Monday, November 9, 2020

Living along Ohio River for centuries, Native Shawnee called it ‘Kiskepila Sepe’ – ‘Eagle River’

By Steve Hammons 

The Shawnee Native American tribe lived in southern Ohio and the surrounding region for thousands of years. The huge river flowing through their homeland was known as a place where eagles lived and nested along the banks. 

As a result, the Shawnee called the great river “Kiskepila Sepe.” This translates to English as “Eagle River” – “kiskepila” meaning eagle, and “sepe” meaning river. 

The word “Ohio” used for that river is believed to originate from the Seneca and/or Cayuga tribes of today’s western upstate New York, northwestern Pennsylvania and northeastern Ohio at the headwaters of the same great river. The terms reportedly used by those tribes for the river were “O-hee-yuh” or “O-hee-yo,” or sometimes expressed as "Ohi-yo,” all 
meaning “Good River.” 

The Seneca and Cayuga were part of the original five tribes located south of Lake Ontario that formed the Iroquois Confederacy circa the year 1142. The confederacy is considered a prominent example of participatory democracy and social unity, and was an example for the U.S. Founding Fathers. 

The Lenape or Delaware people of Pennsylvania referred to the combined Ohio River and Allegheny River of the Pittsburgh region as “Kithanink,” meaning “Main River.” The town of Kittanning, a bit northeast of Pittsburgh and once a site of a large Lenape town, is named for “on the Main River.” 


Further south and west in Shawnee lands, the vast Eagle River flowed along what are now the boundaries of present-day Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana. The Shawnee lived and hunted both north and south of the Eagle River.

The Shawnee used their canoes to travel on the massive river, and the many other rivers and streams that flowed into it. These waterways offered a clean and pure water supply as well as good fishing, helping supply food for the Shawnee and others in the region. 

But the Shawnee and nearby tribes like the Cherokee followed many thousands of years of human settlement in this region. Ancient and nearly-forgotten people built huge mounds and earthworks throughout southern Ohio. 

The Serpent Mound in south-central Ohio is one well-known example. These ancient peoples of the region are known as the Adena (the oldest), Hopewell, and Fort Ancient (most recent) cultures. 

Today, visitors and explorers can see many of the mysterious mounds and earthworks of southern Ohio. Some sites are now part of state and national parks and other public locations. Unfortunately, some have been destroyed over the decades from modern farming, building and roads. 

In the Cincinnati region north of the Ohio River in southwestern Ohio, as well as in the south-central part of the state, and in the more-hilly Appalachian Mountain foothills of southeastern Ohio, there are more than 70 ancient mounds and earthworks. 

East of Serpent Mound about 90 miles and just outside of Athens, Ohio (home of Ohio University), is the Wolf Plains Group of mounds and earthworks. That location along the Hocking River is now the community called The Plains (Natives called the river the Hockhocking). The 30 earthworks in 
Wolf Plains Group also include 20 mounds in a conical shape as well as nine earthworks described as circular enclosures. 

So, the more-modern Shawnee, Cherokee and other tribes who lived, hunted and fished along the Eagle River for thousands of years were following in the footsteps of many generations of the more-ancient people of North America. 

Further southwest along the Eagle River is the current town of Portsmouth, Ohio (home of Shawnee State University). This region became prominent for the Shawnee and other tribes in the 1700s when the French and British were competing in North America. As trading and interaction with both the French and British evolved, a large Shawnee town called Shannoah sprang up in 1730 near the Eagle River on the Scioto River.

Shannoah is sometimes referred to as Sonnontio or Sonhioto, The location was also known as Lower Shawnee Town or Lower Shawneetown. It was located on a previous site of the earlier mound-building Fort Ancient people. 

It became a center for diplomacy and trading between 1734 and 1758. French and British traders and agents reportedly regarded the town as one of two capitals of the Shawnee tribe. Shannoah or Lower Shawnee Town is described as a sprawling district along the Scioto River, with groups of homes and longhouses. 

Seneca, Lenape and others also lived there but it was mainly a Shawnee community. The population is said to have included Native traders, warriors and their families, people from other tribes and the European traders and agents. One account about the town described a “fairly large number of bad characters from various nations.” 

Did the diverse people at Shannoah call the big river by the Seneca or Cayuga term O-hee-yuh or Ohi-yo – Good River? Did the Lenape still call it Kithanink – Main River? Or did the Shawnee host culture name prevail with Kiskepila Sepe – Eagle River? We now know which name stuck over time: O-hee-yuh or Ohi-yo. 


So, the westernmost tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy, the Seneca and Cayuga, got to name the Ohio River as well as the state of Ohio. Other tribes of the original 1142 confederacy included the Mohawk, Oneida and Onondaga. The Tuscarora, originally from eastern and central North Carolina, joined in 1772. 

The combined people of the Iroquois (a French word) Confederacy are known as Haudenosaunee, or "People of the Longhouse." The confederacy is known for the “Great Law of Peace” and the “Tree of Peace,” the eastern white pine. 

Ironically and sadly, their word Ohiyo or Ohio was part of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 that claimed and planned for the acquisition of Indian lands in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and part of Minnesota. 

The official name of the Northwest Ordinance was "An Ordinance for the Government of the Territory of the United States North West of the River Ohio." This law authorized the new U.S. government to start selling off Indian lands to investors, land speculators, government officials and settlers 
 and to support these activities with armed force as needed. 

