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American Indian Places: A Historical Guidebook

American Indian Places: A Historical Guidebook

by Frances H. Kennedy

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This historical guidebook includes 366 places that are significant to American Indians and open to the public. The book is organized geographically and includes location information, maps, and color photographs as well as suggestions for further reading about the sites and an extensive bibliography.

Among the 279 authorities who know and revere these places and


This historical guidebook includes 366 places that are significant to American Indians and open to the public. The book is organized geographically and includes location information, maps, and color photographs as well as suggestions for further reading about the sites and an extensive bibliography.

Among the 279 authorities who know and revere these places and have written essays on them and on topics relating to them are William deBuys, Suzan Shown Harjo, Frederick E. Hoxie, Clara Sue Kidwell, Malinda Maynor Lowery, Rennard Strickland, and David Hurst Thomas. Tribal culture committees and tribal historians also contributed essays. Frances H. Kennedy, the editor and principal contributor, has written short entries on more than a hundred of the places.

The places covered in the book include: Ganondagan State Historic Site in New York Kituhwa Mound in North Carolina, Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Illinois, Crystal River Archaeological State Park in Florida, Effigy Mounds National Monument in Iowa, Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming, Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico, Navajo National Monument in Arizona, Olompali State Historic Park in California, La Purisima Mission State Historic Park in California, Nez Perce National Historical Park in Idaho.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This will become an indispensable guide to those special places that remind us that every place we think we 'discovered' was already someone else's home." --Ken Burns, filmmaker

"A highly readable, extremely responsible and brilliant blend of guidebook entries and background essays by the most knowledgeable scholars and writers in the field of American Indian history and culture today. My earlier journeys sure would have been enriched with this wonderful book in the car. It opens up a brand new American experience for the adventuresome vacationer and armchair traveller alike." --Peter Nabokov, author of Where The Lightning Strikes: The Lives of American Indian Sacred Places

"American Indian Places is an indispensable guidebook to all of us who share the ancient human landscape of this continent. These are the landmarks of the intertwined histories of American Indians and those who came later. Descriptions of 366 places, written by nearly as many authors, have been gathered together in this remarkable book, which holds special meaning for American Indians." --Dean R. Snow, president of the Society for American Archaeology

"Anyone who is interested in the truly beautiful, distinctive, and spiritual places in this country will find this book all but indispensable. It is a precise and comprehensive guide to Native America, the definition of a landscape that is timeless and unique, above all an evocation of the sacred earth." --Scott Momaday, School for Advanced Research

Library Journal

This is a historical guide to 366 sites throughout the United States, all of which were utilized by native peoples prior to 1900 and are open to the public. Within five geographically organized sections, Kennedy (ed., The Civil War Battlefield Guide) lists the locales in chronological order. However, the only information provided for each place is its location. Travelers requiring information such as hours open to visitors will have to find it elsewhere because not only is it not here, there are no web addresses or phone numbers to help readers find out more about the respective places. The value in this work, however, is in the cultural and historical information contained within the essays connected to the entries. Many of these were written by either Native Americans who have a personal connection to the site or scholars who know the archaeological and historical record intimately through their own research. Interspersed among the entry essays are additional essays that contextualize the individual sites within the oral traditions and histories of the American Indian peoples who reside within the present-day United States of America. Recommended for public libraries.
—John Burch

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
7.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

American Indian Places presents 366 places that are significant to American Indians. Each place is open to the public and provides information about that significance. The book does not include places that became significant after 1900. Because so many voices speak through the book, it is more than place-based history. The Native voices share their emotional and cultural responses to the places and provide insights into what they mean to Native people. Many of the Native authors also tell about their people today. The non-Native voices provide archaeological and historical information about the cultures that these places embody. Thanks to all of these voices, American Indian Places has become a way to learn about Indian peoples and cultures from a perspective grounded in the places they revere.

The places are organized in five geographic sections, determined by the homelands and subsequent movements of the peoples for whom the places are significant. Within each section, the places are presented in rough chronological order according to the period of their most intense significance. If the significance of a place is not limited to a specific time, the place is presented after one that is nearby geographically. The places are numbered continuously throughout the book, and each place is followed by the abbreviation of the state name, to facilitate locating them on the section maps.

People who know and revere the places wrote essays on 229 of them. I wrote the short entries for 137 of the places, with the generous assistance of people who know them well (any errors are my own). As place-based history, this book cannot, by its very nature, tell about American Indians as comprehensively as books such as the Encyclopedia of North American Indians or The People: A History of Native America. So the book begins with three essays that provide an overview of the history of American Indians prior to 1900. Additional essays throughout the text provide general information about Native peoples…

1. Flint Ridge, OH
Off I-70 on Rte. 668, north of Brownsville Museum

About 10,000 years ago people began quarrying flint in a five-square-mile area here. They shaped the flint into knives, projectile points, and other tools, which were traded so widely that they have been found from the Atlantic coast to western Missouri.

