Hall. At the time, a new gym (Borden Gymnasium) and the Archaeology Department (later known as the Robert S. Peabody Institute of Archaeology) were in the process of being designed and built on the Phillips Academy campus. In June 1896, fire had gutted the gym leaving the brick walls intact. Although the building was re-roofed, it went largely unused until the Peabody collection was sorted and stored there in 1901.

Earlier in this same year, the Archaeology Department was founded on March 21st at a Trustees meeting held in Boston. An endowment and collection were given from an anonymous donor, now known to be Robert S. Peabody. The school chose Principal Bancroft of the Academy, Professor Warren K. Moorehead, and Dr. Charles Peabody (founder’s son) as the officers of the Archaeology Department. Warren K. Moorehead served as the curator and chief executive officer of the department, while Charles Peabody served as honorary director. For more information on the founding of the Peabody Institute, check out this article from the Phillips Academy student newspaper, the Phillipian.

As the development and construction of the Archaeology Department building was underway, archaeology classes and the Archaeology Department’s collections were held in the old gymnasium. An article from the Phillipian states that Dr. Peabody and Professor Moorehead wished to unpack certain specimens and students would not attend lectures for some weeks. Instead, students met in the old gym to unpack Robert S. Peabody’s founding collection and begin preliminary sorting of the artifacts before they were relocated to the completed Archaeology Building several years later. The 1901 article states that “students found the laboratory work unique and interesting.”

If you look closely in the image, you will see a man standing in the background to the left of the long work table. It certainly looks like Warren K. Moorehead overseeing the sorting and work of the students. Also in the image are the very wooden drawers that are still located at the Peabody today!

In an effort to maintain the sustainability and integrity of the Peabody’s collections, the Peabody collection team is working to rehouse all artifacts from these wooden drawers to acid free collection boxes to better preserve and protect the collection materials. It is our hope in the future to provide proper storage space and conditions that match the preservation needs of our collections.

As more and more wooden drawers are emptied through our inventory and rehousing project, we no longer have use for them. As a result of this, we recently began giving away these wooden drawers to those who may find ways to repurpose them through various DIY projects. You can check out these projects here, here, and here!

If you are interested in having your very own historic drawer, you can contact me at elavoie@andover.edu to schedule a safe and socially distanced pickup. (Who knows… you may even get one of the drawers that were originally in this photograph!)

This image marks a significant time in the Peabody’s history, representing the introduction of archaeology to PA students and the birth of the Peabody Institute and its collections. To learn more about archaeology at Phillips Academy check out Peabody Director, Dr. Ryan Wheeler’s blog and article, Archaeology in the Classroom at a New England Prep School.

Hello Spring!

Contributed by Emily Hurley

After months of cold temperatures and snow storms I’m sure we’re all looking forward to spring and warmer weather! This year the first day of spring, or the spring equinox, takes place on March 20th. To some, equinoxes mark nothing more than seasons passing by. But to others, they were and still are an important time for celebration.

For many Indigenous cultures around the world, the spring equinox is an important time for not only practical, but also ceremonial purposes. Equinoxes were traditionally used to determine what animals would be available for hunting, when to plant and harvest crops, and they marked periods of migration for nomadic groups.

The equinox is marked differently by Indigenous nations around the world, but because tracking the sun’s movements was essential for survival, some cultures found ways to do so in the form of solar calendars. The Maya calendar is perhaps the most well-known of these but there were many others. The Mayans also created other ways to track the sun. The Pyramid of Kulkulkan (or El Castillo) at the site of Chichén Itzá in the Yucatán Peninsula, displays a serpent along the staircase during the equinox. Many still flock to the site on the equinox to see the serpent today.

Image showing the descent of Kulkulkan at Chichén Itzá, March 21st 2009. Image courtesy of Bmamlin, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

At the prehistoric site of Cahokia in Illinois, archaeologists in the 1960s discovered pits arranged into five large circles. Fragments of wood inside the pits indicated that sacred red cedar wood had been used as posts. Archaeologists dubbed this area as “Woodhenge” after realizing that some of the posts act as seasonal markers, marking the solstices and equinoxes. On the day of the spring equinox, the post marking this event aligns with Monk’s Mound (the largest Pre-Columbian earthwork in the Americas and the residence of the leader of Cahokia), where the sun emerges from behind the mound.

