I learned to look for Indian relics when I was a very young lad, in the year of 1954.
Back then, there were a lot of remains of old villages throughout the county back. Some have asked me how we knew where to look. There were certain things that would tip off a person off that there may have been a village in a given area.
First, if you came upon an area where the ground had a lot of flint rock lying around, that was a good place to start. If it had flint rock and old broken pottery, you have definitely found a village. Upon careful observation one could find arrowheads, spear heads, corn pounders and a variety of scrapers. Generally, a short distance from a village was a burial ground. Many tribes didn’t bury their dead. They propped them up on an elevated device above ground. But in our area, they buried their dead underground in a mound.
Many of the mounds became uncovered over the years and bones, skulls, a variety of weapons and tools lay near the deceased. As major rivers were dammed and water covered the mounds relics could be found in spoil piles near the banks of the Illinois River. A spoil pile is earth that has been dredged up from the river bottom and deposited on the shoreline. This was done to maintain a navigation channel.
My dad and I always checked any new spoil piles that we found along the river. Because his father lived when there still were some tribes present in Illinois, he passed on this knowledge to him and he passed it on to me. It was very interesting hands-on history.
Unfortunately, Indian relics are very scarce today. I can only imagine that they have been picked over or buried because of industry. Most Indians I know are casino owners, commercial fishermen or engineers. I attended a very fine Indian, history seminar years back at Shabbona Lake. My good friend Denny Sands invited my wife and I to attend. It was very informative indeed. The Sioux Indian that gave the seminar was an engineer, so we have a lot to talk about.
He still followed a lot of the old tribal customs, even though he was an educated man. Why did he do it? Many Indians are still very reverent to their ancestors and religious beliefs.
- I received word out of Canada that the waterfowl population is booming. With the above average rainfall we have experienced this year, nesting grounds are filled with wetlands. This is not only true in Canada but also in the prairie potholes in Nebraska. This should be a very good duck and goose seasons.
- Wild turkeys are rebounding as well. I have seen two hens with about six to eight polts following her this past week.
- River systems are returning to normal today. That should help unless we get more heavy storms this week. Some Ottawa residents are catching some nice catfish off the banks. Minnows are still scarce, but some guys are seining a few near creek mouths. There are very few river herring or gizzard shad so far.
- FRED KRAUSE, of Marseilles, can be reached by emailing email@example.com.