Native American Totems

Discovering the medicine and lessons learned from the spirits of animals and all living things.

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We might be able to give some credit to the Adena civilization for at least advancing the use of totems in Native American culture. This civilization is believed to have lived in what is now the United States from about 1000 to 200 BC. At one time it was considered that they were prominent in areas of Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky and a small part of Pennsylvania and New York. However, an archaeological dig in Pig Point, Maryland is finding some evidence that at least a community of Adena peoples lived for awhile in the part of Maryland where the Patuxent River converges with its western branch. They have found items that would have belonged to Adena people. It could be that they were traded as the Adena had quite large trading network. However, there are pipes that would have been considered special that were found in trash areas…not something that another people would have thrown away.

The Adena preceded the Hopewell civilization in pre-historic America and some believe that the Hopewell embraced the teachings and traditions of the Adena and then advanced them even further. I am getting ahead of myself, though. The Adena are known for the burial mounds  and other mounds that appear to have had a ritualistic purpose. However, this civilization is also known for its artistic works, pottery making, and agricultural practices.

advanced civilizations
Advanced Civilizations of Prehistoric America: The Lost Kingdoms of the Adena, Hopewell, Mississippians, and Anasazi

There are specific motifs that the Adena created in their works that were continued by the Native American traditions that came after them. They started using the cross, circles, and weeping eye that we still see in Native American art today. The connection that I thought was interesting was the art that was created showing humans turning into an animal and then back again. I wonder if this was a way to show what your totem was by having a piece of this animal art on your person. It is typically practiced that way now showing that the animals spirit is with you. It would appear that the Adena might have at least started showing the totem connection in their artful jewelry.

I think that it is exciting that they are finding evidence that the Adena along with other civilizations have inhabited more land than originally was thought by scientists. The Adena were so advanced for the time that they lived here on earth that their society actually had skilled tradespeople who crafted items for the communities use and also items that could be traded with other peoples who lived in other areas. Far from the primitive way that so many people think of pre-historic people to have been.

~Mitakuye Oyasin~ We are all related

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