An artist’s conception of Woodhenge at sunrise, circa 1000 CE. Image courtesy of Herb Roe, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons
The reconstructed Woodhenge at the site of Cahokia, 2010. Image courtesy of Ryan Wheeler.
Ryan Wheeler visiting the reconstructed Woodhenge at the site of Cahokia, 2010. Image courtesy of Ryan Wheeler.

Another example of using the sun to create certain images is found at the site of Chaco Canyon in New Mexico. At the top of the Fajada Butte are two spirals etched into the rock which on the equinox, are sliced by a dagger of sunlight, called the “Sun Dagger.” Unfortunately the rocks on the butte have shifted, possibly due to human traffic at the site, and now the sunlit images no longer appear. At other areas of the Chaco Canyon site, interred bird bones have been discovered, and archaeologists believe these were the result of sacrificing scarlet macaws during the equinox. Due to their red and yellow feathers, these birds were associated with the sun and fire, and it is thought that sacrificing them during the equinox was a symbolic way of ending the winter season. This was also a common practice among groups throughout the Southwest and Northern Mexico.

Fajade Butte in 2015. Image courtesy of Rationalobserver, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
A diagram of the sunlit areas that were present during equinoxes and solstices at Fajada Butte. The spring, or vernal equinox, is in the center. Image courtesy of Nationalparks, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

In the Anishinaabe tradition, spring is celebrated as the beginning of their new year. Known as the Sugar Moon, this was the time when maple sap would start to run from the trees. Maple sap is considered to have important medicinal properties to the Anishinaabe as it balanced the blood.

Spring traditions in many native cultures are inextricably linked to the sun and moon, as the beginning of spring is marked by the equinox. It was a time symbolic of balance, because during the equinox day and night are of equal length. Spring has also historically symbolized rebirth and growth. It is the time when the earth is awakening from its winter slumber, and the life cycle is beginning again. Animals come out of hibernation and plants begin to bloom and grow again. Many traditions that have grown out of the equinox are based around this idea of balance and new beginnings.

Spring was also recognized by many Native American groups as a time to gather together and make decisions about their communities. It was a time to discuss which groups travelled where, what to do about hostile tribes, and where they could find resources. Today, many Indigenous groups still hold spring equinox gatherings and celebrations, which generally include music, dancing, ritual ceremonies, arts and crafts, and a feast of traditional dishes.

While spring traditions may look different to everyone, I think most can agree that it is a time of growth and fresh starts. With the upcoming season we have a lot to look forward to. We get to smell the fresh, clean air after a spring rain and watch flowers start to bloom. And let’s not forget about spring cleaning! Hopefully warmer weather and fun spring activities are right around the corner!

For further reading check out these resources:

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/160317-spring-vernal-equinox-astronomy-native-american

http://blog.nativepartnership.org/spring-equinox-in-native-american-cultures/

http://muskratmagazine.com/indigenous-calendars-mark-much-more-than-the-spring-equinox/

dIPPIN’ iN: Quick Conversations with Archaeologists

Contributed by Lindsay Randall

Given how wildly successful our Diggin’ In: Digital Lecture series has been, we wanted to expand how our audiences can interact with archaeologists from around the country. 

Our new project – dIPPIN’ IN: Quick Conversations with Archaeologists – highlights the variety of jobs and experiences archaeologists can have by asking each person the same five questions:

  • Describe what kind of archaeology you focus on.
  • How did you get into archaeology?
  • Why should we care about archaeology and history?
  • What is the most exciting thing you ever found?
  • Anything else people should know about archaeology?

It is fascinating to learn about each archaeologist’s career path and what initially hooked them. And, while some answers have been remarkedly similar many are wildly different!

If you want a glimpse into the exciting field of archaeology through the personal lens of an archaeologist, this series is for you.

As we continue to add to the series, you can find the videos here.

And, if you are an archaeologist who wants to participate or if there is someone you want us to interview – let us know!

