Buried Alive: A Grave Situation for W.K. Moorehead

Contributed by Emma Lavoie

Example of the sheer size of an earthen wall and the dangers of excavating and tunneling into mounds.
Washout on the wall, west side of new fort, Station 363, Fort Ancient site, Ohio.
Peabody Photo Collections, Plate IX

Originally, I was going to share a blog about tuberculosis and its connection to the Peabody collections, but when this story came up in my research, it was too interesting to set aside to wait another month! For those who are intrigued by how consumption is tied to the Peabody and its collections, you’ll have to wait in anticipation for another month.

I must first give special thanks to the Peabody’s independent researcher, Adam Way, who found this story in an article from the Phillips Academy student newspaper, the Phillipian. This was hours after I asked him to keep his eyes peeled for specific details about Moorehead. What a happy coincidence this find made for my research. Thank you again Adam!

During his excavations in the summer of 1888, Warren K. Moorehead was buried by a cave-in which almost cost him his life. To best share this story, I think it would be best for you to hear some of the story from W.K. Moorehead yourself!

After all, the fall season is upon us and where many believe Moorehead’s spirit lives on within the Peabody’s walls, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate time for him to share this near-death experience in his own words. Enjoy!

According to Moorehead’s Field Diary of an Archaeological Collector, 1902, and his written account for the journal, Science, Moorehead was excavating a large mound near Frankfort, Ross County, Ohio in August 1888.

“Here a serious accident befell me… as I bent down to examine a small bone uncovered in the process of undermining, a mass of earth equal to several cartloads suddenly dropped from above.” 

– W.K. Moorehead, Field Diary of an Archaeological Collector (1902)

As Moorehead bent down to examine the bone, the workmen climbed out of the unit to cut down the undermined wall of the mound. As a result, the wall of earth fell upon Moorehead burying him alive.

“The rush of wind it causes I well remember. My head and shoulders were somewhat higher than my legs, possibly a foot. The feet were spread apart. There was little pain, only pressure, intense pressure. It forced the buttons of my light field costume partly inside the flesh; my watch-chain left a bright-red mark along my left side. I could feel the watch strongly pressed against two ribs (these were broken.) The skin over my forehead seemed being cut, but it was the pressure of my hat forcing the flesh between the laced straws. A knife in my pocket seemed burningly hot. Just under the small of my back lay a large clod. The pain at the point of contact was considerable at times, and my spinal column seemed slowly breaking. Then the pain stopped and I could feel nothing.”

– W. K. Moorehead, Buried Alive – One’s Sensations and Thoughts (1893)

Throughout this entire experience, Moorehead described being unable to move, unable to breathe, unable to even wink. He recounts how hot the earth was against his face as the pressure of the earth forced his last breath. The workmen said it took a minute or more to reach his head.

“I felt the earth move slightly above my head. That gave me hope. I had not thought much of rescue, but I gathered my remaining strength. A shovel passed across the top of my head, cutting the scalp; I remember feeling it as if a hot iron had struck me. Then they uncovered my head and removed the earth from my mouth and eyes.” 

– W.K. Moorehead, Ibid.

After he had been removed, he was partially paralyzed for several days. An article in the Phillips Academy student newspaper, The Phillipian, stated that Moorehead was paralyzed for five to six weeks and later, at the order of a spinal expert, he was placed in a straightjacket to put the weight of his upper body on to his hips to relieve his spine.

“I neglected to state that the earth above my head was about three feet thick, that over my legs was much deeper. Many persons buried in gravel pits and in earth not nearly so deep have been taken out dead.” 

– W. K. Moorehead, Buried Alive – One’s Sensations and Thoughts (1893)

The physical effects were quite severe, but it was the effects of the accident on Moorehead’s mind that remained with him throughout the rest of his life. Dreams of caving banks and recurring memories of the accident haunted Moorehead’s psyche.

“I cannot now enter a mine or cave, or stand near an overhanging bank without a feeling of horror.” 

– W.K. Moorehead, Field Diary of an Archaeological Collector (1902)

The results of this accident continued to echo throughout Moorehead’s later life, affecting his mind and his health. In my next blog these echoes will be revealed.

For more information about this story, please visit the following sources.

