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Adelaide K. Bullen, Editor
7 da Athropolica Societ
florida Anthropological Society
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CARVED OWL TOTEM, DE LAND, FLORIDA ............. Ripley P. Bullen 61
UNUSUAL FIGURINE FROM THE GEORGIA COAST ..... Lewis H. Larson, fr. 75
THE CALUMET CEREMONY OF THE SEMINOLE INDIANS .... Wilfred T. Neill 83
CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS ISSUE ................... ............. 89
Fig. 1. Owl totem pole at Thursby Midden near De Land, Florida.
(On left. suoDorted for picture by A. B. Peterson. Jr.. Sanford.
CARVED OWL TOTEM, DE LAND. FLORIDA
Ripley P. Bullen
A large owl totem pole was dragged from the muck of the St. Johns River
near De Land by Mr. Victor Roepke of Eustis, Florida, late in June, 1955
(Fig. 1, frontispiece). It had been uncovered originally by a dragline operator
working for Mr. Roepke, owner of the land. Due to its size and weight it was
necessary to use chains and power equipment to get the pole on land. This
pole, the largest thing of its kind known for Florida, is now at the Florida
State Museum, Gainesville, where it is on exhibit.
As will be seen in Figure 2, the totem pole consists of three portions:
the owl proper, about 6 feet high; a lower part, rectangular in cross section
and about 4 feet long; and the lowest portion, about 30 inches long, which is
partly rotted away. Presumedly, the pole was originally set upright in the
ground near the river, with the perch for the owl's feet about 4 feet high.
The portion in the ground may have rotted away, permitting the pole to fall
into the river, or river erosion at the pole's location may have caused it to
fall. Such events may have occurred simultaneously. In any case, preserva-
tion of the totem pole for several hundred years is the result of its having
been buried in muck under water.
Probably associated with this pole in a temporal sense was a unique
shell-marked, casuela-shaped vessel of St. Johns (chalky) paste (Fig. 4).
It was found by Mr. A. B. Peterson, Jr., of Sanford, in a fragmentary condi-
tion in one scoop-load of the dragline. This scoop-load came from the same
location as the owl totem.
THE TOTEM POLE
The owl totem pole was carved by Indians from the trunk of a large tree.
The overall length, including the fragment of the base which had not com-
pletely rotted away, is 12 feet 2 inches (Fig. 2). The greatest cross section,
at the middle of the owl, is 17 inches wide and 11 inches deep. The lower
portion is rectangular in cross section, 5 to 5.5 inches deep, and tapers
slightly from a width of 17.5 inches at the feet of the owl to a width of 15
inches just above the rotted portion. The pole has been examined by Dr.
Reynolds B. Smith of the School of Forestry, University of Florida; he identi-
fied it as one of the southern pines.
The owl totem pole was made by a skilled craftsman who not only knew
his tools and medium but also was a skilled draftsman. There are no metal
tool marks on the totem pole. Evidence of three kinds of tools is present.
On the back and sides of the owl are innumerable medium-fine grooves, posi-
tive evidence of the use of "knives" having shark's teeth as "blades."
Decorative grooves on the owl were cut with a knife (Fig. 3). Apparently
a stone knife was used but it is possible they were incised with a shark's
tooth knife. These incised lines vary from 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch in width and
appear to have been lined with a black or dark brown substance.
The lower portion of the pole clearly shows many shallow, concave
marks, typical of gouge-like tools (Fig. 2, back view). Undoubtedly these
were made by shell gouges. All surfaces of the lower part of the pole are
rather smooth. It is likely that after securing a fairly good surface by care-
ful work with gouges, the surface was ground with sand to remove high spots.
As will be noted from the illustrations, the totem pole represents an
owl standing at rest on top of a prepared "roost" or "perch." The craftsman
clearly had in mind one of the owls with tufted ears, either the common
screech owl or the rarer (in recent times at least) great horned owl. Due to
the larger size of the great horned owl and due to the exaggerated "horns"
on the totem, the latter bird seems the more likely candidate as a model.
From the top of the horns to the bottom of the talons, the owl measures
6 feet 3 inches (Fig. 2). The tops of the horns are nearly round, 7 by 8
inches. Interestingly, the bottom of the tail, which measures 11 inches
across, has been left at the same elevation as the bottom of the talons (Fig.
3). The middle portion of the owl is more or less rectangular in cross section
with rounded corners. Similarly, each leg is a rounded rectangle in cross
The owl carving is an interesting combination of naturalism and conven-
tion. The beak and horns are exaggerated. The eyeballs are set back into
the head in a manner similar to the way they appear in an owl. The iris is a
circle, 3.5 inches in diameter, incised within an incised, slightly curved,
diamond-shaped area. Presumedly this represents half-closed eyelids. On
each side of the beak and the adjacent portion of the borders of the eye
sockets have been cut representations of nostrils (Fig. 5, right). Enclosing
an area below the beak is an incised oval (Figs. 1 and 2). Presumedly, this
was cut to represent the white feathers which occur at this location on the
Fig. 2. Front and back view of owl totem pole.
