[This is one of a series of stories I'm offering over the next few
months, telling stories based on historic details from the viewpoint
of a twelve year old in that time and place. I hope they promote
some reading out loud, a little sharing of family stories, and maybe
even a bit more digging into history by children & their parents.]
About 2000 Years Ago
This was the first year he had been allowed to come to the men's camp
where the special, sacred blades were made.
When his father had solemnly affirmed that twelve laps of the sun
across the eastern horizon had passed since his birth, the other men
of their village had gathered around to place their hands on his head
and shoulders, and sung their song over him.
When they came to the special spot, men of the other families
connected to this valley were already present, bending the sapling
poles and weaving the mats to set up the workshop.
It was the young boy's first time here, rather than further up into
the hills where the women and small children stayed during the
regular trip back to the ceremonial grounds. Almost exactly halfway
between the watercourse to their south, and the sudden lift of the
hills to the north, they had been coming to this place before his
father's and his father's father's days.
In a few more years, he might join the parties that traveled west,
beyond the wide river there, across three more great streams, and
almost to the Great River to which all of these waters ran. There
they would find the source of the smooth, grey, milky flint from
which they carefully shaped the bladelets for this place of preparation.
Likewise, if the years were good to him, he might find himself
walking just a short distance to the east, through the squeeze where
the creek bent around the bluff that reached the closest into their
valley, and so into the open land where the great shapes were laid out.
Father had explained how the wisdom of the sun's motions, and the
mysteries of the moon's both shorter and longer cycles, was
considered and consulted through these enclosures, and the healers
and singers who had their own set locations in the arrangement. The
boy understood little of it, for now, but knew as he sat through the
nights listening to the singers of his own clan, more would be made
clear, just as your eyes adjusted to see easily on a full moon night
even after a bright sunny day.
Today's clear weather helped him as he picked carefully at the dirt,
gathering up all the debris from the making of the bladelets from the
distant flint source, and laying it on a deerhide which would then be
taken to the trash pit nearby. These fragments could cut your feet,
but would never be simply cast aside as some of their local flint
would be back at the hunting and cooking camp.
So much to learn, but so many to teach him; not only his father, but
uncles and uncles unknown who came to greet them as family, here in
the preparation camp.
What would the next week be like, here in this place with so many
memories for all of his family, men and women, adults and children
alike? He did not know, but he was sure it would be wonderful.
With the discarded flint flakes all in a tidy heap, old single edged
bits, a few broken spear points and a worn down spokeshave, he
carried it all over to what he knew now was the proper spot, and did
his part with a prayer in his heart.
From the earth it came, and to the earth, returned as a blessing.
[Near Cherry Valley Road, south of Newark-Granville Road, a series of
archaeological sites revealed concentrations of Wyandotte chert, a
flint from southern Indiana used in the Hopewell period of Native
American earthwork building. Little is known for certain about the
material's significance to the users, or its use.]