St. Brendan –Atlantis in North America
Mary Sutherland 2010
From the ‘Dan Records of Enoch’, the Irish St. Brendan came to know that a continent existed beyond the sea which was divided by a great river. In the early 500’s he left his homeland and set sail for the world of the Atlanteans. He later wrote a book about his travels, titling it, ‘The Voyage of St. Brendan’. In this book, the Irish monk described the vision of North America and tells of a maiden coming to him, telling of a great land across the western sea – a land divided in half by a mighty river (the Mississippi). She then gave him the prophecy of the Second Coming of Christ who would appear in North America.
Ancient Ogham writings have been found in the caves of West Virginia that date prior to 1000 A.D. More examples of Ogham writing have been reported throughout the ‘Ogham Corridor’ which is located southeast of LaJunta, Colorado and stretches down to the upper Cimarron River into the Oklahoma Panhandle.
During the time of Columbus, ‘The Voyage of St. Brendan’ was very popular. After studying the book, Columbus came to believe that by going to America he would become instrumental in the fulfilling of the prophecy given to St. Brendan. To obtain support and financial backing, Columbus wrote and presented his book of prophecy to the King and Queen of Spain. With their blessings and support, Columbus set sail for America, following the maps, graphics and directions found in the ‘Book of St. Brendan’. When Columbus entered the Gulf of Pariah, he was sure he had found the Garden of Eden and proclaimed it as such. He was also convinced that it was here that he would find the returned Christ, his heavenly temple and the New Jerusalem (City of Gold) and that his arrival would usher in the prophesied 1000 years of peace.
The accounts of Atlantis in North America came from the early Vikings who were from the Tribe of Dan, thus privy to this information and the knowledge contained in the ‘Tablets of Destiny’ given to Moses. They believed in the One God of Abraham and rejected the Christian Trinity belief in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They believed that Nimrod (Milcom) and Estoreth (Semiramis) had corrupted Enoch’s Revelation of Adam. According to the Vikings, the ten tribes separated from Judah after Solomon chose to worship Nimrod and Estoreth. Although the Vikings were depicted as pagan, marauding, raiding Norsemen that worshiped many gods, nothing could have been further from the truth. What was misconstrued as ‘worshiping’ multiple gods was nothing other than these people giving reverence to their ancestors. Adam was known to them as Odin, King David was Thor, Nimrod was Loki who was the son of Cush, the son of Ham who was the son of Noah.
In Merlin and the Discovery of Avalon in the New World, Graham Phillips presents compelling evidence that the Arthurian legend of Merlin was based on the life of an actual historical figure. He submits that Merlin’s Avalon is North America and that Merlin sailed to this country and settled on an island of its coast.
In the sixth and seventh centuries many of the native Britons fled into Wales; others fled across the English Channel to France, and some crossed the Irish Sea to settle in Ireland, taking the stories of King Arthur and Merlin with them. In these countries the Arthurian legend became popular, often being amalgamated with native legends. In Ireland, Merlin became a popular theme for romance, where his name was rendered as the Irish Maelduin, or Máel Dúin. Here, the legend of Merlin’s voyage is described in detail in an eight-century saga called The Voyage of Maelduin’s Boat.
The Immram upon which the ‘Celtic Book of the Dead’ is based is Immram curaig Maelduin inso or The Voyage of Maelduin’s boat. The ‘Voyage of St. Brendan’ and the ‘Voyage of Maelduin’s boat’ are very similar. In the Maelduin story, ‘the son of a nun was raped by his father, Ailill Edge of Battle. Upon the murder of his father, he made a skin-boat and sailed on a great voyage among the ‘Blessed Islands’ in search for his father’s murderers.