Yet, the Iroquois or Haudenosaunee Confederacy played another important part in the founding of the new nation. Their concepts and social-political structures of participatory democracy and peaceful coexistence among the previously-warring tribes were noted by Benjamin Franklin and others planning a new, democratic, unified nation. 

Before the Great Law of Peace, there were many years of destructive and cruel warfare between the five tribes, and killing and other serious problems internally in their societies. Bloodshed and darkness, and dark practices. Darkness upon the land and the people.

Finally, peacemakers among the five tribes worked to find ways to end the bloodshed. After much diplomacy and effort, representatives met under an eastern white pine tree and agreed to principles to help ensure peace, prosperity and healthy lives for their people  the Great Law of Peace. 

Tribe leaders were asked to bury their weapons and war hatchets under an eastern white pine 
 the Great Tree of Peace. 

This years-long effort was led by a man known as The Great Peacemaker who emerged among the five tribes. His name was Dekanawida, which reportedly means "Two River Currents Flowing Together." 

Dekanawida is said to have been born on the northeast area of Lake Ontario, near today's Kingston, Ontario, Canada. His tribe of birth reportedly was the Wyandot, also known as the Wendet or Huron. 

The Wyandot also lived around Lake Erie and through much of Ohio, extending to south-central Ohio. They had a special friendship with the Shawnee, who they referred to as their their "nephew" or "younger brother." 

Dekanawida left the Wyandot tribe and eventually lived further south among the Onondaga and Mohawk. 

There are unusual, mystical stories and legends about Dekanawida’s birth, life and activities. He is considered by many to be a visionary and prophet. He could also be considered a healer and teacher.

In his peacemaking efforts, Dekanawida enlisted the help of the Onondaga leader Hiawatha and a Seneca female leader named 
Jigonsaseh. Dekanawida wanted to not only seek an end to constant warfare, but also to provide new moral directions, spiritual guidance, and teachings about health of body and mind for the people of the five tribes. 

Jigonsaseh was later referred to as the "Mother of Nations" and, along with Hiawatha and Dekanawida, is considered a co-founder of the Iroquois or Haudenosaunee Confederacy.  

Legend has it that Dekanawida envisioned an eagle above the eastern white pine Tree of Peace. The eagle would warn the confederacy of dangers to the people. In artistic representations of the Tree of Peace, there is often an eagle above it.

Ben Franklin reportedly made note of the Iroquois/Haudenosaunee Confederacy in his “Albany Plan of Union” presentation in Albany, New York, in 1754. This meeting of representatives of the 13 colonies was to discuss concepts for planning a unified government for the colonies. This presentation was attended by representatives of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.

Senior leaders of the 
Haudenosaunee reportedly met with delegates of the Continental Congress in 1776 to discuss the confederacy's concepts of democratic self-government, and bringing tribes and peoples (and colonies) together in a more-unified way. 

Interestingly, like the Tree of Peace, the pine tree was widely used on one of the main flags of the American Revolution  the "An Appeal to Heaven" or "Appeal to Heaven" flag. 

The flag featured a green pine tree on a white background under the words "An Appeal to Heaven." In fact, it was the flag of Gen. George Washington's small fleet of ships, the origin of the U.S. Navy. It was also flown by many other Patriots during the Revolution.

Today, the Shawnee’s Eagle River still flows south through those same rolling foothills along the western flank of the Appalachian Mountain Range and then west-southwest toward the flatter country, all the way to the Mississippi River. 

The Eagle River flows through a land where there is now a new nation. A nation where its early founders and leaders tried to incorporate the principles of peaceful democracy, a unified government and a healthy society from the Iroquois Confederacy, the Haudenosaunee, the People of the Longhouse – the Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk and Tuscarora. 

The Good River, the Main River, the Eagle River flows through the land of a nation where long ago Ben Franklin and the founders of that nation sought to learn about the Great Law of Peace and the Tree of Peace. 

Those founders apparently discovered that many of the objectives and concepts they were considering and formulating were like those of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. 

The goals of both groups of visionary leaders: How to work toward unified democracy, prosperity, a healthier people and culture, and spiritual direction that benefits the people.

(Related articles "Human perception key in hard power, soft power, smart power," “Reagan’s 1987 UN speech on ‘alien threat’ resonates now” and “Storytelling affects human biology, beliefs, behavior” are posted on the CultureReady blog, Defense Language and National Security Education Office, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, U.S. Department of Defense.)

Sunday, September 13, 2020

After American Revolution, 1787 Northwest Ordinance set course for Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota

By Steve Hammons

The official name was "An Ordinance for the Government of the Territory of the United States North West of the River Ohio." The new and evolving government of the recently-established nation called the United States of America passed the measure on July 13, 1787.

The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 established several important elements in acquiring and organizing the “Northwest Territory” that included the future states of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and part of Minnesota. These lands had previously been claimed by the British and French.

Native American tribes who had lived in that region for thousands of years were trying to deal with Spanish, French and British competition and warfare in North America. And now, the mostly Anglo, Scots-Irish and Scottish colonists in the east had rebelled against England and started their own nation.

