This presentation is part of the Proceedings of the Maritime Cultural Landscape Symposium, October 14-15, 2015, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Valerie Grussing: Next, Doug Harris and Doug Jones are going to give a joint presentation. Doug Harris is a veteran of more than 20 years of training and service to the Cultural Resource Mission of the Narragansett Indian Tribal Historic preservation office. Under the leadership of current Medicine Man and tribal historic preservation officer, John Brown and the training and elder … Excuse me, training in the Narragansett history, culture and policy with Narragansett hereditary elder Medicine Man, Lloyd “Running Wolf” Wilcox and Medicine Woman, Ethno-Historian, Dr. Dr. Ella Sekatau.
He is adept as a protector of those resources that are of significance to the Narragansett tradition. He’s a deputy Tribal Historic Preservation Officer with a tribal specialization as preservationist for ceremonial landscapes. He’s also a collaborative leader in the field of ceremonial stone landscape identification and mapping. In the project that he and Doug are talking about, he is the Co-PI.
Doug Harris: I’m glad you had to say that, because now I don’t. Patricia, where are you? Thank you. I’m honored to follow all of what you had to say. Thank you so very much. You create a model for what I need to be saying in the future, as we study more and commit more to what we have to protect. Thank you very much.
In our tradition, we don’t travel a lot. I arrive here. I do ceremony. I invite the ancestors of this place to join me and support me in what it is that I have to achieve in this forum. I’ve been getting strange ripples every now and then, certain terms that come up. I’m going to make this quick. Prehistoric, we have a problem with that. We, meaning not only Doug but all the spirits that came in the room with him.
Our history is ancient. It is in this land and it is here, and in the study of what is here. Prehistoric, is an inappropriate term. I’m offended by it. I respect all of you. I’m beginning to like and love some of you. That term hurts me and hurts those spirits that are in the room with me and with all of us. I had to get that out of the way. Otherwise I can’t go to balance and harmony and that’s a place where I like to live.
My partners have been identified. John Brown is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer and the guide of much of the work that I do. I’m taught by those who taught him, the elder Medicine Man, Lloyd “Running Wolf” Wilcox and Ella Sekatau and the new Medicine Woman, Wenonah Harris. I’ve got a very difficult process I’ve got to engage in. I gotta start with ceremonial stones and I’ve got to end up with submerged landscapes, but that’s what I have to do every day so I guess I can handle it.
Ceremonial stone landscapes. Anybody here, never heard the term? That’s great, we’ve got a few, a few takers. Ceremonial stone landscapes. Monatuhasanik , spirit stones. We are attempting as best we can to be bilingual in dealing with ceremonial stone landscapes. What I found was that when I tried to speak English to other tribal people about what we were saying in our protective enclaves, they didn’t know what I was talking about. I realized that it was a simple problem. It was not resonating in their spirits. When I would use words like, ceremonial stone landscapes. But Monatu, spirit, Hasanik are stones in groups. Our stones are identified as ceremonial stone grouping, as you see here, as opposed to stone piles, because in our tradition stones are our grandfathers. If in fact your talking about grandfathers who are congregated out in the field, you would not call them a pile of grandfathers. At least, I wouldn’t. I couldn’t get away with that, so Monatuhasanik, spirit stones or ceremonial stone groupings in English.
Let’s see, the process here for getting to the next one is to press that one. Great, okay.
This is another type of ceremonial stone grouping, it is on a boulder. I will take you quickly through these, I hope. This is a ceremonial stone grouping on a large boulder that no longer exists in this form. The landholder, when we began to negotiate at this particular site, dealing with an FCC project, the placement of a cell tower, became enraged that Indians had anything to say about what was on his property. He went up there with a backhoe and played golf one day. Ultimately, he apologized for that, but by that time it had been determined by FCC that there would never be a cell tower on his property. Could not be licensed.
Ultimately we went back and renegotiated, there is now a cell tower. What was negotiated was an opportunity to map every ceremonial stone grouping on that property. After the mapping, to be able to identify where they would be, areas of no ceremonial stones. Since there were no ceremonial stones, we had an issue a mile away in the valley with a Hasanek, a ceremonial stone chamber which viewed all of the stones on this hill. What we sought was to create, to find a vacuum in that set of alignments, where a cell tower could go but not affect any of the alignments. We did find that, ultimately we agreed that a cell tower could go there.