From this oval to the talons, there appears to have been no decoration on
the front of the bird. While incision may have become lost in this area, omis-
sion of incision here would appear to be logical from the viewpoint of the
neutral coloring of the front of an owl.
In carving the owl, the craftsman added one feature which suggests
anthropomorphism. The bird is shown with five instead of four talons (Figs.
1 and 2). This must have been done intentionally as certainly the craftsman
knew how many talons an owl possessed.
The sides and rear of the figure are richly incised in a checkerboard
manner to represent feathers (Fig. 2). Examination of the pattern will disclose
that these incisions must have been carefully and symetrically planned. In
the middle of the back and at both edges, where the back and sides meet, a
space has been left between every other pair of incisions.
On the sides, half of these incised lines (those that slope upwards) have
been brought almost to the front edges (Fig. 3). Also on the sides, behind or
beside the eyes and extending up onto the horns, are special incised designs
(Fig. 4, upper). These consist of two concentric semi-circles repeated four
times within two semi-circular lines. This incision probably represents the
radial feathers typical of owls.
On the back the artist has carefully indicated the difference between
wing and tail feathers (Figs. 2 and 3). As an additional realistic detail, the
underpart of the tail has been painstakingly carved to represent the under
feathers (Fig. 3).
THE POTTERY VESSEL
Mention has been made of a casuela-shaped vessel found in a fragmen-
tary condition in a scoop-load of muck which came from the same location as
the owl totem. The restored vessel is illustrated in Figure 4.
This vessel was made of chalky or St. Johns paste by some form of
coiling or similar segmental building. It is 12 inches in maximum diameter.
The bottom of the base is slightly concave. All of the inside, including the
inside of the turned-in rim, and the basal portion of the outside show many
marks made with a scraping tool. No attempt seems to have been made to
remove these marks. While the identification is not positive, the size and
depth of the marks suggest the edge of a brown cockle shell (Dinocardium
robustum, Sol.) was the scraping tool.
The upper portions of the outside exhibit vertically-applied impressions
made with the edge of a shell. Experimentation indicates duplicate marks
Fig. 3. Details of tail and of attachment to perch.
may be made with a brown cockle shell (Dinocardium robustum, Sol.).
Our problem is to place the owl totem in its proper cultural and temporal
period and, if possible, to interpret the meaning it had for inhabitants of the
Indian village where it was found. This necessitates a brief discussion of
the site and comparative information.
The owl totem pole and the casuela-shaped vessel came from the river
muck at the site of the Thursby Midden (Vo-35). This site is located at the
extreme southern end of the Beresford peninsula, about 5 miles southwest of
the center of De Land. Most of the midden has been removed for commercial
purposes. The remaining portion is composed predominantly of small, fresh-
water, snail shells.
The Thursby midden was visited by Wyman prior to 1874. He described
it as a shell ridge nearly 6 feet high and about 600 feet in length. To the
rear of one end of the shell midden was a conical burial mound (Wyman, 1875,
p. 29). Moore, who excavated in the burial mound during the winter of 1892-93
and again in 1894, included in his report a picture of the eroded river side of
Thursby Midden (Moore, 1894, p. 159). This picture showed the midden to
be at least 10 feet high where the picture was taken. As suggested earlier,
such erosion may have toppled the totem pole into the St. Johns River.
Both Wyman and Moore state that a site directly across the river from
the Thursby Midden was considerably larger both in height and area. In
keeping with its larger size, it apparently had two burial mounds. Remnants
of the larger site may still be seen today. Assuming both sides of the river
were inhabited at the same time, the village where the totem pole was found
was a fairly large-sized settlement.
In the Thursby Mound, Moore found a quantity of small clay effigies
made in many different forms (Moore, 1894, pp. 64-82; 158-167). Among
them was one of a bird and the heads of three ducks. The bird, about 3
inches in length, apparently represented a wild turkey. Based on a check-
stamped vessel, types of incised decoration, and other details similar to
things found in the Weeden Island period of the Gulf Coast, Moore's collec-
tions may be considered as belonging in the St. Johns IIa period, approxi-
mately 1100-1400 A.D. (Goggin, 1952, p. 36). Stylistically none of these
things resemble the owl totem nor the casuela-shaped vessel mentioned
Moore also found several iron celts or axes, one ornament of gold, and
one of silver. The ornaments were drilled for suspension and were decorated
Fig. 4. Incised ear-decoration on owl totem and casuela-shaped vessel.
around their peripheries with small bosses. Such ornaments are typical of
early post-Columbian times in Florida when the Indians were getting a small
amount of silver and gold, possibly from wrecks of Spanish vessels. Moore
found these onaments associated with burials at rather shallow depths (Moore,
1894, p. 67). They indicate that the burial mound and, presumedly, the midden
were used by Indians during the sixteenth century (St. Johns IIc times).
Our surface collection from the Thursby Midden includes Orange Plain,
Orange Incised, St. Johns Plain, and St. Johns Check Stamped sherds as well
as one sherd from a Spanish olive-jar. This collection indicates occupation
at the midden during the Orange period (around 1000 B.C.) and during St.