As more European immigrants were heading for a better life in the new United States of America, there were big plans in the works to expand the nation into those American Indian lands to the west. The Northwest Ordinance authorized the cash-starved U.S. government to start selling off large swaths of land to investors and settlers, beginning in southern Ohio, as the Native Shawnee and other tribes were being forced out.

The Northwest Ordinance defined how sections of the Northwest Territory would be divided, governed and the steps to become a state. Ohio became the first new state from the Northwest Territory in 1803. The ordinance also set guidelines for public education, “natural rights” (human and citizen rights) and slavery.


As historian David McCullough explained in his 2019 best-seller “The Pioneers,” some of the authors of the Northwest Ordinance also established a land company of Revolutionary War vets, government officials and others called the Ohio Company of Associates.

This group acquired a large piece of land in “the Ohio Country,” specifically in far southeastern Ohio near the already-established and fortified frontier outpost Fort Harmar at the mouth of the Muskingum River at the Ohio River. This land acquisition is known as the Ohio Company Purchase.

When settlers arrived, they built a fortified settlement called Campus Martius across the Muskingum River from Fort Harmar. The Ohio Company first obtained land that now includes the current Ohio counties of Washington, Meigs, Gallia, Lawrence and Athens. They later expanded that acreage.

They also planned to establish a school of higher learning in these lands. About 25 miles down the Ohio River, then northwest up the Hockhocking River another 25 miles deeper into Ohio, the town of Athens was founded. The school they established there became Ohio University, formally founded in 1804.

Even today, words from the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 are engraved on one of the campus gateways of the main College Green of Ohio University: "Religion, morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged."

On another historical gateway entrance to the Ohio U. College Green are inscribed the words, “So enter that daily thou mayest grow in knowledge wisdom and love.” When leaving the College Green via the same gateway, you will see the words, “So depart that daily thou mayest better serve thy fellowmen thy country and thy God.”

Another large land purchase would be made further southwest and west along the Ohio River, north of the fortified settlement later named Cincinnati. The name was related to a veterans organization of officers of the Revolutionary War Continental Army. It originates with an early Roman leader named Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus.

After more warfare, the regional Shawnee, Miami (Myaami) and other Native American tribes would be militarily pushed out of this area, though some remained on temporary reservations in northwest Ohio after the final defeats. 

North of Cincinnati, Quaker settlers had found good farm country and acquired land through the Symmes Purchase, also known as the Miami Purchase. Many of those Quakers, or Friends as they are known, tried to help the Shawnee and other Indians by teaching farming, grain milling, livestock management and other “civilized” European ways, including spirituality, language and education, and the roles of women and men.

Some Quakers were moving west from Pennsylvania and points east. Some were now moving from Virginia and former southern colonies to north of the Ohio River, into southern Ohio. This is because the Northwest Ordinance outlawed slavery in the Northwest Territory.


The Ordinance of 1787 also strengthened the concept of “natural rights,” which would be seen later in the Bill of Rights. These included property rights, religious freedom, trial by jury, and prohibition of excessive fines, and cruel and unusual punishments.

Article 6 of the ordinance also addressed the issue of slavery. It prohibited slavery in the Northwest Territory but allowed for the capture and return of those who had escaped or were escaping slavery.

The section stated: “There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have been duly convicted: Provided, always, That any person escaping into the same, from whom labor or service is lawfully claimed in any one of the original States, such fugitive may be lawfully reclaimed and conveyed to the person claiming his or her labor or service as aforesaid.”

At that point, the Ohio River became the legal and cultural boundary of slavery and non-slavery regions. The Northwest Ordinance’s Article 6 is reportedly quoted directly and verbatim in the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution 
(1865) that outlawed all slavery in the U.S.

The natural rights and legal rights of the Native American tribes in the Ohio Country and the rest of the Northwest Territory were also addressed in the ordinance. Section 8 noted legal procedures for transfer of land ownership related to, “… parts of the district in which the Indian titles shall have been extinguished …”

Section 8 stated, “For the prevention of crimes and injuries, the laws to be adopted or made shall have force in all parts of the district, and for the execution of process, criminal and civil, the governor shall make proper divisions thereof; and he shall proceed from time to time as circumstances may require, to lay out the parts of the district in which the Indian titles shall have been extinguished, into counties and townships, subject, however, to such alterations as may thereafter be made by the legislature.”

Another part of the ordinance related to the Native people states, “The utmost good faith shall always be observed towards the Indians; their lands and property shall never be taken from them without their consent; and, in their property, rights, and liberty, they shall never be invaded or disturbed, unless in just and lawful wars authorized by Congress; but laws founded in justice and humanity, shall from time to time be made for preventing wrongs being done to them, and for preserving peace and friendship with them.”

However, many regional Indians had not agreed to surrender their lands and ancestral homelands to the investors and settlers under the Northwest Ordinance. The Shawnee of central and southern Ohio, along with the Miami or Myaami of western Ohio and Indiana, and other Native allies continued fighting against the takeover of their territories.

Many of the original tribes of the region were forced to various points west including Kansas, Missouri and to “Indian Territory” of Oklahoma.

Over time, more sections of the Northwest Territory would be taken over and divided into states. Ohio gained statehood in 1803, Indiana in 1816 and Illinois in 1818. Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota became states in the following years.