2. Isle Royale National Park, MI:
The Minong Mine
Caven Clark and Tim Cochrane
By ferry from Houghton and Copper Harbor, MI, and from Grand Portage, MN

People began mining copper at Isle Royale National Park possibly as early as 4500 B.C. The copper is in the Keweenawan geologic formation and is also a component of the glacial drift concentrated by water action along the shorelines and in riverbeds to the south of the formation. Much of the mining was along the Minong Ridge, which the early people — and more recently the Ojibwe — reached by canoeing into McCargoe Cove. They left hundreds of pit and fissure mines as well as the cobble hammerstones used to separate the nearly pure copper from the basalt bedrock. They used cold-hammering techniques to make spear points, gaffs, hooks, awls, and other tools. More recent people made smaller objects, including knives and beads. They traded or exchanged copper as far as the Ohio Valley and Illinois, where it was fabricated into highly ornamented objects. The Ojibwe revered copper and associated it with the underwater being Mishebeshu, the Long-Tailed Underwater Panther, to which offerings were made for safe canoe passages across the lakes. The Ojibwe also used copper tablets to record clan genealogies.

Rumors and legends of an island made of copper in Lake Superior attracted French, English, and, later, American explorers, but the Indians kept secret the locations of large boulders of pure copper. After they lost control of the copper sites, Ojibwe worked as miners and fishermen on Isle Royale.Minong (the beautiful place in Ojibwe) continues to be important to Grand Portage and Canadian Ojibwe living along the north shore of Lake Superior.

Further reading: "A Risky Business: Late Woodland Copper Mining on Lake Superior," by Caven P. Clark and Susan R.Martin, in The Cultural Landscape of Prehistoric Mines, edited by Peter Topping and Mark Lynott

3. Rock House Reservation, MA
On Rte. 9, east of Ware

Glaciers carved this rock shelter, which people used as a winter camp from as early as 8000 B.C. until about the 1600s.

Early Mound Builders -- Bradley T. Lepper
The fertile valleys of the Ohio River and its many tributaries were home to people known for their prodigious and intricate earthen mounds and enclosures. A cascade of their innovations began to appear in the Ohio Valley by about 800 B.C., when hunting and gathering peoples began to settle in small villages. Their more sedentary way of life was supported by the earliest domesticated plants in this region, including squash, sunflower, maygrass, knotweed, and goosefoot. These early farmers made the region’s first pottery vessels and used them to store or cook their harvested crops. They also acquired exotic materials such as copper and marine shells to make ornaments and ritual objects. One of the most distinctive of these early farming cultures was the Adena, named by archaeologists after the estate of former Ohio governor Thomas Worthington, the location of a renowned burial mound. In the early 1900s archaeologists excavated the mound before it was leveled for cultivation. The most spectacular artifact found in the Adena mound was a marvelous cylindrical pipe sculpted in the form of a man, perhaps a shaman, wearing a decorated loincloth and a feather bustle. (It is now in the Ohio Historical Center.) The Adena culture was centered in southern Ohio, southern Indiana, northern Kentucky, and West Virginia from about 800 B.C. to A.D. 100. The people lived in small, dispersed villages, and the mounds may have been ceremonial hubs connecting networks of neighboring people. Two of the most impressive burial mounds are the Grave Creek and Miamisburg mounds, whereas the Story and Shrum mounds are perhaps more typical in size. Mounds State Park is one of the bestpreserved Adena earthwork centers. (The Adena mounds are places numbered 4 through 11.)

4. Grave Creek Mound Historic Site, WV
801 Jefferson Ave., Moundsville
Delf Norona Museum

This mound, built between about 250 and 150 B.C., was 69 feet high and 295 feet in diameter when measured in 1838.

5. South Charleston Mound, WV
In Staunton Park off U.S. 60 on Seventh Ave., South Charleston

This mound is 35 feet high and 175 feet in diameter.

Meet the Author

Frances H. Kennedy is the editor and principal contributor of the best-selling book The Civil War Battlefield Guide. Her work in land conservation over thirty years has focused on protecting lands that are significant in American history. Royalties from American Indian Places will be donated to the National Museum of the American Indian. W. Richard West, Jr., the museum’s founding director, served as the primary adviser for the book.

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