Sailing from Ireland, Merlin and a group of companions first sighted a group of islands, one of, which is called “the island of sheep”. Another is so full of birds that they cannot land. This might well be a description of the Faroe Isles. The Faroes consist of eighteen islands lying approximately 175 miles northwest of Scotland and some 400 miles due north of Ireland. The Dark Age Vikings of Scandinavia called these islands the Føroyar, which literally means “Islands of Sheep”. One of the Faroe Isles is the isle of Mykines, which still supports one of the densest colonies of seabirds in the North Atlantic. This would fit with the isle of birds described in the account. After leaving these islands, Merlin and his crew sail on to a land where they are confronted by a terrifying wonder: a fiery mountain surrounded by smoke. If you sail 250 miles northwest of the Faroes you reach Iceland, a country renowned for its volcanoes – fiery mountains. Merlin then sails on for many weeks across a bitter cold sea, where the only land sighted are strange floating islands. One is described in detail as:
“A great column that was bright like silver… completely barren with no earth upon it… it towered above them and its base was far below; how far, they could not see.”
This might easily be a description of an iceberg. The Demark Strait, the 300 miles of sea separating Iceland from Greenland, is littered with icebergs, and the story describes what may be the coast of Greenland. After that they sailed until they entered a ‘sea which resembled green glass’. Greenland is named after its exotic green seas, caused by unusual green sand on the East Coast of the country (a variety of sandstone consisting of glauconite, potash, and phosphate of lime).
The Voyage of Maelduin’s Boat even seems to describe the coast of northern Canada, stating that the crew finally sailed to a forested country that had beaches made up of miles upon miles of pure white sand. As unlikely as such a place might sound, there is a stretch of the Canadian coastline that matches this description exactly. A magnificent white sandy beach known as the Porcupine Strand stretches for over twenty miles along the coast of Labrador on mainland Canada, directly across the Labrador Sea from Greenland. (The unusual color of the sand is derived from quartz deposits left by retreating glaciers at the end of the last Ice Age.)
Although it might seem impossible that anyone from the Dark Age British Isles could have made such a sea voyage to North America half a millennium before the Vikings are known to have done so, British exploration historian Tim Severin proved that it was indeed possible. In his book, The Brendan Voyage, Severin describes building a replica of an Irish boat of the period and successfully making the crossing from Ireland, via the Faroes, Iceland and Greenland, to Canada. Remarkably, what had been imagined to be the most perilous part of the crossing, from Iceland to Newfoundland – a voyage of almost 2000 miles – was achieved in less than two months. It took courage and a lot of hard work, but Severin proved that crossing the Atlantic in a sixth-century Irish boat, by island hopping through the Arctic in summertime, was far easier and quicker than anyone had ever imagined.
In provin out the voyage of St. Brendan, Severin also proved that Merlin’s voyage to North America was also possible! The “Avalon” that Merlin is said to have sailed to might well have been an island off the coast of North America. And if the medieval Arthurian Romances are to be believed, Merlin did not return but stayed on the Isle of Avalon. And if Avalon is North America what island would Merlin have stayed?
Recently there has been an attempt to identify the Isle of Man with Avalon, which has been sometimes described as Manannan Island, named after the Celtic sea-god Manannan who is said to have lived there. According to Arthurian romance, Gromer, an enchanted knight became ‘King of Man’ with the help of ‘Gawain’. It was at Castle Rushden on the island that Merlin was said to have defeated giants and buried them in the caves beneath the castle
Manana Island, off the coast of Maine bears a similarity to the Isle of Man with Avalon. This was the original Native American name for the island, which means, “island in the sea”. Interestingly, there are a number of standing stones on the island with one rock bearing a mysterious inscription which has been suggested as being Celtic in origin.
Another character that bears a striking resemblance to the Arthurian legends is Madog. Madog was hidden by his mother and raised by Pendaran, an old druid woman. When Queen Bre-nda lie dying, she told Owain about his son Madog who was sixteen years old at the time.
