Ohio Environmental Protection Agency
Environmental Protection Agency officials say 20,000 gallons of crude spilled from a damaged pipeline into a nature reserve in southwest Ohio.

Pipeline Leak Spotlights Threats to the Archaeoecology of the Ohio Valley

Geoffrey Sea

The name Miami is another clue. It designates three important rivers in Ohio—the Great Miami, the Little Miami, and the Maumee—all of which were settlement areas for the Miami people but were also vital areas for the tribe’s sacred birds. In the Miami or Myaamia language, the name means pigeon or dove, a reference to the now-extinct Passenger Pigeon (omemee in Ojibwe dialect).

The Miami, who are descendants of the Indians who built these enclosures, called themselves Twigtwee, which derives from the sound made by another tribal sacred migratory bird, the sandhill crane. Ancient depictions of sandhill cranes have been found at archaeological sites in southern Ohio. A sandhill crane is also depicted on the emblem of the Miami Tribe.

Yet another clue is the large Adena burial mound just south of the enclosure. These two works were clearly related and likely were built by the same Indians, contrary to the standard identification of the enclosure as “Hopewell,” a name that reflects a long confusion that wrongly saw the “Adena” and the “Hopewell” as two distinct peoples. Other major sites of the Adena Civilization such as Serpent Mound and the Mound City/Hopeton complex also had burial areas just south of geometric earthworks and enclosures.

This configuration would set spirits of the dead on the proper northward pathway, carried by migratory birds on their northward migration after spring nesting. That departed human spirits were believed to make the afterlife journey in bird form was a big motivational factor for the labors of earth-moving to protect the birds during nesting and migration. In the Algonquian totemic system, what made a bird sacred (not to be eaten) was its role in carrying spirits of the departed to their proper celestial destinations.

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