Finally what happened was, that the land owner within a town meeting with both of his children, told the people in the town that he had done some impacts. He didn’t understand what he was engaging in when he did it. He still does not understand these stones, but that he would make sure that that property was sold into preservation. It only took 2 more years before we were able to acquire the funds to buy the property from him. The Narragansett Indian Tribal Historic Preservation Trust now owns that particular ceremonial stone landscape. Those stones though are no longer in place.
This is an adjacent piece of property. This is a shadow casting stone in an array of stones. Occotoks, as it is called in the Mohegan language. We have not done the ground truthing yet to confirm whether or not the shadow casting is by sunlight or by moonlight, but we have identified that that’s what it is.
This is one of the effigy figures that we have. If you’re not familiar with the animals of our region, that is a turtle effigy. You can see their head, the carpus, paw, paw, and another paw. There’s also a tail in the rear. This is a serpent effigy and the serpent effigies are quite often in dispute because the presumption is that they are stone walls. Most often, they are too low to pen anything in, but we identify them by other means. Usually they do have a head, such as the one you see here. This particular one, just behind the head, also has a space and an orange stone, because we believe that they are related to the serpent effigy that is in the area of Scorpius that the Cherokee referred to as the Uktena, that is a serpent with an orange stone. In its terra form, it’s a jewel and it is horned, but this is, as below, so above.
This is a Manitou Stone, one of two forms of Manitou Stone. This is one that takes a more human shape. This is another form of Manitou Stone. It is a peaked stone. Both of those two are at a wondrous place where we first had our breakthrough with ceremonial stones. It’s called the Turner Falls Airport, that in 2008 was the first determination of eligibility for a site that had ceremonial stones.
Thank you, National Register for proving that we were wrong. We assumed that if the Federal Aviation Administration teamed up with somebody in Washington D.C. to make a determination, that we didn’t have a chance, but that was not the case. What we were told when we visited the National Registers is that we’ll give you a fair hearing. We will give you a fair hearing and a fair hearing is what we got. As a result, in December of 2008 was a National Register determination, much to the displeasure of the state archeologist of Massachusetts whose opinion was also published.
This, is also on that same hill. It is a stone row. This is a … some of the stones have been knocked down, but this is an oval stone at a break. This is another oval stone at that break, and off-center is this stone. That creates a triangle. If you stand on the base of this triangle, you are standing perpendicular to Mount Pocumtuck, 15 1/2 miles away. August 11th, 12th, 13th, in that time frame the sun sets in a notch on Mount Pocumtuck, 15 1/2 miles away.
It was that evidence that we presented to the National Register to say that this is a place of ceremony, this is a ceremonial calendar. Our ancients, for all of their proper reasons, identified this as a ceremonial calendar. What do we find coincidental with it? This is the highest concentration of a Perseid meteor shower. It happens at this particular time when the sun sets in that notch. Coincidental with that, the Narragansett who now are in the 340th recorded year of an annual August meeting, an August celebration. Some refer to it as a harvest celebration. It happens coincidentally at this time of year.
One of the key elements in it, is an acknowledgement of families who have lost loved ones during the year. They come into the circle from the northeast and dance around towards the southwest. Later on, there is an acknowledgment of the individual families who’ve lost. At this time of year, for many tribes, this is the time of the year when the deceased come as spirits across the sky out of the northeast into the southwest, toward Catakouis house, which is the preferred spot in the western area for spirits to reside. We take all of this coincidence and we acknowledge that we have a landscape that has been created by our ancients.
This is on the Narragansett Indian reservation. We were putting together a health center. The area where they wanted to put the health center was on the edge of a bowl. The bowl had ceremonial stone groupings in it, so we said, we’ve got to have a survey here. At that point, we had developed a system of survey. That system of survey was developed from the Turner Falls Airport experience. When we went to our elder Medicine Man and we said, “We’re not going to win this one. It’s clear that the Federal Aviation Administration and the town are mounting a battle. What do we do?” He said, “In battling against the public and the government, in trying to protect these places, do not lead with oral history or with tribal law. Allow the landscape to speak for itself. Let the lore and the oral history stand as its witness.”