Johns IIa and IIb times (about 1100-1500 A.D.).
The casuela-shaped vessel (described above) represents a Mississippian
vessel form and should correlate with the St. Johns IIb Period, or post 1400
A.D., when the inhabitants of the St. Johns River were receiving influences
from the Ft. Walton period of the Gulf Coast (Goggin, 1952, p. 36). The
Spanish olive-jar sherd and the metal ornaments found by Moore in the burial
mound indicate continued occupancy in post-Columbian times or during the
For comparative purposes we have included an illustration of an eagle
totem pole found in 1926 in the muck of Fisheating Creek west of Lake Okee-
chobee (Anonymous, 1933). This totem is now at the Florida State Museum
where the head of the eagle was reconstructed (Fig. 5, left).
Comparison of these two totems shows marked differences (Fig. 5). The
eagle is about 2 feet in height (about 5 feet including the pole). The square
pole on which it is standing is 5 inches on a side. Due to the present con-
dition of the surface, it is impossible to tell whether or not it was decorated
with incisions. It was made from heart wood of the southern yellow pine
(probably Pinus elliothi, variety densa).
The owl totem pole found beside the Thursby Midden is unique both
from the standpoint of style and of size. From these viewpoints it differs
significantly from the eagle totem from Fisheating Creek, the only other
known Florida example extant. It also differs considerably from Indian poles
of Florida and Virginia painted by Le Moyne or by White, and engraved by
De Bry (Lorant, 1946, pp. 67, 105, 107, 260-61, and 265; see also Swanton,
1946, Pls. 78, 81, and 93). These poles are round in cross section and small
in diameter (circa 8 inches). Deer, men's legs, or scalps are mounted on top
of the Florida poles. Carved human heads adorn the tops of the Virginia
poles. All of these poles are different in design, form, and function from
Fig. 5. Eagle totem and owl totem poles.
(Approximately same scale.)
the one under discussion.
The shipwrecked Quaker, Dickinson, in his account of his journey north
along the Atlantic coast of Florida to St. Augustine mentions an Indian dance.
For this dance an old man took "a staff about eight feet long, having a broad
arrow on the head thereof, and thence half way painted red and white like
unto a barber's pole; in the middle.of the staff is fixed a piece of wood shaped
like unto thigh, leg and foot of a man, and the lower part thereof is painted
black, and this staff being carried out of the Casseekey's house, is set fast
in the ground standing upright" (Andrews, 1945, p. 59). This description is
reasonably similar to the poles illustrated by Le Moyne (Lorant, 1946, p. 67)
but not similar to the owl totem pole.
Another reference to a somewhat similar carving is to be found in the
Gentleman of Elvas' account of the De Soto expedition. He writes of the
town of Ucita that "at the other end of the town was a temple on the top of
which perched a wooden fowl with gilded eyes" (Lewis, 1907, p. 147). Lack
of details do not permit of much comparison but certainly a free standing
totem like the one from the Thursby Midden is not implied. However, the
wooden "fowl" is reminiscent of the owl and the eagle from Fisheating
Carved birds on houses (mortuary houses or temples) similar to the one
reported for Ucita are mentioned by Swanton for the Choctaw, at Taensa, and
for the Natchez (Swanton, 1946, p. 613). Birds included are the dove, eagle,
and a composite bird representation. These, like the one at Ucita, do not
seem to be free standing. It is evident that wooden carvings of birds were
not too uncommon in the southeastern United States at the time of the coming
of the first whites. Close similarity with the owl totem may, however, be
Small birds or animals, incised or painted on wood, and wooden masks
were found at Key Marco by Cushing (1897, Pls. 33-35). Various fragments
of wooden bird representations are reported for the Belle Glade site by Willey
(1949, pp. 53-57). The only similarity to the owl totem seems to be in the
treatment of the eyes.
From some of the pottery found at the Thursby Midden, it is evident it
was occupied during the Orange (fiber-tempered) period (around 1,000 B.C.).
Due to the great length of time since that occupation and the lack of any
carved or modeled object from the Orange period remotely suggesting a "bird,"
it seems reasonable to eliminate that period as the one to which the owl totem
This leaves as possible periods for the manufacture of the owl totem the
St. Johns IIa, St. Johns lib, and St. Johns HIc periods. The first of these is
correlated with the Weeden Island II period of the Gulf Coast and the second
with the Ft. Walton and Safety Harbor periods of that area. The third merely
indicates the addition of European material or the continuation of the St.
Johns lib culture into historic times, after which it is designated St. Johns
Birds, particularly ducks, are relatively important as an art form during
the Weeden Island period. Of such representations, only a few made of clay
appear to be those of owls (Moore, 1902, Figs. 110, 265, 294, 298; Sears, 1953,
Pls. XII, XV, and XVIII). Incising, when present on these effigies, is clearly
in the Weeden Island tradition and not stylistically similar to incision on the
owl totem pole. Hence, it would seem incorrect to correlate the owl totem
with St. Johns IIa times.
This leaves the St. Johns IIb and He periods during which the owl totem
pole may have been built.