Warren K. Moorehead and the Peabody Institute

Contributed by Marla Taylor

When thinking about the collections held by the Peabody Institute, I often also think of Warren K. Moorehead.  Regular readers of the blog (I know there are a few of you out there!) are certainly familiar with his name and how tightly he is intertwined with the Peabody.  To recognize Moorehead’s 155th birthday this week, I wanted to take a few minutes to share some of his story. 

Warren King Moorehead, 1898

Warren King Moorehead (1866-1939) grew up in Ohio, where he cultivated a lifelong interest in archaeology and Native Americans.  In his early career, he worked as a correspondent for The Illustrated American and served as the first curator of archaeology for the Ohio Archaeological Society (now the Ohio History Connection).  In 1896, he began what would become a personal friendship with Robert S. Peabody, providing him with several Indigenous artifact collections.  When Mr. Peabody chose to donate his collection to Phillips Academy in 1901, he appointed Moorehead as the first curator of the Department of Archaeology.  Moorehead served in that capacity until 1924 when he then assumed the directorship.  He finally retired in 1938, only a year before his passing.

Throughout his career, Moorehead was a prolific writer, excavator, and collector.  His large-scale archaeological surveys and excavations included the Arkansas River Valley, northwest Georgia, the Southwest, and coastal and interior Maine.  His work directly contributed to expanding the Peabody’s collection by approximately 200,000 objects. 

Moorehead and crew doing a survey along the Merrimack River

However, it must be acknowledged that Moorehead’s field and collection techniques are quite shocking by modern archaeological and museum standards.  Early in his career, particularly in Ohio and Georgia, Moorehead would use horse drawn plows to cut into carefully constructed mounds.  Often, his work was destructive yet superficial – he would level or bisect the mounds and collect what was of interest to him with relatively little note taking. 

Moorehead was also a dealer – he regularly facilitated trades between institutions and with private collectors to fund his own work or to “remove duplicates.”  Definitely something that would never be done now.  And, it created lots of headaches.

Paradoxically, Moorehead simultaneously served on the federal Board of Indian Commissioners from 1908-1933.  His work there focused on injustices committed against contemporary Native Americans.  He was present at Wounded Knee shortly before the infamous massacre there on December 29, 1890.  He took testimony to investigate the bribery and redirection of funds in the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota.  Moorehead wrote The American Indian in the United States, Period 1850-1914 to share his thoughts on the work of the Board of Indian Commissioners and expose the abuses of power that he saw. 

Source: Ohiohistory.org

It is perplexing to me that Moorehead was able to see the injustices done to contemporary tribes, but continue to be seemingly unaware that the material that he avidly collected and traded was connected to those same people.  I firmly believe that Moorehead is an excellent candidate for a riveting biography.  Anyone out there have the time to write it??

Need Help with NAGPRA?

Contributed by Ryan Wheeler

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act became law thirty years ago. NAGPRA fundamentally changed the relationship between tribes, archaeologists, and museums, but there are still many challenges. Museums have over 120,000 Native American ancestral remains and some institutions have not yet consulted with tribes.

Image of tribal representatives in the Peabody Institute collection space with Marla Taylor, curator of collections
Marla Taylor (right), Peabody curator of collections, with Nekole Alligood (left) and Susan Bachor, representatives of the Delaware tribes, during a consultation meeting.

At the New England Museum Association annual meeting in November 2020 the Peabody Institute partnered with experts from tribes, museums, and federal agencies to answer questions about and discuss NAGPRA in a relaxed, welcoming, and no pressure workshop format. Seventy museum professionals participated, and we’ve had an opportunity to follow up with many of those folx since the workshop.

Representatives from the White Earth Band of Chippewa Indians during a repatriation with members of the Peabody Institute staff. From left to right: Bob Shimek, Kayla Olson, Ryan Wheeler, Merlin Deegan, and Bonnie Sousa.

But don’t fear! If you couldn’t make the November workshop, we are still available to help you, wherever you are in the process. NAGPRA might seem a little daunting at first, so if you would like to chat with Peabody Institute personnel, or get some specific advice on how to move forward, we are here to support you. Contact Peabody Institute director Ryan Wheeler at rwheeler@andover.edu to set up a time to talk.

