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Bushberg Indian Site

By: Frank Magre

Transcribed by: Lisa K. Gendron

This petroglyph site is south of the Meramec River's confluence with the Mississippi River. It was found by Benedictine monks near their monastery at Pevely, Missouri. The Benedictine order started in the 6th century in Europe, came to America about 1850, and to Missouri via Canada in 1860.

The glyphs are on boulders strewn along the river bank for about 900 yards. They run from the water's edge at 0.0 river stage 50 to 75 feet back. On the highest boulder containing them, it is 15" above the water at zero river stage. All are subject to flooding except a small group in a cave at the site. Since the river stage fluctuates erratically, it has been hard for us to inventory and record this site.

Pictographs, heirographics, indian writing, petroglyphs, whatever you may call them, are designs chipped, or painted on stone by primitive man. As to their meaning, we do not have much to go on. Hooton, Howard, Mallery and some educated Europeans who lived with the early Indians observed that they were a device used by the Shamans. These priests had a great influence on the individual Indian. They Shamans were clairvoyants who interpreted his supernatural life such as accidents, sickness, death, birth, fire and drought, storms, and fertility. He also performed tribal rituals pertaining to the efforts of the tribe in hunting, war, puberty, crop planting, harvesting, etc. These were usually performed at a sacred place and he made designs to help him carry out the ritual in a precise manner. Each symbol TO HIM ONLY was a memory prod that enabled him to keep his chants or songs in the same sequence each time he performed the ceremony.

In the United States were over 600 different tribes, many badly divided, each performing their respective rituals, so one can visualize the chances of interpreting that which is found at one of these sacred places. It would be like an average person trying to read a secretary's shorthand note book.

Most sites are again divided by two types of symbols. REALISTIC symbols such as deer, turtle, birds, fish, which are typical woodland symbols and a culture that goes back to 1000 years B.C. ABSTRACT symbols such as the cross, coil, circles, mace, square, bi-lobe arrow, feathered serpents, and footprints were used by the Middle-Mississippi townspeople, a culture that flourished in the Mississippi Valley about 900 A.D. to 1400 A.D. They lived in stockaded villages, had an agriculture economy, built temple mounds and lived in an intricate, religious environment. This culture was probably influenced in some way by the MAYAN and MEXICAN cultures. However they confuse us by using some HOPEWELL and WOODLAND symbols.

Site location
Site sketch


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