How Native American Artifacts and Mounds Have Influenced the Development of the Adena and Hopewell Identities, and the Ethical Considerations Involved During Archaeological Excavations and Examinations

Daniel C. Mecredy, The College of Wooster


This study examines the relationship between the ancient Ohio earthworks and artifacts, and their role in the development of the identity of their builders. From this examination, interpretations suggesting possible roles that the artifacts and sites played in the development process of the Hopewell identity are offered. These interpretations are based on a careful analysis of the available data on Native American sites, specifically the earth mounds, in southern Ohio. In addition to using information provided by others regarding specific sites and their functions, this study will use information obtained through first-hand observations at two Ohio Hopewell sites in Newark and Chillicothe. Another related issue this study addresses is the archaeological ethics involved during the collection and display of Native American remains. How much information can outsiders, such as archaeologists and museums, report on certain Native American customs, artifacts, and sites, without creating a conflict between the scholars and Native groups? How can researchers excavate and study Native American sites and remains, without destroying the archaeological evidence? This report examines these questions, and explains the importance of preserving ancient remains, for both archaeologists and Native Americans. The results of these analyses indicate that there is a connection between ancient Native American remains and sites, and their sense of identity. From datacollected by people on the Serpent Mound, Kern Effigies, Seip and Baum enclosures, as well as additional examples from the Newark and Chillicothe area, interpretations regarding numerous aspects of this culture can be made. Remains from mortuary sites indicate social status differentiation, ceremonial practices, and competition with neighboring groups. Evidence unearthed at other mounds and sites suggests that these areas were gathering centers, perhaps used for purposes of trade or celebration. Additional findings indicate that the mounds functioned in many ways for this group. They acted as cultural symbols, strengthening their sense of unity and identity. Some mounds honored relatives, often containing their remains, and/ or objects of cultural importance. Yet other mounds served as calendars and references, indicating important times during the year. The mounds of central and southern Ohio and their contents hold vital information in terms of their importance to this culture, involvement in the development of the Mound Builder's identity, and indicate aspects of this culture.


© Copyright 1998 Daniel C. Mecredy