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Visions in Stone

Visions in Stone

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Published by Rob Furnald

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Published by: Rob Furnald on Dec 26, 2010
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VISIONSINSTONE:THEROCKARTOFMINNESOTA
Mark
J.
Dudzik
Todate,only
55
prehistorictoprotohistoricAmericanIndianrockartsiteshavebeenidentifiedinthestateandmanyofthese,sincedestroyed,werefirs!identifiedattheturnofthecentury.ReportedrockartsitesinMinnesotaincludepetroglyphsandpictographsappearingonexposedoutcropsorincaves,aswellasopen-airpetroforms.Minnesota'saboriginalrockartappearstohavebeenproducedfromArchaicthroughProtohistorictimesandwasprobablyproducedinPaleoindiantimesaswell.TheiconographyofrockarthasauniquepotentialtoyieldinsightsintothecharacterandevolutionofprehistoricandprotohistoricAmericanIndianideation,subsistencepractices,technology,aestheticsandotherculturalelementswhicharedifficultorimpossibletoelucidatebyothermeans.Statewide,thesegenerallyunprotectedsitesareincreasinglyvulnerabletodestructionasaconsequenceofvandalism,naturalprocesses,andconstruction.Atthesametime,thepotentialforidentifyingnumerousother,unrecordedrockartsitesinthestateremainsquitehigh.
A
mericanIndianrockart,ascommonJydefined,includesbothpetroglyphicandpictographiciconography.Petroglyphsareproducedbyincising,abrading,peckingorotherwisecarvingdesignsorfiguresintonon-portablerocksurfacessuchasrockoutcrops,blufffaces,rockshelters,andcaves.Pictographicimagesareproducedbyapplyingnaturalpigmentstosuchsurfacesbypainting,drawing,orothermeans.Pictographsandpetroglyphsmayexistasisolateddesignsoraslarge,complexpanels,andmayco-occur.Forpurposesofthispaper,thedefinitionofrockartisextendedtoincludepetroforms,thatis,boulderorstoneoutlineswhichhavebeenconfigureddirectlyonthegroundsurfacetoresembleavarietyofanthropomorphic,zoomorphicorgeometricforms;petroformsdonotincludetipirings,drivelines,orothersuchrockalignments.Thedistributionofeachofthesetypesisratherlimitedtospecificareasofthestate,withpictographsfoundalmostexclusivelyinthenortheasternpartofthestate,petroglyphslargelylimitedtothesouth,andpetrofonnsrecognizedonlyinsouthwestemmost
Minnesota,
Unfortunately,Minnesotahasnotbenefittedfromanintensivesurveyandinventoryofrockartsites,standardizeddescriptionofidentifiedsites,or,withfewexceptions,evencursorystylisticanalysisofthefiguresassociatedwithindividualsites.Comparativeanalysisofdesignsandfiguresoccurringatdifferentsitesis
virtually
non-existent.Thefunctionandmeaningofrockartthusremainsessentiallyunknown;speculationastofunctionandmeaning,nonetheless,abounds.WhatlimitedanalysisdoesexistsuggeststhattheproductionofrockartinMinnesotaspanstheperiodfrom(atleast)ArchaicthroughProtohistoric
times,
PetroglyphsatthelefferssiteclearlydepictatlatlsandtangedprojectilepointsindicativeofglyphmanufactureasearlyastheArchaicperiod,datingthissiteasoneoftheoldestrock
art
sitesinMinnesota.
It
maywellbethattheappearanceofpictographicrockartinMinnesotaisamorerecentphenomenonthanthatofpetroglyphs.Rajnovich(1994)citesevidencesuggestingthattheproductionofpictographsinneighboringareasofCanadadatesasfarbackas2000yearsB.P.andreportsinstancesofrockpaintingintheregionoccurringaslateas1905.Salzer(1987a)hasproposedthatpictographicrockartinWisconsinpost-datesA.D.900.Petroforms,themostephemeralandpoorlydocumentedofrockarttypes,mayalsobethemostrecentlydevelopedformofrockart,productsofWoodland,ProtohistoricandEarlyHistoricmanufacture(Kehoe1976;Steinbring1990).
It
isnotpossibleatthistimetodefinitivelyassociateMinnesota'srockartwithspecific,contemporaryIndianpeoples.
HistoryofMinnesotaRockArtStudies
AlthoughexplorerssuchasSchoolcraft(1966)andNicollet(Bray1970)recordedcasualobservationsdescribingrockartencounteredduringthecourseoftheirtravelsthroughthestate,thehistoryofrockartstudiesinMinnesotareallybeginswiththepioneeringworkofA.
1.
Hill,T.
H.
LewisandN.H.Winchellatthe
turn
ofthecentury(Lewis1898;Winchell560-568:1911).Winchell'spublicationisanespeciallyvaluableresourcewhichsummarizesmuchofLewis'earlierworkandincludesnumerousillustrationsdepictingthepetroglyphsofmajorrockartsitesinsouthernMinnesota,anumberofwhichhavesincebeendestroyed.A50yearhiatuspassedbeforefurthersubstantiveattentionwaspaidtoMinnesotarockartsites.
In
the1960s,DewdneyandKidd(1962)publishedavolumedescribingpictographsintheGreatLakesregion,includingseveralsites
ill
theborderlakesareaofnortheasternMinnesota,whileSnow(1962)revisitedandbrieflydescribedanumberofpreviouslyreportedpetroglyphsiteslocatedinthesouthernpartofthestate.Ataboutthesametime,theMinnesotaHistoricalSocietybecamecustodianofoneofthepremierrock
31t
sitesinNorth
America,
theleffersPetroglyphssite.TherockartatJefferswasdescribedinsomedetailbyanumberofresearchersduringtheearly-andmid-1970s(Lothson1976;Roeferetal1973).
MarkJ.
Dudzik.
OfficeoftheStateArchaeologist.FortSnellingHistoryCenter,St.Paul,Minnesota551I1TheMinnesotaArchaeologist,54,
J
995Copyright
©
bytheMinnesotaArchaeologicalSociety
99
 