The unique, shell-marked, casuela-shaped vessel certainly belongs to
one of these two periods. While not positively associated with the totem
pole, the location from which it came suggests the possibility there might be
a connection. Dickinson, in his account of the ceremonial dance he saw,
wrote that six rattles from a basket were put at the foot of the staff or pole
(Andrews, 1946, pp. 59-60). De Bry's pictures of Timucuan worship of
Ribaut's column show baskets of fruit and other offerings at the base of the
column (Lorant, 1946, p. 51). Adair is quoted as writing of a Creek town:
"There is a carved human statue of wood, to which, however, they pay no
religious homage... when their cusseena, or bitter, black drink is about to
be drank in the synhedrion, they frequently, on common occasions, will bring
it there, and honour it with the first conch-shell-full, by the hand of the chief
religious attendant...." (Swanton, 1946, p. 616).
These accounts suggest the possibility that the casuela-shaped vessel
may have had a ceremonial connection with the owl totem pole. Slight support
for this possibility lies in the facts that the vessel appears never to have
been used for cooking and that it appears to be unique for the area.
There is a marked similarity in the artistic treatment of the eyes of the
owl totem, the eyes of wooden bird heads from the Belle Glade site (Willey,
1949, p. 55), and the eyes of both animal and bird representations from Key
Marco (Cushing, 1896, P1. 34). All of these things are relatively late, prob-
ably late pre-Columbian in date.
Due to the lack of metal tool marks on the owl totem, it undoubtedly was
made before such tools were available. It was probably made during the St.
Johns IIb period or between 1400 and 1500 A.D. Lack of descriptions of close-
ly similar totem poles by early explorers supports a pre-1500 A.D. date.
The function this owl totem pole fulfilled in the culture of the Indians liv-
ing at the Thursby Midden cannot be definitely determined. Swanton has one
reference which indicates owls were of some possible special significance.
He writes: "An owl skin was often carried by the Creek medicine man or priest
as a symbol of his calling" (Swanton, 1946, p. 252). It is difficult to carry
this idea usefully over to the Thursby Midden unless it was the totem of a
priest or medicine man living there. If so, he must have been a very famous
There seem to be three possible functions for the owl totem pole. One
was that it stood near a charnel house as a protecting or guardian spirit. This
does not agree with the ethnological data where such animal representations
are referred to as on the house, on the roof, or inside the temple. Nor does
the size of the totem pole permit of its being brought out and set up in the
ground for ceremonies as described by Dickinson. It is so big it would have
to have had a permanent installation.
The author favors a third explanation. Among the southeastern Indians,
descent was usually traced through the woman and clans were rather com-
mon. Swanton says there was a great profusion of totemic clans among the
Creeks and Timucua. For the Timucua he lists bear, bird, buzzard, deer,
dog, fish, fox, panther, and rabbit clans (Swanton, 1946, pp. 654-60). Thurs-
by Midden may have been the residence or town of the Owl Clan. The inhabit-
ants may have put the owl totem pole beside the river so that all who passed
by might know this was the place of the Owl Clan. No doubt many similar
poles were erected at many other villages. Let us hope that more will be
We are indebted to Mr. A. B. Peterson, Jr., of Sanford, and to Mr. Sidney
Stubbs, of Lake Beresford, for bringing the owl totem pole to our attention.
Science is indebted to Mr. Victor Roepke for generously loaning the owl totem
pole to the Florida State Museum for preservation, study, and exhibit.
Andrews, Evangeline W. and Charles McL. (eds.)
1945. Jonathan Dickinson's Journal. Yale University Press. New Haven.
1933. "Totem Pole from Florida." Scientific American, Vol. 148, pp.
292-93. New York.
Cushing, Frank H.
1897. "Exploration of Ancient Key Dwellers' Remains on the Gulf Coast
of Florida." Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society,
Vol. 34, No. 153, pp. 329-432. Philadelphia.
Goggin, John M.
1952. "Space and Time Perspective in Northern St. Johns Archeology,
Florida." Yale University Publications in Anthropology, No. 47.
Lewis, Theodore H.
1907. "The Narrative of the Expedition of Hernando de Soto by the
Gentleman of Elvas." Spanish Explorers in the Southern United
States, 1528-1543 (J. Franklin Jameson, ed.). Charles Scribners'
Sons. New York.
1946. The New World. Duell, Sloan & Pearce. New York.
Moore, Clarence B.
1894. "Certain Sand Mounds of the St. John's River, Florida." Journal
of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, second series,
Vol. X, pp. 5-103, 129-246. Philadelphia.
1902. "Certain Aboriginal Remains of the Northwest Florida Coast."
Journal of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, sec-
ond series, Vol. XII, pp. 127-355. Philadelphia.
Sears, William H.
1953. "Excavations of Kolomoki, Season III and IV." University of
Georgia Series in Anthropology, No. 4. Athens.
Swanton, John R.
1946. "The Indians of the Southeastern United States." Bureau of
American Ethnology, Bulletin 137. Washington.
Willey, Gordon R.
1949. "Excavations in Southeastern Florida." Yale University Publica-
tions in Anthropology, No. 42. New Haven.