When I got that piece of advice, I stepped out of his office knowing that I had the answer. It only took me three days to figure out, I didn’t know what the hell he was talking about. How do you let a landscape speak for itself? I did not know. I began to ask and I began to ask in ceremony. Ultimately a few people began to surface in that region. There was one woman who is now part of our ceremonial landscape survey work, who had identified 80 distinct ceremonial stone landscapes, and had them mapped. She came forward with that. She had been looking at ceremonial stone landscapes since she was taken into the woods at age eight and shown them.
Creator and the ancestors began to deliver the people with all of the pieces of the puzzle. At the reservation, one of the things that we found was that we had buried, because you could only see the very top of this, we had buried a seat for observing astronomical events. This is a young man of the tribe sitting in that seat. This is the seat out of silhouette. You can see at the very top of it, the area that was visible. Just that. Once the area was cleared, we realized we in fact did have a seat. The photograph that I don’t have is the back side of this, that has a face. I will make sure in the future that that’s available.
It’s time? Thank you. I’m much slower than I thought I would be. Where I will go with this is that, those set of alignments from that seat. That’s one of the stones that it’s visualizing. This is a signal rock. This is a chamber, a Hasanek, our word for stone chamber. This is an alignment for looking at … That’s a seat, another seat. This is for looking at the Big Dipper at the time of the Equinox. This is another effigy figure and I’ll make my transition with this. Thank you so much for checking me on my time.
This is a whale effigy. A whale effigy, with that I would like to make this transition into our submerged landscape work, where Dr. Ella Sekatau gave us the pearl that we needed. That was that more than 15,000 years ago the ancient villages of the Narragansett were out where the ocean is now. Therefore we can ask the question, how will federal undertakings determine the presence or absence of those cultural resources out on the continental shelf? I turn it over to my colleague.
Valerie Grussing: Thank you, Doug. Doug Jones is a senior marine archeologist for BOEM, Gulf of Mexico region. He’s been with BOEM for five years and worked as a professional marine archeologist for fourteen. With a research focus on mid-19th and mid-20th century shipwrecks and general Gulf of Mexico maritime history. He received his MA from ECU, Maritime Studies program in 2007. His current responsibilities with BOEM include: Section 106 reviews of BOEM permitted oil and gas development and marine mineral extraction activities, oversight of archaeology studies funded through the agency’s environmental studies program, scientific diving projects in association with BOEM studies and inter agency partnerships and regional tribal consultation liaison.
Doug Jones: Thank you, Val. Thank you everybody else for allowing us to be part of this today. Thanks, Doug, for giving me a hard act to follow there. Doug’s presentation did provide an eloquent illustration of one of the primary objectives of the project that I’m going to be discussing, which is how do we as federal regulators, federal agencies, utilize that vast tribal knowledge to the extent that we’re allowed to be included in that tribal knowledge towards our regulatory responsibilities. From an archaeological perspective, how do we move past the conceptual or theoretical approach of Maritime Cultural Landscapes towards actually finding, identifying and managing these sites offshore during our Section 106 process?
I think Brandy said yesterday in her talk, how do we move past simply avoiding potential paleo land forms that we observe in geophysical data, and approving or denying OCS development projects based on an assumption of what may or may not be present, rather than based on actual real data on that presence or absence. Towards that end, in 2012, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management entered into a cooperative agreement with the University of Rhode Island, Graduate School of Oceanography and with the Narragansett Tribal Historic Preservation Office to develop or to fund a study titled “Developing Protocols for Reconstructing Submerged Paleo-Cultural Landscapes and Identifying Ancient Native American Archaeological Sites in Submerged Environments.” Or, since that doesn’t fit on our PowerPoint Slide, just the Submerged Paleo-Cultural Landscapes Project.
The study’s being co-PI’ed by Dave Robinson and John King at the University of Rhode Island, and by Doug Harris at Narragansett and the BOEM technical lead is Brian Jordan, who I’m sure most if not all of you are familiar with. He is our headquarters archeologist and federal preservation officer. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to be here this week, so he asked me to give a brief overview of this project in his place. Before I do, I’ll back up a little bit.