100
TheMinnesotaArchaeologist[Vol.
54,1995
JeffersArea....petroglyphpictographpetrofonnpicto/petroglyph
MinnesotaRockArtDistribution,1997
Figure
1.
DistributionofrecordedrockartsitesasofMarch,1997.Notsurprisingly,thedistributionofthestate'spetrogJypbsandpictographsparallelsthedistributionofrockoutcrops;reportedpetroformsoccurinareaswhereat-surface,glacially-depositedrocks,cobblesandbouldersarepresent(cf.Table1).
Interestinidentifying,describingandpreservingrockartinthestatehassincewaned.Inthemeantime,rockartstudiesinneighboringstatesandprovinceshascontinuedtogainmomentum.OrganizationssuchastheOntarioRock
Art
ConservationAssociation(ORACA)havemadesignificantcontributionstothestudyofCanadianrockart,whilearchaeologistsworkinginWisconsinandSouthDakotahaveproducedpublicationsdescribingrecentrockartresearchinthosestates(BirminghamandGreen1987;Sundstrom1993).Ofparticularnotearetheon-goinginvestigationsattheGottschallsiteinsouthwesternWisconsin(Salzer1987b;1993).Inrecentyears,federalarchaeologistshavebeenactivelyidentifyinganddocumentingrockartsitesintheSuperiorNationalForestofnortheasternMinnesota.Minnesota'sRockArtSitesTodate,only55prehistorictoprotohistoricAmericanIndianrockartsiteshavebeenidentifiedinMinnesota.Notsurprisingly,thedistributionofrockartparallelsthedistributionofrockyoutcropsinthestate(Figure1).Atotalof20ofthesesitesarepictographsites,concentratedalongtheborderlakesandriversof
 
Dudzik]TheRockArtofMinnesota
101
MN
1.
Figure2.WhiledepictionsofindividualrockartfiguresareoftenpresentedasinFigure5below,theinterrelationshipofsuchfiguresisobscuredwhentheyareuotrecordedanddepictedaspanelsofassociatedfiguresamongwhichexistmeaningfulspatialrelationships.Clearly,thevariouspetroglyphswhichcomprisetheabovepanel
collectively
document,amongotherthings,ahuntingsceneorhunt-relatedmagic.Reproducedfrom
TheJeffersPetroglyphs:ASurveyandAnalysisoftheCarvings,
by
GordonLothson(1976),MinnesotaHistoricalSociety,St.Paul;usedwithpermission.
northeasternMinnesotabutalsoobservedalongtheMississippiRiveraswellasthelowerSt.Croix;32arepetroglyphsiteswhichoccuralmostexclusivelyonlow-lyingrockoutcropsintheopenprairiesettingofsouthwesternMinnesotaandincavesorrocksheltersborderingtheMississippiRiveranditstributariesinthesoutheast;twoarepetroformeffigiesOCCUlTinginopen-airsettingsinsouthwesternMinnesota;andoneisacombinedpictograph/petroglyphsitealongthelowerSt.CroixRiver(Table
1).
TheorganizationofrockartdatainMinnesotahasbeenfragmented,withanumberofsitesmentionedonlyanecdotallyincorrespondence,historicaccountsorsurvey
reports,
Severalofthestate'searliestreportedsites,sincedestroyed,haveonlyrecentlybeenrecordedinthesitefilesoftheOfficeoftheStateArchaeologist.Someofthesesiteshavebeendescribedingreatdetail,whileothersarepoorly-describedand,insomecases,lackadequateprovenienceinformation.Inotherinstances,multiplesiteshavebeenreportedasasingleentityandhavebeengivenasinglesitenumber.Reflectingdiversestyleandcontent,designelementsassociatedwiththesesitesparallelthoseobservedinneighboringstatesandprovinces,andincludeavarietyofzoomorphic,anthropomorphic,geometricandabstractforms,withhumanandanimalformsalmostuniversallyrepresented.Thefollowingprovidesabriefoverviewofthelocations,settings,contentandstatusofMinnesota'sknownaboriginalrockartsites.
SouthwesternPrairieSites
Manyofthestate'srockartsitesarelocatedintheprairieenvironsofsouthwesternMinnesota.Ofthesesites,JeffersPetroglyphs(21C03;Figure2)isthemostwell-knownandbest-described;

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