(Related articles “Storytelling affects human biology, beliefs, behavior” and “Reagan’s 1987 UN speech on ‘alien threat’ resonates now” are posted on the CultureReady blog, Defense Language and National Security Education Office, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, U.S. Department of Defense.) 

Saturday, August 29, 2020

First responders must deal with society’s problems, shortcomings, injustices every day

By Steve Hammons 

Joblessness, homelessness, poverty, child abuse and neglect, mental health issues, needless accident injuries, high stress, violent and stupid human behavior – these are just some of the elements of today’s society that firefighters, paramedics, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and public safety peace officers must constantly face. 

Hospital emergency department staff, child protection agency personnel, social workers and others on the front lines also see the tragic results of the complex societal challenges they face every day. 

Constantly dealing with the human damage related to flaws and inadequacies of our current health care, economic and social safety net systems takes a toll on the minds and hearts of our first responders. 

Seeing and dealing with these things takes a toll on their souls. 

Like the rest of us, first responders might feel helpless to do anything beyond trying to handle the immediate situation in front of them – the injured child, the fire caused by carelessness, the human predator assaulting a vulnerable person. 


Our troops overseas also see these same patterns repeating over and over in societies and nations around the world. There is human tragedy and suffering that is preventable and could be mitigated … if only there was a will and a way. 

U.S. armed forces are trained and equipped to launch robust humanitarian efforts around the world, though this is not their primary mission. And when U.S. forces inadvertently inflict human suffering among the innocent, “collateral damage” of civilian women and children is a high cost to pay for some military operations. 

What’s the collateral damage here at home? What price are we willing to pay for U.S. children living in poverty, homelessness and hunger? How about the thousands of homeless American military veterans and others sleeping on the streets? 

What damage does this do to our collective soul as a nation? 

First responders – from fire department EMTs to public safety peace officers on patrol – must face these realities, steel their hearts and try to do the best they can while maintaining their humanity and sanity under unrelenting difficult situations in our society today. 

Teachers and school personnel often see the same problems in the children, teens and families they strive to educate, help and serve. Many child abuse and neglect reports to child safety agencies come from teachers and school staff. 

Firefighters, paramedics, EMTs and public safety peace officers also file a significant number of the child abuse and neglect reports to child safety investigators.


Many first responders might wish for better working conditions where they didn’t have to face the same degree of human suffering, violence, stupidity and tragedy so frequently. 

Those calls to child abuse situations can be rough. The same with other cases of cruelty and savagery, or even accident injuries that could have been prevented. Serious accident injuries involving children can be emotionally difficult. First responders face these kinds of cases all the time and must deal with the related stress. 

Stress "debriefing" sessions are often helpful for first responders to process the feelings of what they've had to see. Post-traumatic stress feelings are common among first responders. Most of those types of feelings are normal, natural and appropriate. They show that our first responders have hearts and compassion, and that they are human.

Maybe if poverty and homelessness were mitigated and reduced, we could see a reduction in many of these human situations. If decent-paying jobs were more widely available, would people resort to crime to the same degree? 

What if more robust social and health care services were available to more people, from prenatal care and newborns to the elderly? Could that help the overall situation, including alcohol and drug abuse? 

How can we improve the human dynamics that first responders must deal with? How can we prevent that unnecessary car wreck or tragic accident injury? How can we save those children from abuse, neglect and hunger? 

Maybe we make no efforts to improve these situations. We just leave it to the first responders to pick up the pieces of dysfunction and human damage in our society. Let the firefighters, paramedics, peace officers and other first responders handle the human tragedy in today’s world, and deal with the related stress. 

Or maybe, we need to create communities and societies where our first responders see less and less human suffering, including their own.

(Related articles "Human perception key in hard power, soft power, smart power" and  “Storytelling affects human biology, beliefs, behavior” are posted on the CultureReady blog, Defense Language and National Security Education Office, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, U.S. Department of Defense.)

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Smallpox-tainted blankets were 1763 bioweapon on northern Appalachian Mountains frontier

By Steve Hammons 

Many of us might have heard or read accounts about Native Americans being given blankets tainted with contagious disease during the early Indian wars in an effort to create deadly epidemics among American Indian people. 

In situations before, during and after the early colonial Indian wars of the 1700s when this could have occurred, there is often little or no hard evidence. 

However, historians have found solid proof of intentional infection of Indian tribes via gifts of smallpox-tainted blankets during spring and summer of 1763 in the northern Appalachian Mountain region. Smallpox is a highly-contagious disease with horrible symptoms, after effects and a high death rate. Even today, it is considered a bioterrorism and bioweapon danger. 

During that 1763 period, British officials, commanders and settlers on the western frontier in the central and northern Appalachian Mountains were facing renewed hostilities with local Native people – Shawnee, Mingo, Delaware and others. And British officials and settlers were eagerly eyeing what they called “the Ohio Country” just west of the Appalachians. 

The British military and colonists had defeated the French in the French and Indian War (1754–1763) for control of the region. Now, in the spring and summer of 1763, what had previously been the site of French Fort Duquesne at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers was the British frontier outpost Fort Pitt, built in 1758 (now Pittsburgh).


After the defeat of the French and their signing of a final treaty with the British, regional Native tribes had also signed agreements with the British. Colonial expansion into Indian lands would be restricted, according to these agreements. Native tribes who had sided with the French to push back British expansion into Indian lands briefly ceased hostilities. 