According to Welsh legend, Madog was Madog ab Owain Gwynedd, a 12th century prince from Gwynedd, who sailed to North America and made landfall at Mobile Bay Alabama in 1169A.D. Alongside a southern Alabama road a marker made by the Virginia Cavalier chapter of the D.A.R. can be found which reads ‘ In memory of Prince Madoc, a Welsh explorer, who landed on the shores of Mobile Bay in 1170, and left behind, with the Indians, the Welsh language.’
The Viking adventurers settled in the Mississippi Valley, befriending the natives, whom they showed how to build stone forts. Some of these mysterious forts and stone walls can still found in the area. Some sources describe the Welsh explorers as moving northward through Alabama and battling the Iroquois in Ohio, with another remnant moving westward where they were discovered at the time of the Revolutionary War as the light-skinned, bearded Mandan Indians of North Dakota. Most of the Mandans were decimated by smallpox in 1838, but many scholars have found much of their language and customs similar to those of Wales. For example, they used a small round boat made from hides stretched over a willow frame, which is almost identical to the Welsh coracle.
During the reign of Elizabeth I, Welsh interest in the New World was stirred by the writings of scholar John Dee. Dee claimed that King Arthur had ruled over large territories in the Atlantic and that Madog’s voyage had confirmed the Welsh title to this empire. The popular theory went that, as successor to the Welsh princes, including Madog, Queen Elizabeth was the rightful sovereign of the Atlantic Empire.
A lieutenant from Flintshire, North Wales who served in the British Army in Ohio, claimed to have conversed in Welsh with an Indian chief. Another noted Welsh scholar, Sir William Jones addressed the London Welsh in 1792 and announced the discovery of America by Prince Madog. He praised the Welsh Indians, calling them ‘a free and distinct people, who had preserved their liberty, language and some traces of their religion to this very day.’
Lewis and Clark also found light-skinned Native Americans with blue eyes and blondish hair. These people claimed to have been the descendents of a race of giants who came from across the sea. Today, many of the Man-dan can be found living in Wisconsin and Canada, under their given name ‘Sioux’. History states that the British evicted Madoc’s descendents from Wales. It is also alleged that the King of England stated that they could go to ‘Hell or to Connaught’.
The Spanish explorer Cortez quotes Motezuma in a letter claiming he and his people were directly descended from a race ‘ very far…from a little island in the North’. Peter Martyr, writing in 1493 from the court of Spain just after Columbus’ return from the Arnericas, stated that the natives of Guatemala celebrate the memory of one of their ancient heroes whom they call ‘Matec’. The dark skinned Melungeons of northern Tennessee also claim that their people originated from Prince Madoc and his Welsh people who moved into the continent up the Missississippi.
The Welsh people were known for their massive hill fort constructions and barrows. The round barrows and long barrows are generally found to contain burial chambers. In the round barrows the bodies were often buried in a crouched position and when cremation was involved the remains of the dead were placed in an urn. Some of the long barrows have been found to be between 200 and 300 feet in length and often more than 50 feet wide and about 8 feet high. They were possibly even higher when first built. Sometimes they are found to be just mounds of earth but they were also found to contain stone-lined chambers. Mainly used for multi-burials, they usually have an east-west orientation and the chamber is situated at the eastern end, which is generally higher than the western end. In the earthen variety the group of bodies all had to be interred at the same time but barrows containing stone chambers were used for separate burials carried out over a period of time. Bedd in Welsh means ‘grave’ and such graves are generally barrows. In the Preseli Hills is a Neolithic long barrow with a stone gallery known as Bedd-yr-Afanc or ‘Grave of the Monster’. It was a common belief that the mounds were built by giants and that these giants were also buried inside them. Some of these so-called ‘Giants’ Graves’ have been excavated and surprisingly found to contain human skeletons of considerable height, sometimes as much as 8 feet tall.
Wales must have been famous for its burial mounds during the Arthurian period (sixth century) for Taliesin referred to the country as Cymru Garneddog (Carn Wales). These monumental heaps over the remains of the dead would sometimes vary according to the nature of the terrain. In stony districts a carn of stones was heaped, but where stones were scarce a circular mound of earth was constructed and covered by turf. During ancient times it was customary when passing a stone carn to throw a stone on top in respect to the ones buried there.
