The Chicago Tribune has an outdoor article about canoeing
that includes American Indian Red Ochre Pictographs, the Winter
Solstice, the Pleiades, etc.
Of note is the tie-ins of the Winter Solstice with natives of most
all lands on Earth.
Of the use of Red Ochre, used by Australian Aborigines over
75,000 years ago, mined in Swaziland, Africa, 40,000 years ago,
covering the body of a boy in a cave (Red Lady of Paviland), 16,000
years ago in Paviland, Swansea, Wales, found at the bottom of post
holes at Stonehenge, England, etc.
Of mention of the Pleiades, used for timing Beltain/Samhain in
Celtic lands, mentioned in the Bible, important to Japanese and named
"Subaru" along with the car, etc.
Excerpts of the article are included.
The complete article by John Husar should be read fro completeness.
Lowell McFarland <[log in to unmask]>
ON THE OUTDOORS
Etched in stone
But what these Indian drawings depict isn't
Web posted: Feb. 18, 1997
ELY, Minn.--For many of the thousands of wilderness canoeists
who venture here, the height of a summer voyage into the
U.S.-Canadian boundary waters includes a rare peek at old Indian
Some have become regular stops on defined water trails.
Others are well off the popular loops, known mostly to a close-knit
fraternity of amateur historians who protect these fragile markings on
stone cliffs with a loose veil of silence.
The curious will paddle a full day to share the same space as
Indian travelers, decoding these painted messages as imaginatively as
mind and culture permit.
There are about 300 known pictograph sites in the interlace of
forested lakes and rivers between Hudson Bay and Duluth. So far, 30
have been found in the Quetico-Superior wilderness that borders Ely.
Theories abound as to why Indians mixed iron dust into a red
ochre paste to draw figures upon these rocky faces. Were they
signaling other tribal members who might pass the area? Were they
marking particularly favored camp sites? Were they recording great
hunts, paying homage to the gods or simply wiling away time?
Pictographs normally are brief stops on a busy canoe trip,
hardly more than photo ops. There are portages to cross, camps to
build, suppers to cook.
But these pictographs were well worth the effort. Painted 10
feet above the water line from a rock shelf large enough to
accommodate several sitters, an overhang protects them from
extremes of weather, including abrasive ice. They seemed very old.
The central subject is an hourglass figure with seven red dots
above his left shoulder. Below him, a wolf or panther trails a moose.
Three canoes drift above.
Keepers of local legends have embraced the theory of an Indian
studies professor that the hourglass figure represents the
Orion, which Algonquin Indians revered as ``Wintermaker,'' the spirit
who heralds the best hunting season.
When Orion rises in the east, lakes already have frozen and
there is renewed freedom of movement. The biting flies and nasty
mosquitoes have disappeared. Big game can be patterned, and the
meat easily frozen for storage.
The wolf or cougar also involves a constellation visible at this
time, probably the Hare.
``It depends on how you connect the dots in the sky,'' noted a
spokesman for Chicago's Adler Planetarium.
Needless to say, this Wintermaker icon faces east, right where
Orion would be at the winter solstice. Those three canoes supposedly
represent the Milky Way--to Indians, the ``river of souls.'' The seven
red dots could be the constellation Pleiades, regarded by Indians as
``lost children'' in the sky.
While I am no astronomer, I do understand why Indians might
have gathered at this Hegman Lake rock shelf to kick off their hunting
There cannot be many more picturesque spots on earth, so rich
Frankly, I would be pleased to return there in late fall just to see
what they saw in the sky, to mull these theories.
I would show up at sunset and sit on that rock shelf as night falls
and hope for a clear, starlit sky. I would spend that night with
Wintermaker and his mystical companions. All night, perhaps, on a
wondrous, silent rocky shelf.