NAGPRA Resources

NAGPRA Community of Practice: Hosted by the University of Denver, this is a great space to ask questions and connect with others engaged in repatriation. Consider joining one of the Zoom calls that happen twice a month: https://liberalarts.du.edu/anthropology-museum/nagpra/community-practice

National NAGPRA Website: This is the National Park Service’s newly redesigned website with everything you need to get started, including links to the NAGPRA law and rule, databases, templates, and advice on how to get started: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/nagpra/index.htm

NAGPRA Data Visualization: Curious about how NAGPRA has been implemented in your area or across the country? Check out Melanie O’Brien’s NAGPRA Data Visualization on Tableau: https://public.tableau.com/profile/melanie.obrien#!/vizhome/NAGPRA-Totals/1_Reported

From the Peabody With Love

Contributed by Emma Lavoie

To celebrate Valentine’s Day this month, the Peabody would like to highlight some love-related objects from our collection. From heart-shaped designs to meanings of love, we hope these featured artifacts give you that “loving feeling.”

Venus Figurine (59953)

Venus – the goddess of love and beauty – is a common figurine found in museums and archaeological excavations. Venus figurines such as those in the Peabody collection, were used in various ways such as offerings, ritual practices, and as grave goods in burials. For more on these figurines and their history check out this article from Current Anthropology by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research.

This artifact is a dark green plaster cast reproduction of a Venus figurine. The original figurine was made of crystalline talc and was excavated from the Grimaldi Caves in Italy. The figurine, known as Pulcinella or the Venus of Polichinelle, is dated to the Aurignacian or Upper Paleolithic period (about 40,000 – 10,000 BCE). The cast figurine was acquired by Warren K. Moorehead in 1925 on one of his trips to Europe. The figurine reproduction is a part of the Peabody’s education collection.

Cast reproduction of a Venus figurine from Italy.

Heart Padlock (107/7688)

Heart-shaped locks have their origins in a Scandinavian-style padlock. These locks were made with various metals such as brass, bronze, and cast iron. The two key characteristics of a traditional heart lock were a spring-loaded keyhole cover called a “drop” that would keep dirt and insects out of the lock (not present on this specific artifact) and a metal loop so a chain could be placed through it to prevent the lock from getting lost or stolen. Source: “The History of Padlocks,” Lock Blog. United Locksmith. 2021.

This large metal padlock was excavated by Adelaide and Ripley Bullen in the summer of 1943. The padlock was found in a dump pile southwest of the cellar hole at the Lucy Foster site, the nineteenth century Andover homestead of an emancipated African American woman. Ripley was employed as a student assistant at the Peabody during the 1940s, and Adelaide helped with the library and other tasks; both of their sons graduated from Phillips Academy. You can learn more about Adelaide Kendall Bullen and the Lucy Foster site from the following blogs: Women of the Peabody, Peabody at the Smithsonian, and Lucy Foster’s Ceramic Collection.

These heart-shaped locks remind me of the Pont des Arts, the famous Lock Bridge in Paris, France. I had first visited this bridge in high school on a study-abroad trip where I fell in love with the story of the Love Lock Bridge (no pun intended). The Pont des Arts is right near the Louvre and crosses the Seine River. The tradition is for lovers to attach personalized padlocks to its railing and throw the keys away in the Seine River. While the tradition did not originate in Paris, it is the most famous destination and is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 2015, the French government began to remove the padlocks (45 tons in total!) from the bridge in order to protect the historical structure. For more on this tradition and the efforts for its removal, visit here.

One large heart-shaped padlock excavated from the Lucy Foster Site in 1943.

Wedding Vessel (2018.5.4)

The hand painted, ceramic vessel is a Jemez wedding vase made by artist Andrea Fragua, from the Pueblo of Jemez, New Mexico. The wedding vase plays a significant part in traditional marriage ceremonies. The two spouts represent the separate lives of the to-be married couple. The bridge at the top unites the two spouts. The vase is filled with holy water or herbal infused tea and the couple drinks from their respective side. If the couple manages to drink from the vase together without spilling, they will have a strong relationship. This ceremony is similar to the exchanging of wedding rings. Source: “Pueblo Wedding Vases,” Toh-Atin Gallery. Durango, CO. 2021.