Buried Alive – One’s Sensations and Thoughts, Science Magazine, Vol. ns-21, Issue 522, February 3, 1893

Field Diary of an Archaeological Collector, 1902

The Phillipian: Dr. Moorhead Tells, In Book Of Explorers’ Tales Just Out, How He Was Buried Alive (January 30, 1932)

Combing Through The Phillipian: End of an Era

Contributed by Adam Way

In the June 17, 1938 issue of The Phillipian, it was announced that Dr. Warren King Moorehead would be leaving his post as Director of the Department of Archaeology. This brought about the end of a long and prosperous career that saw Moorehead become an integral part of the Phillips Andover community and a major contributor to the field of archaeology as a whole.

Portrait of Warren K. Moorehead, 1898

Moorehead began his career in the 1880s when he studied at Denison University before becoming an assistant at the Smithsonian Institution and later the curator of the Ohio Archaeological and Historical Society (now the Ohio History Connection). He joined the Department of Archaeology at Phillips Andover at its inception in 1901 and was appointed as the first curator. In fact, he worked closely with Robert S. Peabody, the Department’s founder, to develop the idea of such an institution. During his time as part of the Department, Moorehead received a Master of Arts from Dartmouth and was made a Doctor of Science in 1927 by Oglethorpe University and again in 1930 by Denison University. He became the director of the Department after Dr. Charles Peabody stepped down in 1924.

            The article that announces Dr. Moorehead’s retirement is not particularly long but does highlight some of the important aspects of his career. The article spends a majority of its content on his education and on his path to becoming the director. The article does include some of his other accomplishments, such as a partial list of publications, and a mention about his work with the US Board of Indian Commissioners. The article concludes by saying that his position within the archaeology community is undisputed and that he will be travelling to Europe with his wife for the summer.

Warren K. Moorehead (far left) with an excavation group

Personally I was surprised with how Moorehead’s departure was presented in The Phillipian, particularly the brevity in which they describe his career. In the numerous issues of The Phillipian throughout the years that I have researched, it became clear just how much Moorehead fought for the rights of Native Americans and how he fought to bring the injustices committed against them to light. This was a frequently recurring topic for Moorehead and yet receives one sentence in his retirement article. This also occurs with his numerous archaeological discoveries from across the country. A significant aspect of Moorehead’s career was his participation in and leadership of numerous excavations and expeditions over the years and, unfortunately, that aspect receives little attention in this article, such as his work throughout New England, the Midwest, and Southeast. Although his methods do not meet today’s standards, Moorehead made multiple important contributions to the field that went unmentioned in his retirement article.

            I think that the reason I was so surprised was that the reception that Moorehead received in this article differs from most of his other appearances in The Phillipian. Many of the articles that featured Moorehead over the years went into a fair amount of detail. Whether it was discussing a lecture or one of his expeditions, the reader was usually given more information. Moorehead was seemingly respected and well liked by the students, as evidenced in numerous articles praising his lectures, yet the announcement of his retirement is rather straightforward and relatively unemotional. One possible reason for this could be declining student interest in the Department over the few years prior to his retirement and his habit of giving very similar lectures every year. Moorehead’s sendoff did not mirror his depiction in previous issues of The Phillipian.

            Warren King Moorehead was a staple of the Department of Archaeology from its inception in 1901 until his retirement in 1938 having served as both the curator and then as the director. He retired at the age of 72 and spent his brief retirement with his family before passing in January of 1939.

Check out the following Peabody blogs for more information and history about Warren K. Moorehead.

Warren K. Moorehead and the Peabody Institute

The ‘Horned Giants’ of Pennsylvania

“…and his spirit still lives”

Behind the Photograph – W.K. Moorehead and the Fort Ancient Excavation

 Archaeology in the Classroom at a New England Prep School

The Art of Collecting

The Ponca, Presidents, Politics, and Partial Answers

The Sounds of Cataloguing

Contributed by Emily Hurley

After I’ve spent nearly two years (minus five months of remote work) working to complete the inventory of the Peabody collection, we are so close to finishing! It has been a long process which wouldn’t have been possible without one thing: podcasts.

