Native Americans in Columbus

This past weekend, Pete and I were working in our respective gardens. His garden is in the back and is full of native woodland and prairie plants. My front garden is a more traditional garden, with some natives but mostly non-native plants. My philosophy on gardening is this: I buy a plant that I like; any plant that comes back the next year and lives through the whole growing season is a good plant, one that I will buy more of. Of course, remembering what the name of the plant is is another story.

I had been expanding the front garden a little bit, taking out the grass. In working the soil, I came across the usual insect larvae (not doing so well with all the rain) and bits of clinker coal from our house’s original furnace. The occasional odd stone would turn up, too. I found one that looked like flint, and put it aside to look at later. Of course, I immediately forgot that I had it.

After we had finished working, Pete came in with something to show me. Turns out, it was a piece of flint that he thinks was used as a scraper. It fit so perfectlyNative American flint scraper in between his thumb and forefinger, so it might have been used for delicate work. That reminded me of my stone, which I brought in and washed off. It too, was flint. We think it was also used as a scraper, but more to burnish the hides. It has one side that is perfectly flat. I remembered as  a kid hunting for arrowheads in my uncle’s fields near Canal Fulton, Ohio. I only found a few, but it was very exciting when one turned up.

Finding the flint made me curious about the Native Americans that would have lived in Central Ohio. I did a little research on the Internet and found out that the Olentangy River (the closest river to our house) was originally called keenhongsheconsepung, a Delaware Indian word translated as “stone for your knife stream.”It was named this because of the shale along its banks. Further investigating showed me that Mingo Indians had settled along the Scioto River in downtown Columbus. So at this point, I am unsure what tribe might have made the scrapers. If anyone has more definitive information, please post a comment to let me know.

I wonder what Ohio would have been like for these Native Americans, before the land was settled, how the trees and plains would have looked. Pete and I haveHueston Woods old growth tree traveled to some of the remnants of prairie still left in Ohio. The plants are very amazing to see  with roots that went very deep to survive fires and droughts. Many were taller than I was. We’ve also gone to a few of the old growth forests in Ohio with trees so big that Pete couldn’t even get his arms around them. You look up, and the branches seem to go on forever. And the stories those branches could tell us if we knew how to listen…

Until next time.

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3 responses to “Native Americans in Columbus

  1. When we were digging a patio, I wondered about past people digging in the same spot. I’m always hoping to dig up something — if not a piece of flint, at least some old shards of dishware! I really enjoy knowing about our area’s history — so thank you for this post and the links, too!

  2. We have a small glass jar in our kitchen full of things we have found outside: old insulators, Indian head pennies, shards of glass and pottery, marbles and whatnot. There are newer things like Hot Wheels, too! I love history, and I love the image that you created in my mind about someone from the past digging in the same spot. That’s a lovely thought and one I will hold in my head the next time I’m in the garden.

  3. I am 29, a whole life resident of Clintonville, and am really starting to become very intrigued by what tribes of Indians have made Clintonville home and what things they may have left for us to find and discover. I grew up fishing on the Olentangy any day the weather was good. I lived on Glen Echo Drive and would go to the park and explore the creek almost everyday. I too love history and when spring and those good rains drop, I can’t wait to go looking! `

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