Universal Translator

Friday, 29 November 2013

"Behind the Mounds: 'The Children of the Sun God' "

Moundville Archaeological Park is located in Moundville, Alabama. The Moundville archaeological site, occupied from around A.D. 1000 until A.D. 1450, was a large settlement of Mississippian culture on the Black Warrior River in west-central Alabama. The community took the form of a three hundred-acre village, containing twenty-six earthen mounds, built on a bluff overlooking the river.

The book Behind the Mounds by Lona Mae Wilson, published in 1963, tells the story of the Mounds as well as presenting other fascinating material about the them such as the poem below. 

 In April 1935, with the cooperation of the Hale County Schools, University of Alabama, and CCC Camp #444, the Hale County Historical Society presented on Mound B, the pageant, “Children of the Sun God”. (Below is the prologue to the pageant, which may be read in full in Behind the Mounds).

Moundville Archaeological Park, as seen from one of the largest mounds

 The Children of the Sun God
By Clara Powers and Sue Ellen Moore

  In the remote past so far distant
  That time itself seems without reckoning
  Great Hordes of people left their Northern
Asiatic shores
  To seek new homes across the strait
  We now call Bering.
  Their purpose must remain unknown:
  Possibly a warmer climate: perhaps more
fertile soil,
  Perchance to seek the “Fair God.”
  Sufficient it is for us
  That they came.

  Nor did the trek end on Alaskan
  Now, slow, aloof, remote
  The walls of the purple, blue
  Rockies darken their path.
  From afar the streams
  Flow south and east
  Making confluence with he great
Mississippi –
  “Father of waters” the Indians
  Have called him.
  The forest abode
  Rank beyond rank, unaltered, under
the sky.

  There was in this land no road,
  Nor path, nor trail
  Save where the bronzed moccasin
  Sought shelter frail.
  The forest kept
  Its secrets hidden behind a
rampart of dense trees
  Unhewn by axemen,
  Still in the rains of April, loud in
  The Autumn Breeze,
  By river, plain, or hill.
  Forth from that region they went
  To sun-set faced:
  They rode past marsh and plain
  Through forest of pine, somber
with rain;
  Through groves of oaks up-rooted
  By storms;
  Through swamp and over prairie,
  On and on.
  League after league, day upon
endless day
  Through more lofty mountains where
  The deer
  Browsed in the dreary dawn till
  The hills
Rolled off at last, --they saw
  An empty plain
  A pale, wild river snaking
  Over its heart
  Wide fields of burnt earth linking
  Sky to sky
  And here they rested by the Ohio.

  Year after year, the clouds sailed
  Up from the South
  To signal the winter’s going; through
  The blue skies
  The cardinal flitted northward year
  On year.
  Walking with thunder-shoes the
  Rains remote
  Came storming from the Gulf
  Athwart the trees.
  Under that various striving called life
  These people lived and moved
  And had their being—
  Birth, wooing, warring, death—
  All in their time.

  The rain across the corn! The
  Burial Mound
  Piled high; the joy, the grief,
  The hope, the fear!
  So it went, year on changeless
  Then suddenly as the winter
  Once more changed
  Its face, and over the somber maze
  Of branches,
  There drifted tender lace of greening
  A loud, clear call to journey
  Far to South
  Was felt by those stout hearts.
  Courage was theirs and undying faith
  That kindles other’s courage, makes
  It new.

  Out of the night they came
  Out of the North
  “Paddle to paddle spoke”
  Into the heart of the South
  Trailing the lilies past
  From the wild Ohioan lees
  To where magnolia swamps
  Lift to the balmy sky
  Their challiced buds of green.
  Here they paused
  On Warrior’s sunny shores
  To build these Mounds—
  Homes they were—and temples
  Their worship to fulfill.