But the Native people saw that after the defeat of the French, even more settlers from the British colonies to the east were invading the Appalachian Mountains. The French were pushed out, now the regional Indians also wanted to halt and reverse the intrusion into their lands by British colonists and officials who also wanted that land. 

Those British settlers were also pushing over the Appalachian mountains into the western side of the range – into the lands surrounding the vast river said to be known to regional Indians as the “Ohi yo” or “Ohiyo.” 

With more British forts, troops and settlers moving into the region, violence again broke out. This is known as “Pontiac’s War.” There were attacks on settlers and battles with frontier colonial militia and Redcoat troops. 

Around Fort Pitt, Shawnee, Mingo, Delaware and others were fighting back against the steady invasion of their lands from British military forces and colonists. By summer 1763 Fort Pitt was under siege by a force of regional Native tribes. The Shawnee and their allies had been attacking British outposts and settlers throughout the region. 

The commander of Fort Pitt, Capt. Simeon Ecuyer, along with Col. Henry Bouquet and Sir Jeffery Amherst, then commander-in-chief of the British forces in North America, exchanged correspondence about trying to trigger a smallpox epidemic among their Native adversaries.

Ecuyer had sent word that Fort Pitt was under attack, under siege and in grave danger. Because of the Indian attacks, local colonial settlers had fled to the fort. Additionally, smallpox had broken out at Fort Pitt and was also occurring in the area. 

Bouquet, based in Philadelphia, was on his way to Fort Pitt with military reinforcements. In their correspondence, the two men agreed on the plan to infect local tribal communities with smallpox. 

At the same time of those communications between Ecuyer and Bouquet, a Fort Pitt fur trader, land speculator and militia captain named William Trent wrote in his diary about including blankets from the fort’s smallpox infirmary in gifts and provisions to Native representatives during negotiations. 

In the correspondence and diary entries, there is clear and detailed proof of the intent to spread smallpox among the Indian communities. There are also indications that Gen. Thomas Gage, who replaced Amherst the same year as commander of British forces in North America, also may have known about the smallpox infection tactic.


Regional tribes on the western side of the Appalachian Range wanted to force the British and their colonists out of the Ohiyo or Ohio region, and back across to the eastern side of the Appalachians. 

During the Indian resistance of Pontiac’s War, it has been estimated that more than 500 British troops were killed. In the Ohio River Valley region, approximately 2,000 settlers may have died during the conflicts. 

Native forces destroyed many British forts along the frontier. However, Fort Pitt and two others, Fort Detroit and Fort Niagara, survived. 

Due to the escalated warfare, in October 1763, British authorities did issue the Royal Proclamation of 1763. This restricted any expansion of settlement by colonists west of the Appalachian Mountain Range. 

But by 1763, many colonists were already increasingly at odds with their British overlords, and this proclamation was widely ignored and not enforced. This issue is regarded as one of the many that triggered the American Revolution. British subjects in North America were not about to stop their quest for the land that lay to the west.

And when the full-scale rebellion broke out, the British called upon regional tribes to side with the King and his Redcoats. Because if these rebellious colonists were not held in check, they would surely further invade Indian lands. Many Native tribes did side with the British during the Revolution for that reason. 

When the former British colonists established their new nation -- one they named the United States of America -- the expansion of those former colonists westward would continue to impact Native people in traumatic ways for many generations up to the present day.

Historians apparently are unsure how effective the smallpox-contaminated blankets were in causing an epidemic in the Indian communities involved in the siege of Fort Pitt. Smallpox was an ongoing threat in that era. 

However, through intentional or unintentional means, it is undisputed that huge percentages of the Native population of North America died from European diseases. This probably significantly contributed to their military defeats from the 1600s to the 1800s as well as much damage and destruction for many American Indian societies and cultures.

(Related articles “Storytelling affects human biology, beliefs, behavior” and “Reagan’s 1987 UN speech on ‘alien threat’ resonates now” are posted on the CultureReady blog, Defense Language and National Security Education Office, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, U.S. Department of Defense.) 

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Well-known ‘Mothman’ case also about dedicated local journalist, Native history?

By Steve Hammons

The so-called “Mothman” reports around the town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, in 1966-67 have been widely portrayed in books, TV shows and a popular Hollywood movie.

Real-life researcher and writer John Keel went to Point Pleasant to investigate, where he worked closely with local newspaper reporter and columnist Mary Hyre of The Athens Messenger daily newspaper based in nearby Athens, Ohio. Athens was founded in 1797 and is home to Ohio University, chartered in 1787 and founded in 1804.

Hyre had been following up on reports from local citizens about UFOs seen in the sky (now referred to as “UAP” by the U.S. Navy – “unidentified aerial phenomena”). Then, reports of a large, unusual being also started coming in.

Some Point Pleasant locals reportedly wonder if various odd occurrences in the area are linked to the deeper history there. Long before the UFOs and Mothman allegedly showed up in the area, the October 1774 Battle of Point Pleasant or Battle of Kanawha took place.

Native Shawnee, Mingo and other Indian allies were defeated by colonial militia with British Redcoat involvement in this important battle. The father of Shawnee leader Tecumseh was killed in the battle when Tecumseh was just a boy. Shawnee Chief Cornstalk is said to have asked the Great Spirit for a curse on the land there.