A series of these pre-Columbian forts have been found built along the Alabama River and according to the Cherokee Indians they were indeed built by a race of ‘White People’. A testimony and letter dated 1810 from Governor John Seiver of Tennessee in response to an inquiry by Major Amos Stoddard. Governor Seiver refers to a time he spent with the Cherokee in 1782, and relates a conversation he had with Oconostota, who had been the ruling chief of the Cherokee Nation for nearly sixty years. Seiver had asked the Chief about the people who had left the fortifications in his country. The chief responded by telling him: “It is handed down by the Forefathers that the works had been made by the White people who had formerly inhabited the country.” and gave him a brief history of the Whites. When asked if he had ever heard what nation these Whites had belonged to, Oconostota told Seiver that he had heard his grandfather and father say that they were a people called Welsh who had crossed the Great Water and landed near the mouth of the Alabama River near Mobile.”
Archaeologists have testified that the forts are of pre-Columbian origin and bear striking similarities to the ancient fortifications of Wales. The first fort, erected on top of Lookout Mountain, near DeSoto Falls, Alabama, was found to be nearly identical in setting, layout, and method of construction, to Dolwyddelan Castle in Gwynedd, the presumed birthplace of Madoc.
The situation of the forts, blended with the accounts given by the Indians of the area, has led to a plausible reconstruction of the trail of Madoc’s colonists. The settlers would have traveled up the Alabama River and secured themselves at the Lookout Mountain site, which took months, maybe even years to complete. It is presumed the hostility of the Indians forced them to move on up the Coosa River, where the next stronghold was established at Fort Mountain, Georgia. Situated atop a 3,000-foot mountain, having a main defensive wall 855 feet long. Having retreated from Fort Mountain, the settlers then built a series of minor fortifications in the Chatanooga area, before moving north to the forks of the Duck River (near what is now Manchester, Tennessee) where they built a fortress known as the Old Stone Fort. This fort was formed out of high bluffs with twenty-foot walls of stone. Old Stone Fort’s fifty acres was also protected by a moat twelve hundred feet long.
Chief Oconostota tells of the war that had existed for years between the White people who had built the forts and the Cherokee. Eventually a treaty was reached in which the Whites agreed to leave the area and never return. According to Oconostota, the Whites followed the Tennessee River down to the Ohio, up the Ohio to the Missouri, then up the Missouri for a great distance.”
Chief Oconostota’s testimony has been thoroughly followed up by later historians and several points have been corroborated with other reports of “bearded Indians” and their trek upriver in retreat from hostile natives. Throughout the years there was abundant evidence from travelers who had met Indians that claimed their ancestry as Welsh and spoke a language remarkably similar to it.
Although several tribes have been considered as possible descendants of the Welsh settlers, the most likely is the Mandan tribe, who once inhabited villages along tributaries of the Missouri River. These villages were visited in 1738 by a French explorer, The Sieur de la Verendrye. In keeping of a detailed journal, he described the people and their villages. At the time of Verendrye’s visit, the tribe numbered about 15,000 and occupied eight permanent villages. The Mandan chief told him that the tribe’s ancestors had formerly lived much farther south but had been driven north and west by their enemies.
Verendrye described the Mandans as “white men with forts, towns and permanent villages laid out in streets and squares.” He indicated that their customs and lifestyle were totally different from other tribes he had encountered, and was the first of many to remark about the beards of their men, the grey hair of their older people, and the magnificent beauty of their women! The Mandans had several visitors throughout the next century, (including Louis and Clark in 1804), each one reiterating the striking differences in their culture and appearance.
