festivals fuel interest
in areas Native American lore
The Shadow of the Buffalo festival
returns to Carrollton
(April 2001) Madison, In There
are many aspects to Kentuckys rich heritage. One
of the earliest is that of the Native Americans. People
such as Don Cox, a La Grange, Ky., resident of Cherokee
and Apache descent, travel around Kentucky sharing the
ways of the Native American.
We want to educate people in the Native
American tradition, said Cox. Kentucky is
very diversified when it comes to Native American backgrounds.
He added that tribes such as Cherokee, Mohawk, Apache,
Seneca, Navajo, Sioux, Shawnee and even Iroquois are just
some of the many that have roots in the Northern Kentucky
Cox is coordinator for the Shadow of Buffalo Festival,
which is in its third year. The festival is held five
times a year in various Kentucky locations, in addition
to public appearances of a smaller magnitude. The next
appearance will be over the weekend of April 27-29 at
the Outdoor Classroom, east of Carrollton, Ky.
Carroll County has been exceptionally good in accepting
us in the area, said Cox.
The outdoor classroom location provides a more remote
setting for the festival. The classroom is an outdoor
facility leased to the Carroll County Board of Education
by Dow Corning. It is used throughout the year by schools
and various other educational entities in not only Carroll
County but Henry, Owen and Trimble as well. Steve Miracle,
a social studies instructor at the Tri-County Education
Center in Carrol-lton, is assisting Cox in staging the
A lot of people in this area have Native American
bloodlines but dont really have an idea of the history,
said Miracle. Were trying to keep something
alive. If the history is not presented, it will be lost.
Miracle said many native languages have already been lost
because of Indian intermarriage with other cultures. Miracle
instrumented the idea of bringing the festival to Carrollton
after seeing it in Shelbyville, Ky., in September 1999.
Carrolltons festival will begin at 9 a.m. Friday
with activities geared toward schoolchildren. The public
opening will be the next morning at 9 a.m. Throughout
the course of the day, spectators will be able to experience
what is called The Grand Entry, where all
the tribes enter in a ceremonial formation.
Other rites and ceremonies that will take place at Shadow
of Buffalo will be in the form of dance and storytelling.
Hawk Laughing, a Mohawk Indian who currently resides in
Louisville, participates in many of these dances.
There are so many different tribes that participate,
there are so many different styles, said Hawk Laughing.
Other aspects of the festival will include storytelling
and craft demonstrations, such as beadwork and leatherwork.
Cox said that 27 different tribes will be represented
at the festival.
The Shadow of Buffalos presence in Northern Kentucky
is just part of the long Native American history that
has been extant in the area. Much time has been spent
in the area linking artifacts from the past with Native
Four years ago, Carroll County High School social studies
teacher Sheree Richter led her class participation
in two archeological digs in cooperation with Dow Corning
and the Kentucky Archaeological Survey and uncovered many
artifacts they believed to be from Native American periods
of time. The digs took place at two various sites off
Verification by research of archaeologists and methods
of carbon dating implemented by the University of Kentucky
suggested the artifacts link to the middle to late
Archaic period. This period was divided into three stages
of time. Early Archaic ranged from 8,000 B.C. to 6,000
B.C.; Middle from 6,000 B.C. to 3,000 B.C.; and Late from
3,000 B.C. to 1,000 B.C.
It was a wonderful opportunity to have hands-on
experience in the historical recollection of our county,
said Richter. If you can uncover your past, it tells
something about your future. It tells where we have come
as a society.
If you understand the history of the land, you understand
the resources and their unique value, said John
Romans, an environmental specialist at Dow Corning. Dow
Corning officials had been looking to develop the land
adjacent to Hwy. 42, but in order to obtain a permit for
the land, it had be investigated to ensure that development
would not disturb any resources of cultural significance.
Romans said Dow Corning saw the experience as two-fold,
especially since it was providing students with an educational
opportunity to work with archaeologists and their methods.
It appears this was excellent hunting ground,
said Romans of the land.
Indeed, particular artifacts found in the two digs included
projectile points, drills, knives, scrapers, spokeshavers,
utilized flakes, cores and hammerstones. According to
Richter and the results of the study, the land along Hwy.
42 had to be a hunting ground, because the dig did not
uncover artifacts, such as pottery or burial ground, that
suggested the Indians were stationary.
Most of the tribes were hunter gatherers. They were
not stationary in one place. They came, they hunted and
they went on, Richter said.
Carroll County is not the only area along the Ohio Rivers
Kentucky shoreline where Native American artifacts have
been found. Pieces from beyond the Archaic period have
been discovered around the riverbanks of Trimble County.
Those who made these discoveries wish to remain anonymous
but have compared the objects they have found to information
in books. Various archaeologists have also came to study
According to these two sources, pieces dating from 10,000
B.C. to 7,000 B.C. are from the Paleolithic Period. Particular
pieces found that resemble paleolithic characteristics
include lance-shaped stones with two end lobes that point
downward and drill-shaped stones that were used to drill
holes, as holes made in other stones suggest.
Archaic Period stones tend to be more serrated on the
edges with the end lobes pointing more to the sides than
downward. The next period, the Woodland, ranged from 1,000
B.C. to 1,000 A.D., and had a great deal of wider stones
that had more smoothly textured sides. Finally, the Mississippian
period, from 1,000 A.D. to 1,600 A.D., contained stones
that had mainly distinctive, triangular points.
Pieces found, such as pottery and more advanced tools
like grooved axes, can be attributed to the later Woodland
and Mississippian periods, in which there was higher Indian
activity and settlement in the area.
Gallatin County also bears a long history of Native American
activity from artifacts found there. Tom Ellis, a Maines
Hardware employee in Warsaw, Ky., has been collecting
Native American relics and studying Indian presence in
Northern Kentucky for six years.
The Indians were mostly nomads probably up to 1,000
B.C., he said. Most of their villages were
Ellis cited particular locations in Gallatin County where
Native American remains have been found. His findings
have included not only arrowheads and tools, but mounds
where Dans Marina, Paint Lick Baptist Church and
Steeles Bottom now sit.
These mounds were used for protection as well as
burial, Ellis said.
Ellis has done mostly prehistoric research and spoken
to an archaeologist from the University of Louisville.
He suspected from his findings that the tribes that migrated
along the Ohio River eventually led to the heavy presence
of the Shawnee tribe. He found evidence of this tribes
presence through maps from the 1700s and suggested they
evolved into a tribe during the Mississippian period.
He has found stones, axes and arrowheads that he has dated
to this period of time, particularly around Steels Bottom.
It was probably one of the largest Shawnee camps,
Carroll, Trimble and Gallatin counties are just some of
the areas in Northern Kentucky with a rich Native American
history. The trek to uncover the past is far from over,
and developments are constantly occurring. Festivals and
artifacts have proven to be a significant key to keeping
Kentuckys Native American Heritage alive.