A Tradition of Giants and Ancient North American Warfare, Page 5

The romantic James A. Jones relates how, on the eve of the first armed encounter with the Allegewi, the strong love of a man of the Lenni Lenape for a beautiful maiden of the Allegewi was born:

It was night; the bands of the confederate nations were sleeping in their cabins, dreaming dreams of victory and glory, when Wangewaha, or the Hard Heart, sleeping in his tent, was aroused by the tread of a light foot on the earth at his side, and a voice sweeter than that of the linnet or the thrush. Looking up he saw, by the beams of the moon, a tall and beautiful woman, straight as a hickory, and graceful as a young antelope. She wore over her shoulders a cloak made of the tender bark of the mulberry, interlaced with the white feathers of the swan, and the gay plumage of the snake bird and the painted vulture. Wangewaha started from his sleep, for he knew her to be the beautiful maiden whom he had seen in his dream, ere he quitted the land of his father's bones-the shape tall and erect, the eye black and sparkling, the foot small and swift, the teeth white and even, the glossy dark hair, and the small plump hand.

The warrior (whose callus name, infers Jones, could have been changed at the sight of the tall beauty), listened to her story of how she was being made to marry one she could never love. Wengewaha, after consoling the young woman, bade her to spend the remainder of the night with his sister, who was nearby.

But the passion of love arose in the warrior's heart, and he determined that, if the Great Spirit should give him victory in the approaching contest, the beautiful maiden should become his wife.

Thus is related the story of the Lenape commingling romantically with the Lenape Cusick carries out this understanding of the mixing of giants with folk of [lesser stature only reversing the sexes. He relates the story of a giant abducting the daughter of a noble chieftain. Her brothers search for her, and are taken unaware when they find she has fallen in love with the giant, becoming uninterested in returning to her family. Interestingly, there is biblical reference to such relations between giants and people of smaller physical type:

And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. Genesis 6:1-2

The possibility of the Allegewi having passed on their "tradition" of giants may not be far fetched at all, especially in the understanding that the Lenape folk, in crossing over the Mississippi, likely did so with their woman and children, not suspecting an attack. In the course of the Great War, would it not have been feasible that the Allegewi, as likewise the Lenape, took to themselves, at any given opportunity, the desirable womenfolk of their adversaries? Hence would come an explanation for the selected taller members of the Adena, especially among the later Adena, when enough time had passed to refine the mating ritual of the elite stock. For these children, after all, would have been in the direct lineage of they that had so bravely risked their lives in the defeat the Allegheny warriors.

Adena Fate, Hopewell Destiny Heckewelder writes:

In the end, the conquerors divided the country between themselves, the Mengwe made choice of the lands in the vicinity of the great lakes, and on their tributary streams, and the Lenape took possession of the country to the south.

So the Mengwe (later Iroquois) took the lands north, and, as we may assume from the account, the Lenape took for their own the Ohio Valley with all its tributaries and streams. In this might we not assume the new masters of the Ohio Valley inherited not only the possessions of the Allegewi, but their lore of the region's natural resources as well? Being prompted and educated by the extant inhabitants, would they not have quickly developed the supposedly unique arts and crafts of the "Adena?" Unfortunately we cannot discern a possible Allegewi trinket from an Adena one, for if the ancient post war scenario resembled anything like what the white settlers enacted, that would explain less evidence for any perceivable Allegheny legacy.

Heckewelder also notes that many of the Lenape people stayed back on the western shores of the Namesi Sipu, being frightened by the fierce reception of the Allegewi. This might explain the presence of only the stronger and more necessarily hierarchical "Mexican" traditions being applied at the onset of the Adena culture, if they came along at all. That, combined with the possibility of a diminished number of men, and the probable nonadmittance of the northern Mengwe in their new local politics, could have manifested itself in the difficult-to-explain origins of the Adena with their skeletal type. But then, as the peace extended itself, and more of the formally diffident Lenape cultural messengers arrived and took root in the region from west of the Mississippi, the effect could have been more of the "missing" Mexican traits appearing in the later tombs. At the same time, and as the old Lenape tradition asserted itself more and more, the stronger diagnostic traits of the early Adena, rich in the possible spoils of the great war, would have exited, leaving evolved and improved versions to be associated with the emerging Hopewell.

But what became of the Adena? Were they indeed forced out by the Hopewell? In this, Heckewelder recounts this interesting bit of information:

For a long period of time, some say hundreds of years, the two nations resided peaceably in this country, and increased very fast; some of their more enterprising huntsmen and warriors crossed the great swamps, and falling on streams running to the eastward, followed them down to the great Bay River thence into the Bay itself which we call Chesapeake [sic]. As they pursued their travels, partly by land and partly by water, sometimes near and at other times on the great Saltwater Lake, as they call the Sea they discovered the great river, which we call the Delaware; and thence exploring still eastward the Scheyiekba country, now named New Jersey, they arrived at another great stream, that which we call the Hudson or North River.