The Mandans had been repeatedly driven out of their villages and forced upriver by their continual conflicts with the Sioux. By the 1830s, when George Catlin made his memorable visit, their numbers had decreased by two thirds. Catlin spent several years living with, studying, and painting various Indian tribes, and in 1841 published his classic work: Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs and Condition of the North American Indians. He devoted sixteen of his fifty-eight chapters to the Mandans, explaining:
“I have dwelt longer on the history and customs of these people than I have or shall on any other tribe. . .because I have found them a very peculiar people. From the striking peculiarities in their personal appearance, in their customs, traditions, and language, I have been led conclusively to believe that they are a people of a decidedly different origin from that of any other tribe in these regions.”
Catlin was so impressed by these differences that he speculated that the Mandan tribe could very well be the remains of the lost colony of Madoc. When Catlin left the Mandans in August, 1833, he did not know his would be the last, and probably most important, account of the Mandan tribe. They had survived a trans-Atlantic voyage, the Cherokee, an eighteen-hundred mile migration and had even managed to survive the Sioux. Like so many other Indian tribes, they did not survive the smallpox epidemic introduced to them by traders in 1837. Now considered extinct, the Mandans do however, lay claim to the distinction of being the only Indian tribe never to have been at war with the United States.
A memorial tablet was erected at Fort Morgan, Mobile Bay, Alabama in 1953 by the Virginia Cavalier Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, which reads:
In memory of Prince Madoc, a Welsh explorer, who landed on the shores of Mobile Bay in 1170 and left behind, with the Indians, the Welsh language.
In 1721, a Catholic missionary, Father Charlevoix, traveled from Canada to the juncture of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. He was told by Indians there that three days’ journey away was a tribe called Omans who had white skin and fair hair, especially the women.
In Indiana, stories appear in the writings of George Rogers Clark of encounters with white Indians. A large burial ground near his home at Clarksville reportedly contained the bones of ancient white people.
In 1799 six soldier skeletons were dug up near Jeffersonville. Each skeleton had a breastplate of brass, cast with the Welsh coat of arms, the mermaid and the harp, with the Latin inscription “Virtuous deeds meet their just reward’.”
The Tribe of Dan left their signature wherever they journeyed. They did so by giving rivers, moutains, lakes, villages, towns, bays, cities and peoples names with the word Dan and it’s derivative. According to prophesy, the new millennium, during the reign of the messiah, the Tribe of Dan will fulfill their true purpose and destiny. They will abide in ships, settle new colonies and rebuild the wasted land. They will once again ‘leap from Bashan’ and colonize the world.
Evidence strongly supports that races of Atlantean giants lived in North America and were the advent of the smaller races of modern men and women. As thousands of earthen burial mounds attest, constant war against one another caused their numbers to diminish and the smaller, but more numerous races eventually subjugated them.
Manitou Stones in Wisconsin
Mary Sutherland 2010
While hiking or exploring, you may have noticed a rock outcrop or boulder that seems to ‘jump out’ at you as being ‘different ‘ or ’special’. If so, you are not alone. The Algonquin speaking people of North America’s eastern woodlands (Chippewa, Menominee, Pottawatomie, Ottawa, Sauk, Fox and Miami) spoke of stones that had ‘presence’ or supernatural power, calling them ‘Manitou” (Spirit). Variations of the word ‘Manitou’ have survived in a number of place names sprinkled on the Wisconsin map: Manitou Island, Manitowish, Manitowish Waters, Manitowoc and Manitowoc Rapids, etc.
