A Missouri cave filled with 1,000-year-old indigenous paintings sold at auction and the Osage Nation want it back

Originally published at: A Missouri cave filled with 1,000-year-old indigenous paintings sold at auction and the Osage Nation want it back | Boing Boing


a deed is a piece of paper, or maybe taking the cave by right of conquest would be a deed.


whats kind of confusing about this is: the tribe that claims something from over 1000 years ago is almost certainly not the tribe that made those drawings.


1000 years back everyone is related to everyone else, at least on the same continent. Any native tribe can claim their ancestors made those drawing and almost certanly be correct. European descendants, not so much.


The new possessor has a rare opportunity & could benefit enormously in tax benefits, community relations, & reputation by acknowledging tribal sovereignty & donating the cave.


Er, no. This completely ignore how diverse the tribes and nations were on this continent. It also ignores how much movement among indigenous peoples began after the arrival of Europeans.


Correct. These two Osage members did research and wrote a book that questionably places their tribe in the cave. However, the cave drawings were done by the Mississippian people that would be related to the Cahokias, or another group in the Southern Ceremonial Complex. If anyone has claim to the cave it would be the Illini confederacy who were enemies of the Osage, and the Illinis were probably not even descendents or diaspora of the Mississippians either.

There is nothing Osage about this cave. The Osage have even stated as such previously when they gained possession of Sugar Loaf Mound in STL. They said that they are the spiritual descendants of the mound builders but share no direct lineage. Same for the cave.

Their possession of Sugarloaf has left it gated for 11 years with almost no renovation done and no opening of a interpretive center. It should go to the Cahokia Mound Museum Society as an extention of the Cahokia Complex.

These two people are not speaking on behalf of the Osage but drumming up press for their book.

edit:sorry there is no lawsuit.


I’m sure that there may well be at some point.

Thank you for sharing some of your knowledge about this. Can you recommend a good source on pre-colonial America? Something broad-strokes and entry level.


For an idea of how this can play out inside the tribal social/political/cultural structure, our Anthro department found itself in the middle of a fight over some Native American artifacts, legally dug with permission from the Feds and what was thought to be the Native American group with a claim to the land.

Soon enough another group of Native Americans (different branch of the same nation) came in and said “that other group is not the true group, we are, give us those artifacts.” The first group responded with “do not give those up, we’ve entrusted you with helping us uncover our heritage.”

Soon enough they were suing each other with abandon, and our good-faith archaeologists caught in the middle. We dumped the collection as soon as we were legally able to put it into capable and legal hands.

ETA to add “/political/cultural”


This isn’t exactly what you are asking for, but Facing East From Indian Country is an account of European arrival told, as best one can given the records, from the perspective of the Native Americans. As far as I know it’s still the only academic book to do so. And it’s an easy read–he doesn’t write like a historian.


Thank you.


Hmmm - at the very least it should be a protected state park/monument (not sure on the legal entity).

Another idea is a tribal confederacy that protects artifacts. When you go back far enough in time, they belong to a distinctly unique culture that are the predecessors of modern tribes - who may or may not be from that area. People used to migrate way more often.


You’re really gonna be flummoxed when you consider how confusing and shallow the colonial, territorial and later statehood/nationhood claims are.

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[Timothy R. Pauketat]

Cahokia: Ancient America’s Great City on the Mississippi (Penguin Library of American Indian History)

Specifically about the Mississippian culture that this cave is a part of. 100% percent a Mississippian site. While simultaneously being 0% a Osage site


Thank you


Meanwhile in Canada:

‘About damn time’: First Nation gets clean water after 24-year wait - The Guardian

Residents of a First Nations community in Canada, who were deprived of clean drinking water for nearly a quarter of a century, can now drink from their taps after a water treatment facility became fully operational earlier this week.

Shoal Lake 40, a community on the Manitoba-Ontario border, has been under drinking water advisory since 1997. …


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