In the 2002 Hollywood movie version, “The Mothman Prophecies,” based on Keel’s 1975 best-selling book of the same name, Richard Gere plays the Keel-like character. Hyre seems to be represented by actor Laura Linney who plays not a local community newspaper reporter, but a Point Pleasant city public safety peace officer.

The 2019 movie “Dark Waters” starring Mark Ruffalo looks at this same region along the Ohio River. The 2019 best-selling book “The Pioneers” by historian David McCullough also explores the area. In fact, McCullough focuses on Athens and the founding of Ohio University, now home of the respected Scripps College of Communication and E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.

Hyre worked at The Messenger’s news bureau covering Point Pleasant and the surrounding region. She was part of the community and her newspaper column “Where The Waters Mingle” was widely read. Point Pleasant is at the confluence of the Kanawha and Ohio Rivers.

In 1966, Hyre was covering the normal kinds of community events and news topics when reports started coming in of unusual lights in the sky. These reports were from reliable citizens. So, she started following up, conducting interviews with locals about what they saw, and writing articles about the accounts and observations being reported to her.

When Keel arrived in Point Pleasant to investigate, he and Hyre worked together to try to understand and document the unusual reports and unfolding developments in the area. There would be dozens of UFO or UAP reports in the area, maybe hundreds.

These reports of odd phenomena ended up continuing for more than a year into 1967. There were also claims of pets and livestock being mutilated.

And then, on Dec. 15, 1967, the Silver Bridge from Point Pleasant across the Ohio River collapsed. Thirty-one cars plunged into the cold river, 46 died and nine were injured.

Hyre covered it all, as painful as it was for her. Her role as a dedicated journalist and trusted neighbor to the people of the area is a part of the Mothman story that is often overlooked.

Hyre passed on in February 1970 at age 54 after a brief illness. She had worked at The Athens Messenger for 27 years and had served the people of the area as a trusted journalist.

On Sunday, March 30, 1975, The Messenger ran an article with the headline, "Mason 'Mothman Prophecies – Author Keel Dedicates Book to the Late Mary Hyre.” The article recounted how Hyre and Keel joined forces to gather information, attempt to gain understanding and inform their readers.


Could Hyre, Keel and the residents of the region have been dealing with, in some mysterious way, the troubled history of that area – and of our country?

According to some accounts, Shawnee Chief Cornstalk called upon the Great Spirit to curse the land around Point Pleasant because of the treachery and harm caused to the Shawnee and other Indians of the region.

European colonists from Virginia and other colonies were pushing further into Native lands. And some of these colonists and their militias were having increasingly strained relations with their British overlords and Redcoat troops.

Tecumseh, whose father was killed at the 1774 Battle of Point Pleasant, would grow into a leader who would try to unite Native people of the region. He unified many Indian tribes in an alliance to establish a joint-tribal territory.

But, in the 1794 Battle of Fallen Timbers in northwestern Ohio, Tecumseh and his alliance were defeated by frontier militias and forces of the new government formed by the European colonists to the east – now called the United States of America.

The Shawnee were eventually pushed out of all of Ohio. To Kansas, to Oklahoma, to the winds. The Miami or Myaami in southwestern Ohio and Indiana were also forced west to Oklahoma.

The Cherokee, just to the south, 
intermingled and intermarried with Scottish, Scots-Irish and Anglo pioneers during the 1700s. Many mixed-ethnicity families in the region were created. These cultures merged and a unique population developed. Some Cherokee took up the ways of European colonists and new “Americans.”

Yet, the Cherokee, including many mixed-ethnicity Cherokee, were rounded up, forced into harsh detention camps, and forced west on various versions of the “Trail of Tears” around 1838-39, when thousands died, including babies, children and the elderly. 

A so-called “Cherokee diaspora” took place – Cherokee people dispersed far and wide, though many remained close to the homeland in the southern Appalachian mountain area. And many had adopted the Anglo and Scottish names from their fathers and grandfathers, and were as white as they were Cherokee, or more white than Cherokee in many cases. Over the generations, these families intermarried into the larger population of the region and throughout the U.S.

Is this complex and difficult history related in any way to the UFO, UAP and Mothman incidents in Point Pleasant in 1966-67? Were Mary Hyre and John Keel actually encountering something related to a deeper history, an ancient history of that area?

After all, long, long ago, Shawnee,
Cherokee and other Native tribes and cultures had been there for thousands of years. They lived in the deep forests and hills. They lived on, traveled on and fished in the many streams and rivers, including the majestic waterway later known as the "Ohi yo" or "Ohiyo."

And generations upon generations were born, lived and passed on in the region “Where The Waters Mingle.”

(Related articles “Storytelling affects human biology, beliefs, behavior” and “Reagan’s 1987 UN speech on ‘alien threat’ resonates now” are posted on the CultureReady blog, Defense Language and National Security Education Office, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, U.S. Department of Defense.) 

Friday, July 3, 2020

‘Hillbilly’ J.D. Vance, columnist Clarence Page find common ground in southwest Ohio roots

By Steve Hammons

Long-time Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page and J.D. Vance, author of the book “Hillbilly Elegy” (movie due out soon), have recently acknowledged some overlapping elements of their upbringing.