The Manitou Stones were once commonly found in Wisconsin on hilltops and other significant places considered important. Varying in size, among the three to four prevalent shapes or styles, red rocks and decorative pigments were found to be more prevalent. Bison effigies and other distinctive shapes including rock outcrop resembling human and animal profile styles can be considered as part of the phenomena. Both hills and Manitou stones are associated with water, i.e. springs, rapids and water falls, creeks, straits, river bends and drainage divides. Their association with springs seems to have been most common. There is also a trail or prehistoric footpath association and the places venerated by the presence of Manitou(s) and these pathways may have functioned as part of a broad ‘trail-shrine’ network
Early French explorers, Jesuit priests and the later missionaries frequently mentioned them as did Henry Rowe Schoolcraft during his travels in the upper Midwest in the early 19th century. Father Jean de Brebouf commented (in about 1636) that ‘The Indians recognized God in created things i.e. the earth, rivers, (rocks), and sky … all considered to be inhabited by “Oki” or Manitou (Kinietz 1965:123). And according to Father Francois DuCreux ‘both the words Manitou and Okki were applied to good and/or evil spirits’. He further stated that unusual objects with unusual shapes in unusual settings were perceived to have supernatural power (Mavor & Dix 1989:141).
The power of an ‘unusual setting’ was apparent to Fathers Allouez and Dablon who, in the year 1670, cast a Manitou stone found at the Grand Chute, now Appleton, into the Fox River. Two years later, Father Allouez found another Manitou stone at Rapide Croche, five miles ‘below’ Kaukauna. This was also rolled into the stream (Lawson 1907:135). These two Manitou stones had ’stood guard’ at both ends of the rapids on the lower Fox River, an obvious veneration to the water falls and rapids.
The tradition of the (Catholic) church to purge the countryside of pagan relics was ancient, even by the Jesuit Order or church standards. It can be traced all the way back to Deuteronomy 12: 2&3 that “Ye shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations … served their gods, upon the high mountains … and hills … overthrow their altars and destroy the graven images (i.e. sacred stones) of their gods …” During the 8th century A.D., this tradition was again in evidence as a Papal decree brought to Ireland by the Catholic missionaries who were to “sanctify the pagan hilltops” and also urged to build churches wherever they found ’standing stones’ (Sharp 1989:50,122). Nine centuries later, this mindset would be zealously transported to the New World by the Jesuit Order.
From the numerous descriptions of Native American people and customs recorded in the Jesuit Relations, there is little doubt that distinct Manitou stones were a commonly recognized icon which called attention to certain places; places of spiritual importance to the Native Americans and recognized as such by the Jesuit priests. Ongoing research indicates that Manitou stones were intentionally placed on hills or other high points associated with water; and not only water falls and rapids, but also springs, river headwaters, river bends, creeks, marshes and drainage divides. Springs, however, seem to have been the most important. There is also a trail or footpath association, an especially important aspect as the prehistoric trails once connected the numerous springs flowing at the base of the hills (Steinbring 1997:24).
Springs venerated by Manitou stones located along trails were obviously sacred and utilized as ‘trail shrines’ (Schaafsma 1980:45,98). Portages around water falls and rapids were also part of the trail network and, therefore, logical places to also find Manitou stones venerating the setting. A Manitou rock can still be found near Grand Father (Bull) Falls along the west side of the Wisconsin River in Lincoln County , the site of an old portage route as reported by Hiram Calkins in 1855 (Brown 1908:167). This particular rock outcrop has ‘projection’ in addition to ’sound’ emitted from water flowing (underground) through a split or fracture in the rock (Figures 1a&b). The projection, split and sound are ‘phenomenal attributes’ (Steinbring 1992) considered highly ‘mysterious’ and would be purpose enough for Grand Father (Bull) Falls to have been venerated as a place of ‘Manitou’. Thus, Manitou stones (which exhibited phenomenal attributes) together with scenic vistas viewed from the hilltops and prominences, all connected at one time by sight and a network of trail shrines, helped to define the Native American concept of an integrated ’sacred landscape’
(Steinbring et al 1995).