FLORIDA STATE MUSEUM
UNUSUAL FIGURINE FROM THE GEORGIA COAST*
Lewis H. Larson, Jr.
PINE HARBOR SITE
About one mile east and north of Pine Harbor in McIntosh County, Georgia,
is an extensive aboriginal site made up of several hundred small, shell refuse
mounds. The site has been designated 9McI64 in the Laboratory of Anthro-
pology files, University of Georgia. The Pine Harbor site lies on high ground
bordering a marsh, which in turn forms the northern bank of the Sapelo River,
a tidal salt stream.
In the past two years many of the refuse mounds at the site have been
destroyed to level the area for a real estate development and to obtain shell
for the construction of a dock causeway. The author has made periodic visits
to the site as this work has progressed in order to make sherd collections and
to examine those mounds being destroyed.
The ceramic complex at the site is homogeneous, and all the evidence
points to a single occupation. The ceramic types from the site include Irene
Filfot Stamped, Irene Incised, Irene Plain (Caldwell and McCann, 1941, pp.
46-49), and McIntosh Incised (Larson, n.d.). With the exception of the last
named type, the others are diagnostic of the Irene ceramic period as defined
by Caldwell and McCann at the Irene site, near Savannah, Georgia. The pres-
ence of the McIntosh Incised type in unquestioned association with Irene types
distinguishes the ceramic complex at the Pine Harbor site from that at Irene.
Moore illustrates several examples of McIntosh Incised which he found in the
area of Pine Harbor (Moore, 1897, P1. XVI; see also Holmes, 1903, Pls. CXIX
No Spanish ceramics were found at the Pine Harbor site. Thus the mate-
rial temporarily belongs to the period immediately preceding the intensive
*This paper is a partial result of an archaeological survey carried out by the
Georgia Historical Commission in 1952 and 1953.
Fig. 1. Front view of clay figurine from Pine Harbor site
Spanish occupation of the coastal area, which would place it pre-1597. Cul-
turally the site has affinities to the generalized Lamar horizon tobe found in
Moore reports a number of sites from the coastal area of McIntosh County
which belong to the same period as the Pine Harbor site. They include: Mound
B at Lawton's Field, the Townsend Mound, Walker Mound, the mound at the
north end of Creighton Island, and Bourbon and Dumoussay's Field on Sapelo
Island (Moore, 1897, pp. 15-20, 20-23, 28-43, 45-53, 55-66, and 67-71).
I I I I 1 1 .'I 112
Fig. 2. Rear view of clay figurine from Pine Harbor site
DESCRIPTION OF FIGURINE
During one of several visits to the Pine Harbor site, the author found an
unusual clay figurine (Figs. 1-2) in the ruins of a shell heap. Actually a
second figurine has been found as a result of excavations undertaken by the
author for the Georgia Historical Commission at the Pine Harbor site. This
second figurine is identical in all respects to the surface find except that it
is smaller and less complete. The second figurine establishes definitely the
association of these figurines and the Pine Harbor ceramic complex.
The first figurine (Figs. 1-2), though incomplete, measures 3.5 inches in
length and 2.5 inches in width at its greatest breadth; it has a maximum thick-
ness of 7/8 inch. It is made of clay with a fine sandy paste and is well
fired. Before the incised decoration was applied, the clay had been carefully
smoothed but not polished. The figurine was made by using a roll of clay and
shaping the figure from the roll.
The complete piece was apparently a figurine representing an "Eagle
Warrior" of the type found on the Etowah copper plates (Moorehead, 1932,
Figs. 12-15) and on the shell gorgets from the Tennessee area. The head of
the figurine, along with the lower extremities, are broken off and missing.
The shoulders expand into small wing-like protuberances on either side of
The surface of the artifact is covered with a sharp, fine incising, which
must have been applied while the clay was still damp, i.e. leather dry. At
the shoulders are incised feathers running across the chest. Over them an
object of dress falls from the chin to the waist. The shoulder feathers hang
vertically and run out to the edge of the wings.
At the waist is a belt that appears to be made of large beads. Hanging
below the belt is a knotted breechclout. Large incised feathers run diagonally
from the front to the back of the figurine. These feathers begin from beneath
the shoulder feathers and occur singly one below the other down the entire
length of the torso on both sides (Fig. 2). Around the neck of the figurine is
suspended a decorated circular object which is most certainly a shell gorget
The decoration of the gorget consists of a concentric line around the
edge of the gorget forming a plain border. Inside this border is a face consist-
ing of two forked-eyes and a mouth with ray-like lines running from the lower
lip to the edge of the border. Teeth are indicated in the mouth by crisscross
patterns of lines. It is interesting to note the shell gorget represented here
on the chest of the figure, whereas almost without exception the eagle war-
riors on copper and shell are shown with a conch shell columella pendant.
The back of the figurine (Fig.2) is not as elaborately decorated as is the
front. The tips of the large feathers meet across the back down most of its
length. The upper edges of the wings are decorated with a curious epaulet-
like effect representing the shorter wing feathers. Hanging upside down from
the shoulders in the middle of the back, apparently by a necklace, is an in-
cised eagle's head. One gets the impression that this eagle head is a mask
or headdress of some sort which has been pushed back off of the broken head
of the figurine (Figs. 2-3). The head is shown with a conventionalized crest.
