I’ve been blissfully unconnected for the last week as we went camping in southwestern MN for the week of 4th of July. I was expecting the campsite to have free Wi Fi (naturally it didn’t work way back at our site,) and I was expecting my 4G phone would be a nice backup. Nope. Nothing. Occasionally we would pop into a coffee shop and my phone would light up as all the updates/notifications/missed calls/texts/emails came through but generally I was unreachable. It was wonderful. To be honest, I had purposefully not brought any homework as this was my first real break in about a year, but I was still hoping to keep up with reading blogs. Alas, that didn’t happen.
Anyway, I had wanted to really give myself a breather and wasn’t planning on doing any school work, but I found myself thinking about Making anyway. We visited two sites that while I didn’t plan on it, seemed to fit in perfectly with class. The first is a site nobody seems familiar with, but I’ve been wanting to see for years – Jeffers Petroglyphs. This is a site near Jackson, MN where you can go and see petroglyphs carved into the rock on the prairie. Some cool facts about Jeffers: the oldest carvings are estimated to be between 7,000-9,000 years old, and the newest are 150 years old. Which makes this site older than Stonehenge and the Pyramids, except it has been in continual use. It was considered a sacred site by the native peoples, and there is evidence that people traveled from all over to carve in these rocks. One particular carving of a dog was found at Jeffers and at a site in southern New Mexico and they are pretty sure it was carved by the same person. One of my favorite carvings was the oldest at the site, there are three Thunderbirds carved next to each other.
While there, we also saw a demonstration of an “atlatl” which is a device used for spear throwing, and pre-dates bows and arrows. There are several atlatls carved into the rocks, which show how important this tool was to ancient people.
The other site we went to was Pipestone, a site where sacred rock was and still is quarried and carved into pipes for use by Native Americans. Written evidence suggests that the quarries were being used in 1637, but it is likely they are even older. Like Jeffers, Pipestone is considered an extremely sacred place by Native Americans, and the stone quarried is considered sacred as well. One Native American likened it to a church and Bible.
During my visits to these places, I couldn’t help but make connections to this class, and how these ancient people were Makers, in their own way and their own purposes. They created, crafted, and shared knowledge. What’s more, they marked their accomplishments, with carvings or tools that could be viewed for years. What we’re doing isn’t that different from what ancient people did, just because we’re using PVC pipe or Arduinos. I think all of our texts talked about the “human nature” of making at some point or another. I really felt like these two sites were a great example of that, and made me feel like my Making was part of the human experience, and not just a part of a class. A great trip, all around.