The mid-twentieth century Pennsylvania historical marker in Monongahela City’s Memorial Park for Indian mounds Adena people raised over some of their dead is evidence that a generation which came of age during the first world war, survived an influenza pandemic, the Great Depression, and a second world war felt connected to the local culture two millennia earlier.  The state marker’s text mentions the late-nineteenth excavation of the largest mound, the Crall Mound, recreated in an archaeological exhibit and contextualized on a granite historical marker.


PA historical marker and its elaboration

Regional Native American History marker

Regional Native American History

     Cultures are a product of history. The Fa-

ther of American Ethnology, Albert Gallatin,

led a meeting of whiskey rebels near here.

James Adovasio stresses distinct populations in

the sixteen thousand years of regional human

activity his team uncovered in Meadowcroft

Rockshelter, Paleo, Archaic, and Woodland to

historical Native Americans.

      Our region, 32 counties in four states, was

established by the Monongahela culture (A. D.

1000 to 1635), with a local geographical center.

     Mound building during Adena (800 B.C. to

A.D. 1) and Hopewell (100 B.C. to A.D. 500)

times was centered near Chillicothe, Ohio.

Chillicothe remained central for Fort Ancient

(A.D. 1000 to 1650) builders of the misnamed

Serpent Mound (a fertility effigy), the Shawnee,

and the selectors of Ohio’s first state capital.

      Don Dragoo in Mounds for the Dead notes

basic cultural continuity for the Adena along

with increasing Central American influences in

the Adena, Hopewell, and Mississippians.

       Nineteenth century excavators measured

Moundsville, West Virginia’s late Adena Grave

Creek Mound at 69 feet, McKees Rocks Mound

at 16 feet, and the region’s third largest Crall

Mound at nine feet high by 60 feet in diameter.

      The early to mid-Adena Crall Mound exhibit

features three of the burials found when a six-

foot-wide trench 35 feet long was dug from the

east circa 1886. The profiled central pit burial

held no artifacts, but the ritually killed tube

pipe fragment and folded over copper gorget

found with the other two burials are repro-

duced, evidence of the importance of trade in

materials and ceremonies.

      Some of the earliest North American

mounds are found near Point Pleasant, Louisi-

ana, a practice that culminates with the Missis-

sipians (A.D. 800 to 1600), whose stratified

culture reached as far as Florida from its

Metropolis, Cahokia, Illinois.

     Adena and Hopewell wealth stemmed from

proximity to the Flint Ridge quarries and the

associated trade routes that developed in

central Ohio, near the spectacular Newark

earthworks of the Hopewell.

      Trade networks brought Mesoamerican

plants, cosmology, art, and horrific class dis-

tinctions, such as cranial deformation among

the elite still practiced by the Pacific Northwest

tribes Lewis and Clark met and trophy skulls.

      A Rhode Island Indian told Roger Williams

their religion came from the southwest along

with corn and beans. While Northeast Indians,

including those locally, played the chunkey

game and adopted bows and arrows, they re-

mained egalitarian.

      The central McKees Rocks burial was an

adult Adena woman with numerous grave offer-

ings. Several mounds, some of stone, near

the Crall Mound were destroyed. An Indian ceme-

tery on a farm four to five miles west above Pi-

geon Creek had over a hundred shallow, flag-

stone-covered graves, nearly all of infants and

children. Finleyville’s George S. Fisher spent a

lifetime in digging regional sites.

      Monongahela mysteries remain, their DNA

and possible descendants’ unanalyzed. In 1890

Cyrus Thomas posited a Cherokee descent, a

claim of many local residents today. Omaha

and related tribes are likely Monongahelans.

Early records call this region part of Ohio

Country, with Adena boundaries containing Ir-

oquois, Delaware, Shawnee, Wyandot, Miami,

and many other Native Americans. It still does.

     These migrants added to and adopted the

local regional culture, as many would later.

From 1745 onward, wars between France and

England, England and the United States, and

the United States and its indigenous people

were local, tragic, and unnecessary from a post-

colonial perspective. As Chief Scarouady said,

we spring from the same ground.

Placed March, 2018 by Rostraver Township Historical Society

Cultural continuity in the Americas, a subtext close to the surface in the above text, has not been widely studied or considered, yet its efficacy in explaining regional differences is fundamental.  Just as Native American history is the basis and yardstick for interpreting what happened in the past throughout the hemisphere, indigenous cultures bubble up from the lower classes and eventually overwhelm Eurocentric, African, and Asian folkways