The beak is wide open, and issuing from the mouth is a long undulating tongue
Fig. 3. Expanded drawing of the incising on the figurine.
or "speech scroll." 'The eye is shown by a very elaborate weeping eye with a
double series of forked terminations.
Other figurines of this nature are known to have been found in the McIntosh
County area. Moore found an undecorated female figurine on Creighton Island
(Moore, 1897, p. 43). He also reports a figurine from Cedar Creek near the
Pine Harbor site, which "... tapered gracefully at the waist and bore incised
ornamentation front and back" (ibid.).
The last figurine, particularly, sounds very much like the Pine Harbor
artifact. In addition, the author has found fragments of a small dipper-like
object of the same paste, method of manufacture, and decorative technique
as the figurine under discussion here. Portions of the decoration on the dip-
per could be identified as the eagle motif found on the figurine.
The Pine Harbor piece most certainly belongs to paraphernalia classified
as part of the Southern Ceremonial Complex (Waring and Holder, 1945). Para-
phernalia of the complex was encountered by Moore at a number of sites in the
area (Moore, 1897). It includes such familiar items as engraved rattlesnake
shell gorgets, stone and copper ceremonial celts, and pottery with design
elements belonging to the complex. The figurine, nevertheless, suggests a
local development out of the more generalized late Southeastern ceremonial
Caldwell, Joseph, and Catherine McCann
1941. Irene Mound Site, Chatham County, Georgia. University of Georgia
Holmes, W. H.
1903. "Aboriginal Pottery of the Eastern United States." Twentieth
Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, 1898-99,
pp. 1-201. Washington.
Larson, Lewis H., Jr.
n.d. Unpublished manuscript in files of the Georgia Historical Commis-
Moore, Clarence B.
1897. "Certain Aboriginal Mounds of the Georgia Coast." Journal of the
Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, second series, Vol.
XI, Pt. 1, pp. 4-138. Philadelphia.
Moorehead, Warren King
1932. Etowah Papers. Yale University Press. New Haven.
Waring, Antonio J., Jr., and Preston Holder
1945. "A Prehistoric Ceremonial Complex in the Southeastern United
States." American Anthropologist, Vol. 47, No. 1, pp. 1-34.
LABORATORY OF ANTHROPOLOGY
THE CALUMET CEREMONY OF THE SEMINOLE INDIANS
Wilfred T. Neill
A calumet is sometimes defined as a tobacco pipe with an elaborately
ornamented stem, smoked during certain Indian ceremonies. Actually, the stem
of the pipe, rather than the bowl, was the true calumet, holding deep religious
significance for the Indians. It was detachable andgenerally decorated with
the wings, heads, and feathers of birds, as well as bits of fur, wisps of hair,
and other symbolic items. This ornamented stem was not employed merely for
ritual smoking; by itself, it was often displayed at gatherings, taken into battle
like a standard, or carried by an ambassador as a token of good will. Calumets
were generally employed in pairs, their use being attended by a chant and a
dance. Each calumet was accompanied by a rattle (Hewitt, 1907).
It is desirable to distinguish between the calumet, or bedecked stem, and
the calumet pipe of which it was sometimes a part. The calumet pipe was
smoked in ritual fashion at various important Indian gatherings, being passed
from hand to hand about a circle of assembled braves and leaders. It was
most frequently smoked to cement a pact of friendship, and so is often called
The calumet ceremony was most elaborately developed among the tribes
of the upper Mississippi and upper Missouri drainages. From this area it
spread southward, reaching the mouth of the Mississippi in post-De Soto times.
It turned thence eastward, reaching the Cherokee, Choctaw, and Creek in an
attenuated form (Swanton in Harper, ed., 1942, p. 77).
The calumet ceremony of the Seminole does not appear to be well known.
Hewitt (op. cit.) did not include the Seminole among the tribes performing such
a ceremony. Sturtevant (1954, p. 302) remarked that J. R. Motte, in his Semi-
nole War diary, "seems to refer to a calumet ceremony if so, it is the only
such record for the Seminole." Accounts of Seminole customs rarely mention
the calumet. Actually, there are several references to this device among the
Seminole in the literature. These may be taken up in chronological order.
In November, 1765, John Bartram attended the Indian congress at Pico-
lata, on the St. Johns River. His remarks (spelling and punctuation corrected)
were as follows: "This day the Indians and governor met to sign the treaty.,
A great number or all of the chiefs set their mark to two deeds.... The Indian
chiefs ... had each a fine silver medal ... hung in a fine silk ribbon ..., which
the governor hung about each chief's neck.... Then the governor and superin-
tendent ... shaked hands with them all, but before the delivery of the medals,
smoked in the pipe of friendship" (Harper, ed., op. cit., p. 35).
