Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Serpent Mound, other Indian sites
to be marked

Ohio's Native Americans helped shape the state

By Randy McNutt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Tecumseh and the Serpent Mound will be among seven American Indian chiefs and significant historic sites to be honored with special markers by the Ohio Bicentennial Commission.

At 2 p.m. May 17, a marker will be dedicated at the Serpent Mound State Memorial - about 60 miles east of Cincinnati on Ohio 73.

The giant earthen snake effigy is the largest and finest of its kind in America, according to the National Park Service. It was believed to have been built during the Adena period (1000 BC to AD 200). It was one of the first mound-builder sites to be set aside because of its archaeological value.

Professional and amateur historians have argued about the purpose of the mound. Many believe it was a place where ceremonies dedicated to a powerful serpent were held, said Fred Stratmann, a spokesman for the bicentennial commission.

American Indians left their imprint on the Buckeye State in many other ways, including names such as Chillicothe and Wapakoneta - even Miami University.

"Native Ohio" is the fifth of 21 marker categories to receive approval in the commission's Ohio Heritage Marker program. Over the next 10 months, 4-by-4-foot, cast-metal markers will be erected across the state.

Other markers will commemorate:

• Tecumseh, the charismatic Indian leader who tried to unite varied tribes in a confederation to fight American expansion after Ohio's early years of statehood. He was killed during the War of 1812. His name lives on in the play Tecumseh! in Chillicothe. His marker was dedicated April 4 at Shawnee Prairie Preserve, Ohio 502, Greenville, Darke County.

• Gnadenhutten Massacre, where on March 8, 1782, a Pennsylvania militia mistook a group of Christian Gnadenhutten Indians for raiders and killed about 90 men, women and children. Earlier, the tribe was forcibly removed by the British and their Indian allies when suspected of aiding the Americans. A marker honoring the unlucky Indians was dedicated April 11 at the Gnadenhutten Museum in Tuscarawas County.

• Logan's Elm. Dedicated April 15 at Pickaway Township Elementary School to honor Mingo Chief Logan, who settled on the Pickaway Plains in 1770. He supported peace with the settlers until they murdered his family. Then he fought. His important speech on peace, delivered after Lord Dunmore's War under a massive elm, was inscribed on the Chief Logan Monument in Circleville, Pickaway County.

• Flint Ridge Quarry Site, where a prehistoric people dug hundreds of quarries. Flint formed at the bottom of a shallow ocean. The Hopewell Indians used the flint. "This Flint Ridge must have been as valuable to the Indians...as the coal and iron mines of Ohio and Pennsylvania are to the white men of the present day," historian Henry Howe wrote in 1888. A marker will be unveiled at 1:30 p.m. June 6 on Flint Ridge Road, near Brownsville in Licking County.

• Chief Cornstalk Town and Grenadier Squaw Village, 4174 Emerson Road, Circleville, Pickaway County. A marker will honor the Shawnee war chief and his sister, who were important figures in the history of the Scioto Valley. Cornstalk was a Shawnee chief who led 1,000 warriors in defeat at the battle of Point Pleasant, W.Va., and then made peace with Lord Dunsmore in 1774. Cornstalk was killed by soldiers three years later in Point Pleasant, after a settler was found dead. Cornstalk's sister, Non-Hel-E-Ma, was nicknamed the Grenadier Squaw because of her height - more than 6 feet. She encouraged peace between Indians and settlers.

• Whittlesey Culture. The Whittlesey people were the last prehistoric people of northeastern Ohio. They farmed, hunted and gathered food. They lived in the Chagrin Valley, along the Cuyahoga and Grand rivers, and along Lake Erie. Their marker will be erected at the Cuyahoga National Historic Park near Cleveland later this year.

E-mail rmcnutt@enquirer.com

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