During those long hours cataloguing in the Peabody, it can get very quiet—and sometimes slightly creepy when you’re working alone in the basement of an old building which tends to make strange noises. Enter: podcasts, which not only help to pass the time but drown out any creepy noises or the sounds of disembodied footsteps coming from upstairs.

Here I am cataloguing and rehousing material in the Peabody Collection.

I had never listened to a podcast before working here, but now I can definitively say I am a podcast aficionado! I’ve spent the last two years listening to a wide variety of podcasts from beginning to end—some of which had six years’ worth of episodes to catch up on. I’d now like to share them with you in case anyone is in need of hundreds (possibly thousands, but I don’t want to do that math) of hours of listening material.

As a disclaimer, some of these podcasts do use explicit language so I have written an (E) next to each title which indicates that the podcast does use explicit language.

American Shadows

This podcast tells some of the darker stories from American history, from little known tales like the rainmaker who flooded San Diego to the only successful coup d’états to date. You’ll definitely learn some interesting stories that didn’t make it into our history books as kids.

Astonishing Legends

Hosts Scott and Forrest investigate all things mysterious in this (sometimes very long) podcast. From strange disappearances to ghost stories to UFOs to Bigfoot and all things in between, they do incredibly deep dives to investigate evidence for and against these curious tales. The Peabody’s own Warren Moorehead was even mentioned in an episode exploring the legends of giants (if you haven’t already, check out the blog post I wrote about it). Two of my favorite topics they’ve covered are the disappearance of Amelia Earhart and the Dyatlov Pass incident.

Everything is Alive

This interview show features inanimate objects as guests, who tell their life stories and what it’s like to live like them. One of my favorite episodes is Lillian, a Song and Chioke, who was a grain of sand in his first episode, before being transformed into a pane of glass for his second episode.

Faerie

This 12-episode immersive podcast series follows the investigation of Ryan Bailey, who is accidentally thrust into the secret world of mythical faeries. Join her as she unearths more of their secrets and the agency that is supposedly charged with protecting them.

Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness (E)

In this weekly podcast, host Jonathan Van Ness (one of the hosts of TV show Queer Eye) sits down with an expert to talk about anything and everything he is curious about. Topics include politics, animals, social justice, history, and pretty much anything else you could think of. My favorite episodes are the ones where he explores the ancient histories of the Mediterranean, Egypt, China, and Mesoamerica. He has also done two very interesting episodes titled “How has the U.S. disrupted Native American food sources?” and “How are contemporary Native Americans thriving?”. With such a broad range of topics, there’s something for everyone and Jonathan’s hilarious quips and dynamic personality make it so fun to listen to.

Let’s Talk About Myths, Baby! (E)

This podcast tells the most entertaining and enraging stories from Greek and Roman mythology, told casually, sarcastically, and from a contemporary lens. Host Liv focuses on not only the wild things the Gods did, but also the rampant mistreatment of the women present in these stories. She also has very interesting conversations with authors and classicists to talk about their perceptions of the myths. Some of my favorite episodes are the series on Cupid and Psyche and the Medusa episodes.

Lore

In this bi-weekly podcast, host Aaron tells true-life scary stories. In these dark historical tales, he explores mysterious creatures, tragic events, and unusual happenings. Due to the success of the podcast, it was actually adapted into several books and a TV series!

Martinis and Murder (E)

From serial killers to disappearances, hosts John and Daryn break down these cases while Matt the Bartender mixes up drinks, making a heavy subject a little more palatable with their sense of humor. Unfortunately this podcast is no longer making new episodes, however there’s four years of weekly episodes for your listening pleasure!

Noble Blood

This podcast features the stories of some of the most fascinating nobles and royals in history. Host Dana tells tales of tyrants, ill-fated love affairs, family drama, bad decisions, murder, and so much more. My favorite episode is titled “From Poland with Love” about noblewoman turned World War II spy, Krystyna Skarbek, but all of the episodes are incredibly interesting and paint a different picture of some royals than what you may have learned growing up.

Not Another True Crime Podcast (E)

In this weekly podcast, hosts Sara and Danny break down crimes of all kinds—murders, disappearances, cults, scams, and conspiracies—with a healthy dose of humor. My favorite episodes are the ones exploring cults, especially lesser-known cults, such as the Yellow Deli Cult and the Love Has Won Cult.

