502 South Spring Springfield, IL
A harbinger of a changing world. French explorers and voyageurs arrive in the late 17th century. Their presence will transform Native American life and foretell of even more profound change to come. The forces of colonization nearly extinguish Native American life in Illinois.
Carved in the image of a frog, this effigy pipe was created more than 700 years ago. It was found not far from East St. Louis in the American Bottoms area, which is also home to the City of Cahokia. The pipe is made from flint clay, likely obtained from the Ozark Highlands. The right forefoot holds what is likely a rattle to be used in ceremonies, such as those that include song and dance. The bowl to hold tobacco is on the frog’s back, and the draw hole is located near the hind legs.
For two thousand years, many Native Americans in the southeastern United States believed their World was divided into three parts. There was the Upper World, where the life-giving sun was found; the Middle World was where people lived on the surface of the Earth; and finally, the Lower World, which was the source of fertility. According to legend, the Underwater Monster depicted on this bowl inhabited this Lower World, where it was admired and feared. Thunder, rain, water, and other powers were also attributed to it.
This small sandstone tablet, only about four inches tall, shows a man in a bird costume (possibly representing an eagle or peregrine falcon). The reverse side features a crosshatch design that may depict a snakeskin.
Found in Fulton County, the Emmons rattle mask, which dates from the Middle Mississippian Period about 800 years ago, is extremely rare. There has been nothing else like it found in Illinois or elsewhere. Because it is made of wood, probably cedar, the odds of such an object surviving so long are extremely low.
The Atlatl (derived from the Aztec word Nahuatl, which means spear thrower) was a simple device that helped hunters magnify the force with which they could propel a spear. This invention made its appearance at least 10,000 years ago (8,000 B.C.) and was in wide use during the Archaic Period (8,000 to 1,000 B.C.).