Friend of the Peabody, Dominique Toya, fired a wedding vase in summer 2020. Dominque is an artist and educator from the Pueblo of Jemez. For five years now, the Toya family (Dominque, Maxine, and Mia Toya) have visited Phillips Academy to make traditional Pueblo pottery with PA students through Thayer Zaeder’s ceramic classes. To learn more about these visits check out this blog. To view the live firing of a wedding vase by Dominique Toya check it out here!

Wedding vessel used in marriage ceremonies.

Rehousing a vessel with salt damage

Contributed by John Bergman-McCool

In January, the HVAC system in one of our collection storage areas malfunctioned. Repair work required that the system was turned off for several days. During this time, we monitored the objects for any changes. One vessel caught our eye.

Thanks to Marla’s experience with the collection, she noticed that previously documented spalling due to salt efflorescence was likely developing further (see figure). A quick look at older photographs confirmed that the damage had indeed progressed. The vessel was stored on open shelving and an inspection of the area around the object determined that no fragments had fallen completely off. We decided to rehouse the vessel in a box to buffer it against changes in environment during the current or future failure of the HVAC system.

Figure 1. Rehoused vessel in open box

Since I’ve encountered salt efflorescence a few times, I thought I’d add a bit more information. Porous materials, like bone, ceramic and stone, can absorb salt from various sources. Once inside, salts can be dissolved by moisture in the air through a process called deliquescence. Eventually, the water evaporates and the salt recrystallizes. In very porous objects, the salt crystals form on the surface. In objects where the surface is less porous than the underlying body, recrystallized salt can generate massive forces than can spall or pit the surface (Source: NPS Conserv O Gram 06/05 page 1). In worst case scenarios objects can disintegrate.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, salts can enter porous objects through groundwater or seawater in buried or submerged contexts (Source: NPS Conserv O Gram 06/05 page 1). They are a major source of salt in archaeological collections such as ours. In the case of ceramics, food and water stored in objects during their pre-burial use life can also leave salt residues (Source: Minnesota Historical Society Page 2). Salts can be introduced to ceramics during manufacture through additives that modify the clay body and through water (Source: Minnesota Historical Society Page 2, Source: Digital Fire). Even clay itself can be salty. When I lived in Arizona, I can remember hearing a potter discuss that they would check their clay by tasting it to make sure it wasn’t too salty.

After ceramic objects are recovered during excavation, salts can continue to be added in archaeological labs and museums. Hydrochloric acid has been used to remove calcium carbonate, an insoluble salt that adheres to ceramics during burial that impedes analysis. An unintended result of this process creates calcium chloride, a soluble salt, which is absorbed into the ceramic matrix (Source: The International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works- Studies in Conservation Page 172, Source: NPS Conserv O Gram 06/05 Page 2). I would be highly doubtful of repairs that were done years ago. Without detailed treatment records, who knows what glues were used and what contaminants they might introduce.

Figure 2. Spalling due to efflorescence

Deliquescence and evaporation of soluble salts can be greatly diminished by keeping the storage environment below 60% relative humidity and by reducing humidity and temperature fluctuations (Source: NPS Conserv O Gram 05/06 Page 3). However, there is a continued danger of efflorescence. Display cases and storage shelving made from wood have the potential to release acetic acids. This volatile organic compound has the potential to interact with soluble salts leading to precipitation even in controlled storage environments (Source: ICOM Committee for Conservation Page 640).

There may not be quick or inexpensive solutions to mitigate efflorescence. Our current plans for renovation of Peabody collections spaces call for the replacement of wood drawers and cabinets, but this is expensive. In regards to removing salt from objects, the traditional method is through a desalination wash or soak, wherein the object is immersed in distilled or deionized water until the salt level is reduced. This is a complicated process and shouldn’t be done without involving a conservator. Desalination risks removing important residues and compounds that can reduce the usefulness of the objects for future analysis and weaken the object (Source: NPS Conserv O Gram 05/06 Page 3).

Here at the Peabody we’ve taken steps to remove salt through dry brushing, environmental controls, and monitoring. In the future, we have plans to improve our storage space so that these issues will no longer be a concern.