Queens (E)

Hosts Katie and Nathan tell the stories of queens (and sometimes mistresses and other noblewomen) from history, from the well-known like Mary, Queen of Scots, to the lesser-known like Ranavalona. Their stories trace these women’s lives from birth to death, through tragedy and triumph, despite the unfortunate lack of information that was kept about some of these women. As a disclaimer, the first few episodes are actually very hard to listen to because of poor audio quality (they were still figuring things out!), so maybe skip ahead a few episodes if it bothers you. Some of the most interesting episodes in my opinion are on Sayyida Al Hurra, Boudica, and Victoria Woodhull.

Shaken and Disturbed (E)

In this true crime podcast, hosts John and Daryn (previously from Martinis and Murder) have rebranded and are back to tell more stories of disturbing crimes that leave us shaken, complete with their drinks and sense of humor.

The Exploress

Host Kate takes listeners on a time-travelling journey through history, one era at a time. She explores what life would have been like for women during these times, both the famous ones and the obscure. If you’ve ever wondered what ancient Romans ate for breakfast, what a day in the life of a Civil War nurse was like, or what the beauty routine of an ancient Egyptian was, then this is the podcast for you! I just finished all the episodes and am absolutely obsessed with it. I only wish there were more episodes for me to listen to!

The Midnight Library

In this immersive podcast experience set in a creepy old library, host Miranda Merrick and her dear friend Mr. Darling tell stories of the shadowy, mysterious, and macabre. From bog bodies to ancient books and curses, and from poison to demons, this podcast is perfect for anyone looking for something a little spooky.

The Springfield Three

In this eight-part series, host Anne travels to her hometown of Springfield, Missouri to follow up on an unsolved crime. On June 7, 1992, Sherrill Levitt, her daughter Suzie Streeter, and Suzie’s friend Stacy McCall all disappeared from Sherrill’s home, seemingly without a trace. Nearly thirty years later, there are still no answers for the women’s families. Follow Anne as she traces the stories of these women and how their disappearance changed this small town in the Ozarks forever.

The Unexplained

This story-based podcast explores a new unexplained mystery each week, taking listeners on a journey through the strange and often eerie. Through bizarre tales of time-slips, mysterious disappearances, unexplained deaths, dabblings in the occult, and so much more, host Richard examines the nature of reality and the human condition. Some of the most interesting episodes in my opinion are “The Last Flight” about the disappearance of Frederick Valentich, and “When the Snow Melts” about the Dyatlov Pass incident (Astonishing Legends also did a deep dive on both of these topics in their podcast).

The Vanished (generally not explicit but some episodes do include explicit language)

This true crime podcast covers the stories of missing persons, generally lesser-known ones who may not have gotten much attention in the media. Going beyond conventional news reports, host Marissa dives into the story of each missing person, including interviews with family members, friends, and law enforcement. This podcast can be very sad to listen to but, like the host, I believe it’s important to keep the stories of these people alive so that hopefully one day their family can get closure.

You’re Wrong About (E)

Hosts Mike and Sarah reconsider past events or people that have been miscast or misrepresented in the public imagination and/or by the media, all with some sarcasm and a great sense of humor. This show has really changed my perception of so many things I thought I knew, from maligned women of the ‘90s to stranger danger. I love all of the episodes so it is very hard to pick any favorites, however some of the most interesting are “Human Trafficking”, “Tonya Harding”, “Political Correctness”, and the series on Princess Diana. I think this is probably my favorite podcast out of all I’ve listened to so I highly recommend it!

I hope that in sharing all of these with you, you can find something new and interesting to listen to and perhaps will learn some new things!

DIGGIN’ IN: SEASON 3

Contributed by Lindsay Randall

Given the huge success of the initial seasons of Diggin’ In: Conversations with Archaeologists we are pleased to continue the digital offering through 2021! We launched the third season on Wednesday August 11th and it will run through the middle of December. 