Swanton (op. cit.) remarked that the calumet ceremony at Picolata is the
easternmost known, and was considerably attenuated. Fortunately, there is a
more detailed account of this ceremony, revealing that it was not so attenuated
as J. Bartram's brief comments would imply. The council minutes (1765, p. 33)
of the Picolata congress relate that the gathering was held in a pavilion of pine
branches. The Indian chiefs assembled in front of the pavilion in a column of
sixes, flanked by two chiefs on one side carrying dressed buckskins and by two
on the other carrying rattle boxes and pipes dressed with eagle feathers. They
marched forward with some dancing, singing, and shouting but halted within
fifty paces of the pavilion. The two chiefs with the pipes then came forward
in a dance, stroked the white men's beards and heads with the eagle feathers
on the pipe stems, and then retired. The Indians next entered the pavilion,
shook hands all around, and took their seats. The pipe of peace was then
smoked by all, after which speechmaking began.
In short, at Picolata the decorated pipe stems, true calumets, were em-
ployed in ritual fashion. They were used in pairs. Each was hung with eagle
feathers and was accompanied by a rattle. There was a chant, a dance, and the
smoking of the peace pipe. Obviously this was a calumet ceremony in full
detail, strikingly like that of the Plains tribes. It is now important to identify
the Indians who were present at the council.
The Indians attending the congress were called "Creeks" by J. Bartram,
and "Seminolshees" by De Brahm (MS). They were from the Seminole towns
west of the St. Johns River and the "Lower Creek" (one might say proto-Semi-
nole) towns in the northwest corner of British East Florida. The head chiefs
present, according to the council minutes, included Sempoyaffe (Seepycoffee,
Secoffee, etc.), often called the founder of the Seminole nation; Tallachea,
probably of the Talasee band on the Chattahoochee; Captain Aleck, of the
Lower Creek; Wioffke, possibly of Wiogufki; Chayhage, who, if the same as
Kenhagee (Kinheizee, Kinhega, etc.), was chief of the St. Johns River Semi-
nole; Estime (a Muskogee name); and Latchige (Latchaway, Alachua?). Cow-
keeper, chief of the Cuscowilla Seminole town, had been invited but could not
attend on account of illness.
A calumet ceremony, like that held by the Seminole and Lower Creek at
Picolata, must have been widespread in the Southeast at this period, for Adair
(1775, pp. 167-169) described a very similar ritual customarily employed when
two Southeastern tribes made peace with each other.
William Bartram (1792, pp. 149-150) called the Creek and Seminole calu-
met stem a "royal standard." According to him, the Creek name for it meant
"the eagle's tail." It was "constructed and ornamented with great ingenuity."
When carried into battle, a red zone was painted on the tips of the feathers,
but "in peaceable negotiations it is displayed new, clean, and white." It was
"held most sacred by the Indians on all occasions." Elsewhere, W. Bartram
(op. cit., pp. 452-454), in describing religious paraphernalia of the Atasi
Creek town, mentioned "the calumet or great pipe of peace, the imperial stan-
dard, or eagle's tail, which is made of the feathers of the white eagle's tail
(Vultur sacra) curiously formed and displayed like an open fan on a sceptre or
staff, as white and clean as possible when displayed for peace, but when for
war, the feathers are painted or tinged with vermillion." Swanton (1928a,
p. 435) observed that W. Bartram's "royal standard" of the Creek and Semi-
nole "can only have been the calumet, which was often detached from the
pipe and borne about separately."
When W. Bartram (op. cit., pp. 233-235) arrived at the Seminole town of
Talahasochte on the Suwannee River, in 1774, "the royal standard was dis-
played." A feast was held, after which the head men, warriors, and visitors
assembled in the council house. Next, "tobacco and pipes were brought; the
calumet was lighted and smoked, circulating according to the usual forms and
ceremony..." Swanton (1928b, p. 538) again commented, "By the 'royal stan-
dard' Bartram means nothing more than the feathered calumet."
W. Bartram, in his report to Dr. John Fothergill (Harper, ed., 1943, pp.
157-158), likewise remarked on his visit to Talahasochte. The day of his
arrival, the old Seminole chief and his men "came to us to smoke in the Pipe
with us." The feast was held the next day; afterwards, "...the men pass the
pipe about the ring, and discourse of more serious affairs with the greatest
gravity and decorum."
Later in 1774, W. Bartram encountered a band of Seminole in the country
between present-day Old Town and Chiefland. The Indians were in full war
panoply, but their hostilities were not directed toward Bartram. Consequently,
after an exchange of greetings, they all sat down and began "passing the pipe
about." This account may relate to a calumet or merely to ritual smoking of
a peace pipe.
On February 24, 1838, Jacob Rhett Motte attended a conference between
General Thomas S. Jesup and the Seminole leaders, Tuskegee and Halleck
Hadjo. The two Indians were in ceremonial dress. They and their adherents
performed a "peace dance." There was some clasping of elbows (the Semi-
nole equivalent of a handshake), and the Indians touched the white men on
the head with a "white feather" bound to a stick. A council ring was formed,
and, "all having taken seats, the calamut [sic] was smoked" (Sunderman, ed.,
1953, p. 209).