Years of historical and field research suggest that Manitou stones can generally be classified by three or four basic shapes, preferably one derived from a natural rock. If the Manitou rock was intentionally altered to the desired shape, there was only a minimal amount of actual working of the stone, always just enough to suggest the shape or effigy. It appears that extensive workmanship would almost have been sacrilegious (Schoolcraft 1834:291-92). Most often, a rock was selected which already had, through natural processes, the desired shape. Jack Steinbring, formerly at the University of Winnipeg and now living in Ripon, Wi calls this “iconic congruence” (personal communication). Color, too, was apparently of great importance with red-colored rocks being favored (Lawson 1907:135; Walker 1991:197-98). Many times the rocks were painted (primarily with red pigment) to achieve the proper color which was likely of spiritual importance (Lynd 1889:168-70; Schoolcraft 1834:291).
One shape encountered many times is triangular or conical (Figure 2). William Pidgeon (1858:180), while traveling through what is now Wisconsin in the 1830’s, described a place he called “Paint Creek” on the Mississippi River 9 miles north of Prairie du Chien where there was “a large rock upon which many singular paintings have been executed”. 30 miles from Paint Creek was another he called Paint Rock which “presents a pyramidal form, standing 5 feet above the surface of the earth, gradually tapering from the ground upward … covered with painted … figures of various kinds.” Sometimes, these conical or pyramidal uprights suggest the shape of someone wearing a blanket over their head and shoulders, the outline or shape for a spirit or apparition to those wearing a bed sheet costume on Halloween night dressed as a ghost!
A second shape often described is the human bust or effigy type. The two Manitou stones thrown into the Fox River by Fathers Allouez and Dablon were human-like in appearance (Parkman 1983: v.1:751), the rocks were selected because of their resemblance to a human profile. Both had been painted. Of interest, a human bust type Manitou like the ones described by Allouez and Dablon once stood near Detroit. A Jesuit priest said it was “a large stone, somewhat suggestive of the human figure, which the Indians [have] daubed with paint, and which they worship as a Manitou” (Parkman 1983: 739). In about 1670, it was broken into pieces by Jesuit priests and some of LaSalle’s men, then carried into the middle of the river in canoes and thrown in. The association of the bust-shaped Manitous with rapids and the strait (which Detroit means in French) is an important one, once meant to convey both spiritual and geographic information to anyone passing on a journey.
A variant of the bust shape is what Henry Rowe Schoolcraft (1834:291-92) called “Shin-ga-ba-wos-sins” or “image stones”. On his frequent trips into the Michigan and Wisconsin Territories during the 1820’s and 1830’s, Schoolcraft recorded copious amounts of geographical and ethnic information. Married to a Chippewa woman, he was privy to information usually not shared with others. Schoolcraft wrote that the “image stones” or “Manitou” were of “shapes resembling the trunks of human bodies, or other organic forms” , the image aided “by dots or dabs of paint, to denote eyes and other features … or rings of red ochre around their circumference …” Lapham, the first official state geologist and later founder of the U.S. Weather Bureau, extensively traveled and wrote about antiquities in the Wisconsin Territory, described a boulder (of red gneiss or granite) located near Hustiford in Dodge County which, bearing a resemblance to a bird, the Winnebago held “in great veneration” (Lawson 1907:135).
A similar rock was given to the State History Society about 150 years ago. It was “a stone manitou or spirit rock” of an uncertain “animal shape”, also the “object of Indian worship and regard”. Described as “a foot and half long”, it was “formerly located on the old Indian war trail on the west shore of Lake Winnebago”. It should be mentioned that numerous bison or buffalo effigy rocks have recently been discovered in southeastern Wisconsin, all associated with prominence or vistas and exhibiting “iconic congruence” (Bender 1997).