This season features ten speakers who will explore exciting topics such as maritime history, the archaeology of American protests, queer archaeology, and ableism in archaeology. The full list of speakers and topics is:

Episode 1: Reanalyzing a Mayflower Family Home 
Caroline Gardiner 
WEDNESDAY AUGUST 11, 2021

Episode 2: The Howard Street Cemetery Project and the Desegregation of American History in Salem, MA
Rachel Meyer
WEDNESDAY AUGUST 25, 2021

Episode 3: Oregon Chinese Diaspora Archaeology
Jocelyn Lee
WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 8, 2021

Episode 4: The Indigenous Paleolithic of the Western Hemisphere
Dr. Paulette Steeves
WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 22, 2021

Episode 5: First Baptist Church, Colonial Williamsburg
Jack Gary
WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 6, 2021

Episode 6: Ableism in Archaeology 
Dr. Laura Heath-Stout
WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 20, 2021

Episode 7: Creole Maritime Archaeology
Dr. Lynn Harris
WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 3, 2021

Episode 8: Using Queer Theory in Archaeology
Gabriela Oré Menéndez
WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 17, 2021

Episode 9: Origins of Food Inequality and Equity
Dr. Kimberly Kasper
WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 1, 2021

Episode 10: Archaeology of American Protests
Dr. April Beisaw
WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 15, 2021

And, hot off the press is an article that I wrote with Massachusetts Archaeological Society Trustee Suanna Crowley for the New England Museum Association’s digital publication about the impact of Diggin’ In. You can read the article HERE.

To sign up for Diggin’ In please use our new online registration page.

You can watch past episodes and seasons on our YouTube page.

Combing Through The Phillipian

Contributed by Adam Way

My name is Adam Way. I am currently a graduate student at the University of New Hampshire and am working towards my Master’s Degree in Museum Studies. This summer I am working as an independent researcher for the Peabody Institute looking through old Phillipians to see how the Institution has been perceived and presented by Phillips Academy students over time.

This is me on the Cadir Hoyuk archaeological site located in central Turkey in 2018.

In the modern day, there are a number of factors that determine the best place for an artifact or specimen, whether it is in a museum, either private or public, or with the people for which the item has cultural significance. This, of course, has not always been the case. For a long time, the mentality regarding the storage, display, and ownership of artifacts was similar to that expressed in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: “It belongs in a museum.” This mind set and practice is certainly present during the early years of the Archaeology Department, now the Peabody Institute, and is reflected in the publication of its various acquisitions in the Phillipian.

There are numerous ways that a museum or institution, such as the Peabody, can increase the size of its collections. These methods include donations, purchasing and exchanging of collections, and conducting archaeological expeditions. Through these methods, the Peabody was able to amass a collection of around 81,000 specimens within its first twelve years of operation (according to the Founders’ Day issue of the Phillipian from Oct 11, 1913).

Phillipian Article, October 11, 1913

While looking through the issues of the Phillipian, it quickly became clear to me that two of these methods of acquisition occurred more often than the third – donations and purchases/exchanges. Donations played a key role during the early years of the Archaeology Department and its collections as they allowed for the collections to grow without draining their available funds. The Department received donations from both individuals with private collections as well as from other organizations. This can be seen in instances like the gift from the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, where a sizable donation of clothing and ornaments from the Pacific Islands was made in March of 1910 (although these are not currently present in the Peabody’s collection). While donations like this did occur, it was much more common for individuals to make donations from their own private collections. These gifts tended to be smaller in size but would still dramatically impact the total collections due to the overall volume.

Phillipian Article, March 12, 1910

The other means of acquisition that occurred often was the act of purchasing collections or engaging in a trade. For example, In the Feb 1 issue of 1913, it was announced that Moorehead had traveled to Yarmouth, Maine to secure a collection from an Arthur Marks, Esq. By securing this collection, Moorehead added roughly 2000 specimens to the Department’s total collection. This was also only a few months after they had purchased another collection from W.H. Wheeler of Concord, MA. The Wheeler collection consisted of over 4000 objects from around New England and was the largest single purchase by the Department in the region.

The last way that the Department expands their collection is through sponsored archaeological expeditions. This method of acquiring new specimens definitely occurs less often than the other two methods, especially at first, but becomes more frequent as time goes on. According to the articles in the Phillipian, the specimens retrieved from archaeological digs was fairly limited at first. They mainly came from Moorehead and Peabody’s research expeditions, both throughout the States and in Europe. It was mentioned several times that both men shipped collections of varying sizes back from Southern France. The number of domestic digs did increase as the years went on as Moorehead started a yearly expedition to Maine that brought in roughly 1000 specimens in the first year alone (1912). This specific expedition would prove fruitful for Moorehead as he returned many times in the coming years. In addition to Moorehead’s expeditions, there would also be collection trips where a member of the Department would be sent to a region, such as Eastern Massachusetts, and would be tasked with finding artifacts from old sites. These trips were quite common and could bring in up to 8000 artifacts in one year (1912-13).

