It’s been dubbed the Adena pipe and is now the official state artifact of Ohio, as soon as Gov. John Kasich signs off on it, which a spokesman says he will.
The pipe is a 2,000-year-old Native American stone tobacco pipe that was found in 1901 in a burial ground near Chillicothe.
The pipe was found after excavation of the Adena Mound, which once stood 26 feet tall on land owned by former Governor Thomas Worthington who wouldn’t allow its excavation. But when the land changed ownership, William C. Mills, curator of archaeology for what was then the Ohio Archaeological and Historical Society, made his move to discover the mounds’ secrets.
“The Adena Effigy Pipe is the earliest representation we have of a human in all of Ohio history or prehistory,” said Bradley T. Lepper, curator of archaeology at the Ohio Historical Society, in a press release. “Listing the Adena Effigy Pipe as Ohio’s state artifact would honor our indigenous heritage by giving a face to the too often forgotten American Indian people who were the first Ohioans.”
In a 2010 essay by Lepper, titled “The Adena Pipe: Icon of Ancient Ohio,” he mentions what it was like for Mills to stand on top of the mound. Mills said, “One could see, looking directly to the north, the noted Mound City,” while to the south was visible “the Chillicothe group of mounds.”
Lepper reports that Adena is the Hebrew word for “delightful place,” but ICTMN correspondent Duane Champagne has reported that it is also the Anishinabe word for village. (Related story: “600 Sacred Sites”)
According to Lepper’s essay, the Adena pipe likely belonged to a high-ranking adult male. “On his death, the pipe, along with the other accouterments suitable to his station in life, was buried with him,” it reads.
The pipe was carved from Ohio pipestone found along the Scioto River into the shape of a man wearing ear spools and a loincloth with a feather bustle on the back. At a presentation in 1902 of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Mills referred to it as “one of the most wonderful pieces of art taken from the mounds of Ohio.”
The pipe is nearly eight inches tall and was used for smoking tobacco, which was placed in the basket at the feet of the pipe’s figure and smoked through the mouthpiece on the figure’s head. The pipe is now on display at the Ohio Historical Society in Columbus.
Fourth-graders at the Columbus School for Girls proposed the pipe for official artifact status in 2009. Current students from the school watched April 30 as the Ohio House passed the bill unanimously. The bill had already passed in the Senate. After the bill was proposed in 2009 subsequent fourth-grade classes would work on it as they learned about the legislative system.
“Learning about the Adena pipe, introducing the legislation, lobbying and writing letters in support of this bill, and monitoring the House and Senate votes have been hands-on, intimate looks at the political system for the girls,” Betsy Gugle, Columbus School for Girls lower school director, said in the release.