Both are from Middletown, located between Dayton and Cincinnati in the southwestern corner of Ohio, near the Indiana and Kentucky state lines.

Page, a generation older than Vance, has pointed out that both his father and Vance’s grandfather worked in the same Middletown lumberyard, and that both families struggled financially.

Both Page and Vance have noted that limited economic opportunities contributed to hardships for not only their families, but also for their larger communities. For Page’s family – the Black community. And for Vance’s family – the people in southwest Ohio from southern Appalachia.

In both cases, Page and Vance say that the experiences of their families are similar to those of others from these respective communities.


These two communities have sometimes been perceived and labeled in certain derogatory ways. The two also seem to have several factual historical elements in common, as well as obvious differences.

In the case of southern Appalachian “hillbillies,” often of Scots-Irish backgrounds, they have sometimes been called a dysfunctional group overall, with bad work habits, problematic family relationships, low educational attainment, poor health, drug and alcohol abuse, antisocial behavior, a bad attitude that is rebellious against authority and a chip on their shoulder.

In the case of the Black community, they have sometimes been called a dysfunctional group overall, with bad work habits, problematic family relationships, low educational attainment, poor health, drug and alcohol abuse, antisocial behavior, a bad attitude that is rebellious against authority and a chip on their shoulder.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to examine the histories of these two groups and see that there are significant similarities that could be related to some of these derogatory perceptions and labels.

Both have a history of being used as cheap labor – very cheap labor – and often trapped in oppressive poverty by external economic, sociological and geographic circumstances for generations while trying to survive and work toward a better life.

Both Page’s and Vance’s families had moved north in years past, north of the Ohio River and into that southwestern corner of Ohio. The general route from the southern Appalachian region into southwest Ohio and points north and northwest is known as the “Hillbilly Highway.”

This is not to be confused with the east-west, officially-named Appalachian Highway, State Route 32, between Cincinnati and Athens, deeper in the Appalachian region. Athens is home of Ohio University (Page’s alma mater) and a key data point in historian David McCullough’s recent best-selling book “The Pioneers.”

The Underground Railroad across the Ohio River and through southern Ohio was another north-south route taken by many people who were also seeking a better life. Today, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is located in downtown Cincinnati near the Bengals and Reds stadiums on the banks of the Ohio River. After the Civil War, of course, many people headed north for a number of reasons.


Some or many of the experiences of the families of Page and Vance in southwestern Ohio are probably related to the deeper historical background of the area, in one way or another.

Long before the Civil War period, Revolutionary War veterans and other settlers moved into the area as the Shawnee and other Native tribes in the region were being pushed out. Cincinnati was named for a Revolutionary War Continental Army officer veterans’ group.

After the Revolutionary War, the land rush into “the Ohio Country” was on. The Shawnee and other regional tribes fought many battles to protect their land and way of life. But, in the end, they were militarily defeated.

Quaker settlers had arrived in southwestern Ohio in the early 1800s and continued migrating to that area and others north of the Ohio River. In their own way, they tried to help the defeated Shawnee and other tribes, sometimes through misguided approaches. Regional Quakers were reportedly very involved in the Underground Railroad and anti-slavery 
abolitionist movement.

Several waves of German immigrants arrived in the southwestern Ohio area in the mid-1800s. Cincinnati was a major center for German immigrants and is still a center of German-American culture today. Cincinnati is one point of the "German triangle" of German immigrants and settlement, with St. Louis and Milwaukee being the other two points of the triangle.

Some people might associate German-Americans of the region with
loyalty and ideological issues during World War I and World War II. However, German-Americans from Ohio fought bravely for the Union in the Civil War. Several all-German-American regiments from Ohio and elsewhere in the North fought in major Civil War battles.

So, it’s probably fair to say that Page and Vance are both products of similar and common experiences, not only of their growing-up years in Middletown, but also of certain larger contexts of American history and the history of southwestern Ohio.

(Related articles "Navy Research Project on Intuition," "Human perception key in hard power, soft power, smart power" and “Storytelling affects human biology, beliefs, behavior” are posted on the CultureReady blog, Defense Language and National Security Education Office, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, U.S. Department of Defense.)

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Startup company researching advanced tech, UFOs gives updates during Q&A

By Steve Hammons

More information was put forward last week about news reports describing U.S. Navy encounters with unusual, unidentified objects or phenomena.

In an email notice last Thurs., May 21, to interested members of the public, the startup company To The Stars Academy of Arts and Science (TTSA) published questions and answers from a May 13, one-hour, live, Q&A session on Twitter.

Twenty-five of the questions were posted and TTSA adviser Christopher Mellon did the answering on behalf of the company. Mellon is a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence.

In the past two years, both the Navy and the U.S. Defense Department have confirmed that multiple incidents involved what they are officially calling “unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP).”

The company also noted that it plans to launch a communications effort called “TTSA Talks” that will use various formats to discuss and explain TTSA’s research and other activities. Mellon’s Q&A session on Twitter is planned to be the first of several TTSA Talks, the company said.


Of the 25 questions selected by TTSA for publication, some focused on the Navy fighter jet videos that have been in the news. Other questions and answers involved the activities of Congress and the U.S. defense and intelligence communities. The role of the media and the accuracy of news coverage were also brought up.