From what I have seen in the Phillipian’s coverage of the ever-expanding collection, these methods of adding to the total collections of the Department contributed roughly the same amount. The amount of donations and purchases of collections far outnumber the number of archaeological expeditions; however, they are often much smaller in size. The balance of these three methods is subject to change as I have only read what has happened in the early years of the Department. It is nonetheless impressive how the Department was able to amass such a large collection in such a small amount of time.

Blood Quantum: A Zombie Film

Contributed by Lindsay Randall

The last lesson that I taught for the 2020-2021 academic year was unbelievably interesting and completely unlike anything I have ever taught about.  

So. Much. BLOOD Fun.

Dr. Miriam Villanueva, faculty in the History department, taught a course during Spring term on understanding history through zombie films. She used films such as Ojuju and Zombi Child to explore various cultural, social, and economic issues impacting the cultures that the films center on.

The film that I got to collaborate with Dr. V on was Blood Quantum by director Jeff Barnaby. 

The indigenous people in the isolated reserve of Red Crow are immune to the zombie plague that has taken over the nation, but that doesn’t mean their lives aren’t at risk. It’s up to Traylor (Michael Greyeyes, “Fear the Walking Dead”), the tribal sheriff, to protect the families residing on the reserve and a flood of desperate refugees from the hordes of bloodthirsty, walking white corpses that are closing in.

Click here to rent/purchase Blood Quantum.

The term “blood quantum” refers the racist concept that one’s “Indianness” can be quantified by the amount of “Indian blood” that one possesses. Historically, the idea of blood quantum emerged as a way to construct racial identity to benefit the dominant white society. The idea was as the blood of indigenous people became “diluted” that they would disappear – and with them any legal obligations the government had or any obstacle that they represented for the growth of white society.

The premise of Blood Quantum –that the Indigenous people of Red Crow are immune to becoming zombies–seems to be incredibly positive (as much as anything can be in a zombie film), students in Dr. V’s class were quick to pick up on the quote from the movie that being “immune to the plague doesn’t mean immune to being eaten alive.” They saw how the immunity actually served as another method to ensure the destruction of Native people – there would be no Indigenous people left while hordes of white zombies still roamed everywhere. However, their immunity did give members of the Red Crow reservation a power that was denied to all others in the movie.

As you can see, there was a lot for the students to unpack while watching the film. Below are just a few of the issues/metaphors that students investigated. 

If they’re red, they are dead. If they’re white, they bite.

By no means are these all the ways that the movie serves as commentary regarding historical and contemporary issues in Indian Country nor are the examples given below the only ones that can be found in the movie.

Current conditions of Native reservations

Early on in the movie, there is a discussion about how all the tetanus shots in the clinic have been taken by the emergency department.  Students saw this scene as connected to reservations given the historical and contemporary actions of resources being taken by the government and other for profit industries.

Students also discussed that how the compound was set up to protect against zombies was similar to modern reservations given its lack of electricity, heat, sanitation, and other vital supplies.  

Red Crow Reservation during the zombie apocalypse. 

Dishonesty towards Native people(s) and communities 

There is a scene where a father is trying to bring his clearly sick/injured daughter into the compound. When asked if she had been bitten the father denied it, however the bite mark was easily found on her neck.

There was also a character named Lilith who showed up with the father and daughter who also had a bite wound on her stomach, which she never disclosed while accepting the help and security being offered.

The dishonesty by the father and Lilith in their attempt to get what they wanted – no matter the cost to those who were trying to help them – reminded the students of both the historical and contemporary treatments of Indigenous people where information was intentionally kept from them and did not allow them to make informed decisions (such as the abhorrent lying that took place when Indian Health Services forcibly sterilized young women in the 1970s)

Father holding his infected daughter.

