- Associated Press - Friday, July 4, 2014

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) - Some archaeologists dig to find clues to the past, but retired Mount Vernon High School teacher Jerry King amassed an impressive collection of Native American artifacts just by walking the fields of Posey County.

He recently donated much of that collection to the Indiana State Museum, which plans to put it on display.

“It’s a very large portion of his collection. It’s really pretty substantial,” Michele Greenan, museum director of archaeology, told the Evansville Courier & Press (http://bit.ly/TTNiUB ).

However, there will be a sneak peek at selected items from the collection on display at Angel Mounds State Historic Site through Sept. 26.

The artifacts came from a mound-building people referred to as belonging to the Hopewell culture - a loosely associated set of Native American societies in the Midwest and Northeast connected by a complex trade network and similar cultures.

“This was about 100 to 500 AD,” Greenan said. “This civilization developed at the height of the mound builders.”

That makes them hundreds of years older than people of the Mississippian culture who lived at Angel Mounds.

Greenan said it isn’t just the size of King’s artifact collection but its quality that makes it so impressive.

The 10 pieces she chose to go on display at Angel Mounds this summer represent items of personal adornment and meaning that might give glimpses into the lives of the people who once possessed them.

Among them are intricate ceramic figurines, a bead, hair pins carved from deep green soapstone, a ceramic hair spool and great white shark tooth perforated for wearing as a bead.

The shark tooth is evidence of their extensive trading, Greenan said, but what she loves the most are the figurines - one of which depicts a man in the style of headgear they wore at the time.

“What I love about the figurines are that when people look at this it’s not what they are used to seeing. It’s going to be a big ‘aha!’ moment for other Hoosiers,” she said.

The King collection will come to the state museum in Indianapolis for research and eventual display, Greenan said.

“I really appreciate their interest in my collection and in helping me get my collection over to the state,” King said.

He took an interest in Native Americans in grade school after reading a book about Chief Blackhawk.

Soon after that, King said, he found his first arrowhead in a pasture on one of his father’s farms.

King scoured pastures and creek banks collecting rocks, fossils and artifacts.

“Indian artifacts are everywhere (in Posey County),” he said.

Some of them came from the farm of his uncle, Paul Mann, whose Posey County property (the Mann Site) has been recognized as a significant Hopewell site where archaeologists have recovered important artifacts.

Back then, King said, looking for arrowheads was something to do during family gatherings at his uncle’s farm.

“I washed them up, cataloged them, rebuilt them,” he said.

His finds included projectile points of all kinds, pottery shards and clay effigies of people, animals and birds.

As his collection grew, so did his desire to preserve it for future generations.

“My goal is to continue the education our Native American heritage,” King said.

While he gave much of his better artifacts to the state, King said he held back some in hopes that it will one day find a home for public display in Posey County.

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Information from: Evansville Courier & Press, http://www.courierpress.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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