We showed this slide once or twice yesterday but to go over a little bit of our BOEM program. We manage offshore energy development for around 1.6 billion acres on the outer continental shelf. Our regulatory program is split up into three separate program areas: oil and gas, renewable energy and marine minerals, which is essentially sand and gravel extraction for coastal restoration projects. Underlying and supporting all those three program areas is a fourth program area. A fourth program office, which is the environmental studies program. This program is mandated by the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, which is the underlying federal legislation that gives the Department of the Interior responsibility over OCS energy management.
The mission statement of the environmental studies program is to provide the information needed to predict, assess and manage impacts from offshore energy and marine mineral exploration, development and production activities on human, marine and coastal environments. It’s another mouthful, but essentially this program is a funding mechanism, whereby our agency can conduct sound scientific studies, the recent results of which are then fed back into our decision making process for all of our regulatory program activities. Again, oil and gas, renewable energy and marine minerals. Since the 1990’s, BOEM has funded more than $14 million in archeology related studies nationwide.
Several of those studies have attempted to answer some of the questions we’ve been talking about over the past couple days, namely trying to model paleo-landscape recreations along all of our coastlines. In the Atlantic, we had a recent study in 2012 to inventory and analyze both ancient and historic archaeological sites, or archaeological site potential along the Atlantic coast CS. That study built on a few previous studies that covered the entire Atlantic coast dating back to the 1970’s and early 1980’s. One that covered from Florida to Cape Hatteras, then Cape Hatteras up to Maine. There have also been more recent studies in the Gulf of Mexico and Pacific, some which Dave Ball mentioned in his talk yesterday.
One common limitation of all those studies has been that they are essentially desktop studies that necessarily have a very broad level of analysis towards landscape recreations and modeling sea level change. They more or less look at the bathtub model because they’re looking at the entire coastline and have these very coarse hypotheses or models about what site potential looks like on the outer continental shelf because they’re looking at such a broad area. Of course, this doesn’t take into account the very localized topographical changes that are really the determining factors in site preservation, whether the site’s a low lying areas are quickly inundated and preserved or whether they’re exposed to longer during the marine transgression process and effectively obliterated throughout that destructive, erosional process.
As one example that came up in this study that John King had pointed out one time, and something that I, particularly as a shipwreck guy, had never really thought about but as sea level rises, so too does the surrounding water table. The project area that’s being studied here off the coast of Rhode Island, as the sea level rose relatively rapidly between 15,000 and 6,000 years ago, you also had a corresponding inland water level rise where inland lakes were expanding or in some cases being created. Then, as those continued to expand, you had a subsequent wider area that was attractive to Native American use and then again, as those lakes continued to expand those sites would be covered and theoretically preserved and protected in a fairly benign flooding environment. By the time that the saltwater intrusion actually happened several thousand years later, those sites might still be intact.
Those are the kinds of higher resolution data that our previous studies were not able to capture. Additionally, those studies did not include any field work components to attempt to ground troop the modeling conclusions that they were coming up with. Nor do they incorporate tribal oral histories or true tribal partners in the research designs. Those are all limitations that this current study was attempting to address. Namely, by bringing together scientific knowledge from archaeologists and geologists, along with tribal knowledge and perspectives to create a best practices approach that can be used by government resource managers to identify and evaluate submerged paleo-cultural landscapes and any preserved sites that they may contain.
I’ll just briefly go over the specifics of this study. It’s a fairly straightforward research design. There were four primary research areas beginning inland and near shore areas and then moving in a more or less linear transect out to the OCS. The first area is the up in the north part of Greenwich Bay, specifically Gorton Pond and Cedar Tree Beach, which is an area in North Greenwich Bay that has an abundance of Native American artifacts, points and flakes that have been washing up on the beach and being collected by locals for decades, going back … The artifacts themselves go back to at least 9,000 years I believe, if not a little bit older than that.
Second study area is off of Block Island. We’re looking at some analogous sites on the western side of the island. Third study area is called The Mudhole, which is one of these former fresh water lakes that is there east of current Block Island. Then finally, the Rhode Island and Massachusetts area of mutual interest, the large red box in the lower right. Again, it’s an area of mutual interest for a potential offshore renewable energy development. The PIs for this study have outlined a desired best practices approach, that at least initially, has taken a five step process towards looking at these sites.