The image stones described by Schoolcraft differed in size. He commented that “If the image be small, it is generally taken with him and secreted in the neighborhood of his lodge. If large and too heavy for this purpose, it is set up on the shore …” (Schoolcraft 1834:292). These small stones, “secreted” away, can be looked upon and classified as portable manitous. In a 1796 report on Christian missions, Jeremy Belknap and Jedidiah Morse (1955:9-10) remarked that the “ONEIDA STONE” was the source of the Oneida name signifying “the upright stone” and that “it follows the nation in their removals.” The stone was “of rude unwrought shape rather inclining to cylindrical, and more than a hundred pounds weight.” Furthermore, Morse said it was not local rock and the Oneida did not know where it came from or when. Three copper Manitou have been discovered in southern Wisconsin and can probably be considered ‘portable’. All three are worked, triangular in shape and were apparently associated with high hills or prominence as venerations. About 1660, Father Allouez stated that pieces of copper were kept as “so many divinities” (Kinietz 1965:285). The Chippewa regarded copper as “something highly mysterious” which was “raised to the dignity of idols” (Kohl 1985:61), indicating it contained ‘Manitou’.
Not so much a shape but of spiritual importance and recognized as Manitou are the individual boulders which exhibit unique attributes regarded as sacred through ritual, tradition or landscape associations. A number of these were described in early Wisconsin Archeological Society publications almost a century ago (Brown 1908: 165-68). By no means exhaustive, the list of descriptions included: the Pipe of the Manitou which stood on a ridge 200 feet high at the head of Lake Chetac; the War Stone or Wheel of War on an island in Lake Chetac; the Rain Stone on the “southern edge of the Court Oreilles reservation”; Medicine Rock in Lac du Flambeau between the old cemetery and Strawberry Island; the Crawling Stone in Crawling Stone Lake on the Lac du Flambeau Reservation: the Menominee Manitou Rock, better known as Spirit Rock, located on the Menominee Reservation; and the “spirit stone on the west side of the Wisconsin River near Grand Father (Bull) Falls in Lincoln County.” Interestingly, the early report went on to say that the Manitou stones were once located along trails and canoe routes, in the vicinity of villages, were frequently painted in bright colors, and were venerated with offerings. A report on the St. Croix Road Spirit Rock said it was a “Large granite rock … in use by the Chippewa Indians as a spirit stone.” The rock was “about five feet high and five feet thick [where] it stood alone on the east side of the St. Croix River …” (Brown 1914:41), And, according to the 1914 Wisconsin Archeologist report, “The Indian trail passed this rock. In passing it the Chippewa often left … offerings of tobacco … or other articles …” There can be little doubt it was an important trail shrine.
Once numerous before white settlement, they were no doubt either destroyed by early missionaries, abandonment through conversion to Christianity and later, agricultural land clearing, eventually being removed from where they had stood for generations and dumped on to stone fence rows. There is even evidence that some may have been intentionally ‘tipped’ in a deliberate attempt to disguise their use. Yet, as late as 1880, gifts or offerings were still being left on the St. Croix Road Manitou stone (Brown 1914: 41). So, the next time you encounter a rock which seems to ’speak to you’, consider that it may be telling an ancient story of guardian spirits, a shrine visited on a long journey or some other event now forgotten, an event perceived to have empowered the rock and the surrounding landscape with ‘Manitou’. Then think back on how the Indians religiously deposited offerings on large, strange looking stones which, by their shape, are looked upon as divinities and upon which they perform their functions” (Rosholt & Gehl 1976:217). And, then make an offering of tobacco or something of personal value to the Manitou Spirit.”
Belknap, Jeremy and Morse, Jedidiah
1955 Report on the Oneida, Stockbridge and Brotherton Indians – 1796. Indian Notes and Monographs, Museum of the American Indian Heye Foundation, N.Y., N.Y.
Bender, Herman E.
1996 Strawberry Island and the Sacred Landscape. Unpublished report on file at Lac du Flambeau Band of Chippewa Office of Historic Preservation, Lac du Flambeau, WI and ASHCO, Fond du Lac, WI.
Bender, Herman E.
1997 The Kolterman Mounds: More Than Just Mounds. An address delivered to the Ritzenthaler Chapter of the Wisconsin Archaeological Society, December 9, 1997.
Brown, Charles E.
1908 Wisconsin Spirit Stones. The Wisconsin Archeologist (old series) 7(4):165-168.
Brown, Charles E.
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