The "great swamps" are said to be the old wetlands along the west base of the Appalachians. The account then returns some of these men after their long absence to the main body of people, and they tell of the natural resources and the gifts that lay to the east. Heckewelder continues:

Satisfied with what they had seen, they (or some of them) after a long absence, returned to their nation and reported the discoveries they had made; they described the country they had discovered as abounding in game and various kinds of fruits, and the rivers and bays with fish, tortoises, &c, together with abundance of water-fowl, and no enemy to be dreaded. They considered the event as a fortunate one for them, and concluding this to be the country destined for them by the Great Spirit they began to emigrate thither, yet in small bodies, so as not to be straitened for want of provisions by the way, some even laying by for a whole year; at last they settled on the four great rivers (which we call Delaware, Hudson Susquehanna, and Potomack) [sic], making the Delaware ... the center of their possessions.

Our best Adena scholars have studiously submitted that the Adena, having lived in the Ohio Valley for a number of centuries, showed evidence of outlying settlements, by the appearance of their known traits, in places far to the east. Says Dragoo:

Ritchie's extensive archaeological studies in the Northeast indicate Adena influence also spread into that region (Ritchie and Dragoo, 1960 p.26-62). Although some Adena traits may have filtered into New York state [sic] from the upper Ohio Valley earlier in Adena the majority of traits appear similar to those of the late Maryland and Delaware Adena sites. The distribution of Adena materials along the east coast and in the Northeast also indicates that there may have been a migration route from Chesapeake Bay to Delaware Bay then northward via the Delaware River into New Jersey and beyond. Some Adena peoples also may have moved from the Chesapeake Bay area up the Susquehanna River into New York.

He then adds that in his and his colleague's opinion, it is more than coincidental that the extensions of these ancient folk occurred about the same time in the middle Adena period. He goes on to say that the presence of artifacts in these outlying areas cannot be considered the result of "the wandering of traders in search of new markets or raw materials." He then asks the question of why groups of Adena people would find it a necessity to leave their homeland in the Ohio Valley.

Was the later Hopewell, after the loss of the Adena type to migration, dominantly composed of the northern Mengwe ancestral stock? In the words of Dragoo in his summations of Webb and Snow:

The traits shared by Adena and Hopewell were those already present in late Adena and donated by Adena to the new Hopewell culture which formed after the contact of Adena peoples with a long-headed population which had lived north of the area of Adena occupation.

Since Heckewelder's accounts preceded even the broader knowledge of the Ohio Valley mounds, we may have a series of clues to begin to help answer our better investigators' questions concerning these mysteries of the Adena. The time of a supposed entry in the Ohio Valley, followed by a few centuries of settlement (middle Adena) and the subsequent movement eastward-virtually identical to Heckewelder's descriptions-may be valuable considerations in the now centuries long inquiry embodying the mystery of the Adena. A possible movement southward by the Mengwe only reinforces the understanding that the Adena, having recognized themselves as physically and ancestrally different from the Mengwe, chose to move on eastward, maintaining their stock for awhile.

Author's Note

The notion of whether the Cherokee were in the region of the Ohio Valley in relatively recent times (approximately 1000 C.E. upward) is quite possible, they having inherited the name of "Talligewi" in loose legend. It may well be that history in a sense repeated itself in that the Delaware and (or) the Iroquois still held claim to the Ohio territory, and drove these people out, even as they were squatters claiming the vacated premises, considered still as hunting grounds to the former occupants. Besides that, the Cherokee have never claimed to have constructed mounds, though it is said they built atop existing mounds. In addition, there have never, at any time, been giants among the Cherokee, such as related by the antique legends.

Selected Bibliography

Dragoo, Don W., Mounds For The Dead. Pittsburgh, PA: Carnegie Museum, 1963.

Heckewelder, John, History, Manners, and Customs of the Indian Nations, The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1876 (originally published in 1819).

Jones, James Athearn, Traditions of the North American Indians, London: Colburn and gently, 1830.

Silverberg, Robert, The Mound Builders, Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 1986.

Webb, William S. and Charles E. Snow, The Adena People, Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky, 1945.

2000 Ross Hamilton
Computer Images ©2000 Patricia Mason
All rights reserved
Ancient American, Issue #36, pp 6 - 13
Reprinted with permission

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