The first is a paleo-environmental reconstruction of known preserved land forms and preserved archaeological sites in the inland environment. Moving on from that data to a predictive modeling of site locations based on seismic data offshore. Then, integrating the tribal and non-tribal oral histories into that predictive modeling. Then, to take that merged tribal knowledge with the remote sensing data, with the archaeological and geological data, and reconstructing potential submerged paleo landscapes. Then finally, to ground troop those areas with the hopes of identifying sites and moving onto excavation.
Additional, or along with, but arguably equally as important to the field work and data collection aspects of the study are objectives that are aimed more towards the interests of tribal coordination that was at the heart of this study. Those additional efforts include a series of multi-day workshops between scientific, tribal and government regulatory personnel. There’s been two of those so far with plans potentially for a third. Those meetings are intended to come to, or at least have a discussion mutual needs between all the parties, and everybody’s recommendation for best practices. What works? What doesn’t work? Whatever they hope to see out of this project. What are the next steps that should be taken?
Also there is an effort to train tribal scientists during this project. There were several members of the Narragansett that are now students at URI and have successfully completed scientific diver training through the university. They have been involved with every step of the field work so far, with the hope that they will, as their careers progress, then pass that scientific expertise and that diving expertise onto the next generation of tribal scientists. Finally, there is a documentary film that is being developed throughout this process as well, and I’ll show a short clip of the most recent YouTube video of that at the conclusion.
I think I mentioned that this is a four year study. We’re currently just wrapping up year three. The first year was focused on the Greenwich Bay part of the study area. I’m almost done. There was basically coring and diver excavations up in Greenwich Bay, along with some geo-physical magnetometer survey. Year two was … I’m sorry, that was year one and year two, was focused on that area. Year three, we spent some time off of Block Island. There was a state of Rhode Island and an archeologist with the Mashantucket Pequot have been doing some tractor work on the island following Hurricane Sandy that’s exposed a lot of paleo-landforms on the island itself.
Recently, noticed that there were some insatu trees in original growth positions and some exposed peat layers that were extending out to west of the island in the surf sound. We went back out with Dave Robinson and the tribal divers this past summer to do a preliminary mapping of how far that landscape extended out into the water. We mapped out 40 to 50 meters before it was covered over by the sand. There was cultural material that was preserved in that peat layer as you can see in some of those photographs. I believe for year four, next year, the plan is to do a little bit more work on mapping the area on Block island and also do an additional coring and AUV surveys in the OCS areas of the study, the Mudhole and the AMI.
That’s pretty much it. I’ll just conclude here with a short clip from the documentary. I mentioned it, it’s about two minutes long and this just will let you hear for yourselves from the words of some of the tribal participants and partners that we’ve had, and what they’ve gotten out of this project and hope to see moving forward.
Tribal Diver 1: But I don’t only do this for myself, I do this for my tribe. I do this for my ancestors. I do this for my son, I do this for my daughter. I do this for the generations to come.
Tribal Diver 2: It’s very important to me because I’m very passionate about the people and obviously the ancestors. This is a legacy for all tribes, because it’s not just my people, it’s all of us, we’re all one. If it’s important to us, then Indian Country should find it important also and maybe look into it. If they saw the things that we have found, they’d understand that.
Tribal Diver 1: It’s scientific in the research, all that, you usually don’t find them connect with the spiritual and cultural world. What we’re doing is we’re out in the field searching for those things.
Scientist 1: Those of us who are doing the excavations aren’t just non-tribal scientists, but also tribal scientists. They’re the ones who are doing the majority of the excavation work to identify cultural materials and they’re really taking an active leadership role in the day to day operations out on site. We’ve got young people that we’re working with, for some of them, this is their first opportunity at managing and directing work in the underwater. This project, because of the benign conditions that we’re working in, it’s close to shore, the water’s quite shallow. It’s a perfect opportunity, it’s a perfect classroom for training the next generation of underwater archeologists who are also tribal archeologists in the work that we’re doing.
Scientist 2: These young people who we we’re training, it would be my hope that with the inspiration of the ancestors, they will reread the laws that we have read and they will interpret the nuances that we may have not yet interpreted. They will push the law to better serve tribal historic preservation.
Doug Jones: Sorry, that’s the end of the audio. Sorry about the lag there. This computer didn’t like that video. Thank you.