Below are verbatim excerpts from 12 of the 25 Qs and As that seem to provide helpful ways to look at these and related topics:

Q #2: Is it plausible that the #UAP subject has been buried deep within private industry to avoid government oversight and public scrutiny? And if so, what can be done to identify the private entities in possession of the data (or technology)?

A: It is possible that there are aspects of this that are in private sector hands …

Q #7: Reporter George Knapp [award-winning investigative journalist, KLAS-TV News, CBS8, Las Vegas] has speculated there are other, better funded UAP programs that should come to light. Word is about 4 of them in existence for many decades. Do you feel confident we will learn about more programs in the near future?

A: I’m not sure what programs he is referring to but I see no evidence DoD is about to release info about new, undisclosed, classified programs on this topic. We applaud DoD’s recent openness regarding the videos however we would like to see greater transparency going forward. All of us at TTSA would like to see greater government transparency.

Q #9: How would the team respond to criticism of a small group claiming TTSA is positioning #UAP as a potential threat to create a "defense" narrative around the topic? This seems simply a way to engage those who only respond to something if they think it’s a POTENTIAL threat.

A: We were motivated by the lack of support for pilots concerned about threats to (them) from these aircraft, from mid-air collisions, or possibly worse.

Q #11: Thanks for getting credible mainstream outlets to cover this (NYT, CNN, WaPo, etc.)! My question is does appearing on disinformation programs like Glenn Beck/Hannity do more hurt than good?

A: I don’t regard the UAP issue as a partisan topic, and Lue [Luis Elizondo, TTSA director of government services and programs] and I do interviews for all manner of press. I have independently written about my concerns and distaste for excessive partisanship and the problems it poses

Q #12: Has there been any tangible progress on the international stage? What kind of progress, do you believe, has been achieved by other countries in tracking, investigating, and replicating these phenomena? And, lastly, are you seeing positive momentum?

A: There is growing international interest. In 2018, for example, the Chinese government-funded an international UAP symposium focused on high tech issues. Lue recently returned from a visit to Latin America that will feature prominently in an upcoming episode of #UNIDENTIFIED [A&E History Channel docu-series “Unidentified: Inside America's UFO Investigation”].

Q #13: If @TTSAcademy could only accomplish one goal (in my opinion you've already accomplished a great deal) - What would the most important thing that comes out of all this?

A: Great question! If the existence of intelligent extraterrestrial life is established, it will prompt the biggest transformation in humanity’s outlook since Copernicus.


Mellon also fielded additional questions that have been raised over the decades as well in the last couple of years.

Q #14: Can you address how the understanding/realization of the UAP being a real phenomenon has changed you and other members of TTSA at a personal level?

A: Wow, interesting question. I’m proud of what we have achieved in a short period of time but also keenly aware that the ramifications are immense and potentially very concerning. The more concrete the issue becomes the more weighty it becomes.

Q #15: How do you guys straddle the confidentiality issues that are inherent with Disclosure of these matters? What's it like to work with people that know things but can't breach their confidentiality?

A: People in the IC live with that all the time. Even among people with TS clearances there are all manner of restricted compartments. I once had to live with a report that terrorists had smuggled a nuke into DC and I couldn’t warn friends and neighbors to get out of town! That was difficult, this is not.

Q #16: In May 2016, Leslie Kean 
[author, journalist, researcher] asked: "Are you certain there is no government cover-up?" You answered, "It’s impossible to prove the negative, so all I can say is that I never saw any evidence of official interest in UAPs."

A: Uncle Sam has a big basement and rummaging around there can turn up all manner of things. However, I think the central problem at the moment is the lack of government interest and effort to get to the bottom of the issue.

Q #17: If the 3 videos released thus far were unclassified (and it’s arguable whether they ever were) it begs the question: why? It seems out of character to release footage like this unless the content is unremarkable or part of a planned disclosure campaign.

A: DoD has thoroughly reviewed the videos and publicly stated: “After a thorough review, the dept. has determined that the authorized release of these unclassified videos does not reveal any sensitive capabilities or systems, and does not impinge on any subsequent investigations of military air space incursions by unidentified aerial phenomena.”

Q #24: Other than "these objects are real" do we know anything about the phenomenon at this stage... like what it is, who it is, where it's from, etc.?

A: Our government hasn’t bothered even to pull data from existing sensor systems much less engage in a vigorous investigation …

Q #25: Hello, my question is: do the vast majority of people in the intelligence community believe that the UAP’s could in fact be extraterrestrial?

A: Absolutely not! We’re still at the stage of getting the community to take the issue seriously. Once people do engage however this hypothesis inevitably arises.

-  -  -

The TTSA company advises people to stay tuned for future communications about their research and work. In their recent email, TTSA explained about future TTSA Talks efforts. “The program will invite different members of the TTSA team to host informative conversations that dive deeper into the complexities surrounding the company’s mission."

"Those who are able to tune-in will get exclusive insight into the various people, partnerships and projects that are helping us achieve our goals. Formats will include live Q&A sessions, podcasts and more. We look forward to announcing our next installment of the series very soon,” the company email stated.

To read the full 25-question Q&A, visit the TTSA site 

(Related articles 
"Navy Research Project on Intuition" and “Storytelling affects human biology, beliefs, behavior” are posted on the CultureReady blog, Defense Language and National Security Education Office, Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, U.S. Department of Defense.)