MOUND CITY

PIPES MOUND

Under another mound, a large bag (placed next to a clay basin) was filled with ashes, beads, some copper items, and about 200 carved effigy pipes, all purposely broken. The pipe bowls portray a variety of animals, carved with accuracy and great artistry. Several showed human heads. Another deposit of almost identical pipes was found at Tremper Mound, 40 miles south of Mound City along the Scioto River.

The animals shown on the Mound City pipes are traditional figures in Eastern Woodland stories, creatures with their own will and power. Lenape storyteller Annette Ketchum:

The story I want to tell you is about why the turtle is so important to the Lenape people. And thatís because, a long time ago, they lived by the ocean, by the big water. And one day, the water started to rise. And it was a large, large flood, it came higher and higher, pretty soon the people were just up to their neck, they just believed they were going to drown for sure. And they didnít know what to do. And they cried to the Creator.
And about that time, a large turtle came up out of the ocean; he says, ĎGet on my back, and I will save you.í So all the people got on the turtleís back. And they swam around until the water went down, and then came back up to the shore and let them off. And they said, ďOh, thank you, Turtle. From now on, we will call ourselves Turtle people. And we will be known as the Turtle clan. And to this day, we are still known as the Turtle Clan. And Iím Turtle Clan, so I especially like that story.

Gerard Baker (Mandan-Hidatsa) tells of a tradition that may explain why the pipes at Mound City and Tremper Mound were broken deliberately.

Among the most beautiful objects from Mound City is a collection of animal effigy smoking pipes, that had been ritually broken.

Mound City

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