About this time, the Seminole calumet ceremony disappears or becomes
modified out of recognition. We do learn that Billy Bowlegs, the Mikasuki
leader, in 1849 presented a "white flag of truce made of white feathers" to
Anthony Breath during a "grand council" at Charlotte Harbor (Breath, 1849,
in Goggin, 1951, p. 15). It is tempting to speculate that the calumet of the
eighteenth-century Seminole, an ornamented pipe stem with a fan-like arrange-
ment of feathers, eventually became a mere stick with a fan-shaped bundle of
feathers attached to it. If so, the trend toward simplification has proceeded
even further; for the present-day Seminole utilize four white feathers, bound
together fanwise, as a peace symbol or good will token. In 1954 a group of
Mikasuki Seminole who visited Washington, D.C., on important tribal business
took such a plume bundle for formal presentation to government officials.
The Feather Dance of the present-day Seminole (described by Capron,
1953, pp. 193-195) and of the Creek (see Swanton, 1928b, p. 609) contains
several elements reminiscent of a calumet ceremony. However, more must be
learned about the function of this unusual dance before one could suggest that
it had been affected by calumet ritual.
There are several additional references to the "passing of the peace
pipe" among the nineteenth-century Seminole, but these are not cited here for
they may not have involved a calumet. It might be worthwhile, however, to
suggest that ritual smoking still exists among the Seminole. In this connec-
tion, Mr. Morton Silver, attorney for the Mikasuki Seminole in their recent
land claims, supplied some interesting information. Mr. Silver attended some
important Seminole councils in the Everglades and observed items of material
culture which are usually kept hidden from white men. Sam Jones, elderly
medicine man of the Cow Creek Seminole, brought to one of these councils a
pipe with a detachable stem and a bowl of some stone-like material. The
stem was in three sections, which could be fitted together, and was decorated.
The whole pipe assembly was kept in a pouch, and Mr. Silver was not per-
mitted to examine it closely.
In summary: a well-developed calumet ceremony, much like that of the
Plains tribes in its basic features, existed among the Seminole and other
Indians of the Southeast during the latter eighteenth century. It persisted
among the Seminole, in modified but recognizable form, well into the nine-
teenth century. Apparently, calumet ritual and paraphernalia became progres-
sively simpler thereafter but perhaps did not vanish entirely; the plume bundle
of the present-day Seminole may be derived from the vastly more elaborate
calumet. However, much further study must be given to the practices of the
modern Seminole before one can determine the course taken by the calumet
ritual after the Seminole Wars.
1775. The History of the American Indians. London.
1792. Travels through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West
Florida, the Cherokee Country, etc. London.
1849. "Letter to Jim Breath, Oct. 29, 1849." In Goggin, 1951, p. 15.
1953. "The Medicine Bundles of the Florida Seminole and the Green
Corn Dance." Bureau of American Ethnology, Anthropological
Papers, No. 35. Washington.
1765. "Minutes of the Indian congress at Picolata, Oct. 22, 1765,"
C. O. 5/570, p. 33. (Not seen; summarized by Mowat, 1943,
De Brahm, John G. W.
MS. "Report on East Florida," chap. 4, par. 22. Manuscript in the
Widener Library, Harvard University. Cambridge.
Goggin, John M.
1951. "Beaded Shoulder Pouches of the Florida Seminole." The
Florida Anthropologist, Vol. IV, Nos. 1-2, pp. 2-17. Gainesville.
Harper, Francis (ed.)
1942. "Diary of a Journey through the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida
from July 1, 1765, to April 10, 1766," by John Bartram. Trans-
actions of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 33, Pt. 1,
pp. 1-120. Philadelphia.
1943. "Travels in Georgia and Florida, 1773-4, a Report to Dr. John
Fothergill," by William Bartram. Transactions of the American
Philosophical Society, Vol. 33, Pt. 2, pp. 121-242. Philadelphia.
Hewitt, J. N. B.
1907. "Calumet." In "Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico,"
(F. W. Hodge, ed.). Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 30,
Pt. 1, pp. 191-195. Washington.
Mowat, Charles L.
1943. "East Florida as a British Province, 1763-1784." University of
California Publications in History, Vol. 32. Berkeley.
Sturtevant, William C.
1954. Review of Journey into Wilderness, etc., by Jacob R. Motte (James
F. Sunderman, ed.). Florida Historical Quarterly, Vol. 32, No. 4,
pp. 300-304. Gainesville.
Sunderman, James F. (ed.)
1953. Journey into Wilderness; An Army Surgeon's Account of Life in
Camp and Field during the Creek and Seminole Wars, 1836-1838
(Diary of Jacob Rhett Motte). Gainesville.
Swanton, John R.
1928a. "Social Organization and Social Usages of the Indians of the Creek
Confederacy." Forty-second Annual Report of the Bureau of Amer-
ican Ethnology, 1924-1925, pp. 23-472. Washington.
1928b. "Religious Beliefs and Medical Practices of the Creek Indians."
Forty-second Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology,
1924-1925, pp. 473-672. Washington.
1942. Remark on the Calumet Ceremony. In Harper, ed., 1942, p. 77.
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