Destruction of Native families

The deaths of numerous characters throughout the movie is not the only way that the destruction of Indigenous families is portrayed within the film. One of the aspects of the movie that students noticed in connection to this was the fact that the character of Lysol had been placed within the foster care system. The statement in the movie that “he left an Alan and came back a Lysol” also demonstrates the trauma that is prevalent within the system and how it can change the entire personality of a child.

Placing Native children into the foster care system is a direct result of the same federal policies which lead to the creation of native boarding schools. The foster care system has played such a destructive role in the harming of Native families and communities that the state of Maine convened  the Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate the trauma that resulted from decades long policies related to Native children in the state of Maine. (Dawnland is an award winning documentary about the Commissions work)

Joss, Joseph, and Joseph’s newborn daughter on the run from zombies.

Missing and murdered indigenous women

The absence of a person makes it easy for them to be overlooked, however students in the class were very aware that the mother of the character Lysol was mentioned a few times but never seen. One part of dialogue that the students brought up was when Joseph says, “The whole reservation knows what happened to his mom” but then nothing more about what happened is said.

The fact that the audience never learns the name of Lysol’s mother is another connection to missing and murdered Indigenous women. While the shooting of unarmed Black men is a crisis within society, at least we know the names of George Floyd, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and countless others. It is a sad commentary on our society that the average person cannot name even one Indigenous woman who has been murdered or who is currently missing.

Joseph and Joss talking about Lysol

Biological warfare

There is a scene where the father of the daughter who died outside of the camp due to a zombie bite brings in the blanket that she had been wrapped up in. When Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs’ character Charlie notices the blanket she grabs it from the man and throws it into a fire while yelling at him that he cannot bring that into the reservation.

The students immediately understood that this scene was meant to evoke the histories of blankets infected with smallpox being given to native people as a method to murder them.

Charlie taking the infected blanket to be burned

Destruction of natural and other resources

One of the topics with which students were already familiar was protests against the destruction of the environment and areas of cultural significance by the construction of gas and oil pipelines. Many Indigenous communities have set up blockades, particularly on bridges, to stop the movement of workers and machines.

The imagery created by the barricade on the bridge to stop zombies from crossing into the reservation is incredibly similar to the pictures from protest sites such as DAPL/Standing Rock.

Barricade on bridge to stop zombies from entering Red Crow Reservation

Christian God used to defend the treatment of Native people(s) and communities

The use of biblical words and the concept of God has been used for centuries to rationalize the inhumane treatment of native people.

“For it pleased God to visit these Indians with a great sickness, and such a mortality that of a thousand above nine hundred and a half of them died, and many of them did rot above ground for want of burial”   – Gov. William Bradford

“For the natives, they are near all dead of the smallpox, so the Lord hath cleared our title to what we possess.”  – Gov. John Winthrop

In the first moments of the movie an “Ancient Settler Proverb” appears:

“Take heed thyself that thou make no treaty with the inhabitants of the land for when they whore themselves to their demons and sacrifice to them, you will eat their sacrifices. And when you chose some of their daughters for your sons they will lead your sons to do the same.”

Some of the students were aware that the “Ancient Settler Proverb” was in fact Exodus 34:12. 

Ancient Settler Proverb

Another interesting connection the movie made was to something that director Jeff Barnaby experienced as a child.

In June of 1981, Lucien Lessard, Quebec Minister of Recreation, Hunting, and Fishing instigated conflict with Mi’kmaq living on Restigouche (now Listugui) by demanding that they remove all nets from their traditional fishing waters. Salmon fishing was vital to the survival of those on the reservation there were, unsurprisingly there was intense pushback from community members. Instead of dealing with the issue peaceably, Lessard sent about 400 Quebec Provincial Police to engage in a brutal raid on the reservation. 

Documentary “Incident at Restigouche”

These events were captured in the documentary “Incident at Restigouche” and Barnaby has commented numerous times on how this film influenced his career. One of the scenes is that of an elder talking about how he took an ax and drew “a line for them not to come any further.”

Elder speaking about how he stood up to the forces illegally entering Restigouche.

A hyper-specific homage to the violent events of 1981 at Restigouche and this elder in particular is found in the animated scene were Gisigu takes a sword to defend against zombies.

Scene from movie that references the attack on Restigouche

So, if zombie movies are your thing, you might consider watching this particular movie and I hope that this blog post will make your viewing richer in your understanding of how it serves as a commentary on issues within Indian Country.

For more about Blood Quantum:

Jeff Barnaby Made an Apocalypse Movie to Watch the System Fall. Then a Pandemic Hit

PODCAST: Jeff Barnaby talks about his indigenous zombie film Blood Quantum

Decolonizing the zombie apocalypse:  An interview with Jeff Barnaby about his new film ‘Blood Quantum’

Peabody Pets

Contributed by Emma Lavoie

Pets have always played an important part throughout history and there is regular evidence of this in the archaeological record. We’ve seen pets as companions, guides, and emotional support animals as well as hunters, messengers, and aids in transportation, security, and various other work.

Many archaeologists have found evidence of pets in their excavations of ancient sites, and some even study the history of pet-human bonding and to find the earliest evidence of these relationships. Some of the most recent sites with pet discoveries include a burial in Lima, Peru, an Ancient Egyptian port site that holds one of the oldest pet cemeteries (about 2,000 years old!), and a discovery of a prehistoric puppy that is about 14,000 years old (making it the earliest evidence of pets.)

May 2021 marks National Pet month and what better way to celebrate than to feature the furry friends of the Peabody’s staff!

Meet Scotty

Here’s Scotty enjoying the New England snow

Scotty is a 6-year-old Australian cattle dog mix, rescued from Tennessee by the Great Dog Rescue New England in 2016. Scotty loves to make appearances in Dr. Wheeler’s Human Origins course, where he guest stars during discussions on dog origins and evolution.

Scotty is named for a number of favorite Scottys. These include Scotty from Star Trek and our own Richard “Scotty” MacNeish. In fact, he is often referred to as Scotty MacLeash!

Scotty’s best friend is his pet-mate, Martin – an orange cat who loves to play and wrestle with Scotty, especially during mealtimes.

The best of friends – Scotty and Martin taking a post-play nap

Meet Banjo

Banjo posing for a picture – just look at those cute ears!

Banjo is a 5-year-old pit-bull mix who loves playing fetch, tug, and snuggling with her family. While she loves a vigorous game of tug, she is super gentle with younger and smaller opponents even letting them win.

Banjo also loves being under a blanket to sleep. She sleeps best at night when a blanket is put on her before bed. If she gets up for a stretch at night, you can find her at the side of your bed waiting until you get up to cover her with a blanket in her bed again. On the rare occasion she would sleep in her family’s bed, she would wiggle down to the bottom and spend all night in a blanket cocoon.

Banjo in bed covered up with her blanket

Meet Rourke

Rourke at the beach

Rourke is a 2-year-old golden (ginger) retriever. There may be some Irish setter in there too. Rourke was named after his family’s old Irish name (O’Rourke.) He loves hiking, naps, and the snow, but his favorite place is the water. He loves the beach and lounging in his very own kiddie pool.

By day, Rourke wrestles with his big Bernese mountain dog cousins, and by night he’s a lap dog. He loves peanut butter and the smell of butter and steak. Fun fact – Rourke has his own way of purring and loved sleeping on the backs of couches before he got too big for it… he might have been a cat in a past life.

Rourke always has his tongue out for a photo

Meet Duncan

Duncan lounging in the grass

Duncan is a 9-year-old German shepherd, chow, and boxer mix who was adopted from the SPCA when he was three months old. He loves running and going on car rides with his family. Duncan’s favorite treats are popcorn and peanut butter. He is super strong and has lots of energy, immediately ripping any toys that he’s given to shreds.

Duncan got his name on the way home from being adopted. His family drove past a Dunkin’ Donuts and the rest was history!

Just look at that smile!

Meet Nimbus and Baz

Nimbus and Baz taking a nap – they’re so fluffy!

Nimbus is a white, Himalayan and Siamese mix. She is about 18-20 years old. Baz is a brown, Maine Coon mix. He is 13 years old. Both love taking naps and are a cosmic duality that govern their family’s daily lives.

Nimbus is noisy and skittish while Baz is quiet and affectionate. These two often seem to be composed of contrary forces, but they usually settle into a détente of furry cuddliness.

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)

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/