These are some notes and a few of the many sites I looked at as I was writing. I spent a few weeks researching the mid-archaic period prior to completing the book.
During the writing of The Boy Who Ran, I took a few liberties, borrowing some of the cultural aspects for the mid-archaic period Americans from their descendants, plains North American Indians, or Native Americans. I also took descriptions of mound technology from different areas of the country and slightly broadened the era I considered.
In the book, The Eldest Village is the place were The People returned in the fall to winter. It was never precisely geographically located in the story, although I thought of the place as being located in Ohio. We can’t really know a great deal about how the people actually lived during that era, except what we can glean from artifacts we find. I guess things about the culture and borrow some elements of culture from what I learned about how their distant descendants lived (some 6000 years later). But this story remains, first, a work of fiction, although I try to be consistent with what is known about The People and about what flora and fauna are native to North America.
In the story, The Eldest Village was where this group’s ancestors settled when they migrated from the far north. Remember that people probably migrated to North America around 12 thousand years ago, so their ancestors had been on the continent for quite a while already.
I deleted quite a lot of narration that further defined the lifestyle of The People for the sake of the story’s pace. For example, I originally described how other villages formed from this Eldest Village—a group (or village) would split off when the population grew too large, and this would create a related village. The people of this new village would leave the area to find a new place to call their home in some other region. Villages could be related, like cousins, yet their lifestyles might well be dramatically different from each other. For example, some of the “daughter villages”—meaning the people who left—settled near bodies of water, becoming lake people. Perhaps these people fished more than they hunted and even made boats. People from different villages could trade goods with their related villages, maybe swapping dried fish for bison and hides or even pottery, jewelry, or other tools and implements.
My guess is that, periodically, perhaps every five or seven years, people from many related villages might gather for a meeting or meetings. This would offer an opportunity to share stories, trade, and to find mates who were less closely related. Of course we don’t know for sure that such splits and meetings happened, but they seem a reasonable things for people to do. We would also expect villages to split up in an effort to prevent an area from being over-hunted or exploited for materials and it’s also reasonable that these people would want to stay in touch, to benefit from the advantages of a larger virtual village.
“The Cakes” The People used nuts and grains, ground with a stone mortar and pestle arrangement into a kind of flour, then baked on hot stones to form a kind of unleavened cake or bread. This provided the carbohydrates The People Needed and was eaten with other things, like fruit or pemmican.
Pemmican is a concentrated energy food that consists of dried meat, ground into small pieces then mixed with dried fruit and herbs and mixed with rendered fat. Pemmican can be cut into blocks or used to fill the intestines from animals, then twisted into links—like hotdogs—to make a convenient-to-carry concentrated energy food.
Dried Meat was derived from various animals, including bison, deer, bear, squirrel, rabbit, and other game. The meat is dried over low burning fires and the smoke from the fires both helps to preserve the meat and to keep insects away while it’s drying. Organs, like the stomach could be used as a water bladder.
Mounds or Lodges Homes were dug into the earth and the floors covered with woven mats of grass, then covered with earth and sod held up by wood and bone structures.
The Long Lodge: A gathering place for the community, essentially a mound large home, rectangular in shape and large enough for The People to gather together inside during bad weather.
Atlatl: This is a hunting weapon, is essentially a lever approximately the length of a hunter’s forearm, used to throw darts, which were larger than arrows but smaller and lighter than the thrusting spear. The Atlatl can also be made to throw stones to hunt birds. The atlatl and the short, lightweight spear or dart it throws, also both store energy during the throw by flexing. The hunter can fine-tune the degree of flex, both by selecting a specific dart, and by adjusting the atlatl itself, using a stone weight called a Bannerstone. The projectiles (darts) were like long arrows, much lighter than the spears hunters used to thrust into animals. The darts were equipped with stone points (flint or quartz or other similar stones) and the darts were fletched with feathers, like an arrow, to make it fly true. The bannerstone might have been carved into the shape of an animal as a hunting talisman.
Image and Italicized Text From Wikipedia:
An atlatl or spear-thrower is a tool that uses leverage to achieve greater velocity in dart-throwing, and includes a bearing surface which allows the user to temporarily store energy during the throw. It consists of a shaft with a cup or a spur, which may be integrated into the weapon or made separately and attached, in which the butt of the projectile, properly called a dart, rests. The atlatl is held in one hand, gripped near the end farthest from the cup. The dart is thrown by the action of the upper arm and wrist in combination with the atlatl as an extension of the throwing arm, adding significant force through increased angular momentum.
These are usually equipped with a weight, or bannerstone, which may be carved as well. The Atlatl allows the hunter to throw long darts, like oversized arrows, long distances and with speeds up to 100 MPH (165 KMP) . This was the weapon used for hunting before the bow and it’s used by The People in The Boy Who Ran
From some of the cave art of the period, it is possible that The People thought of animals and humans as different forms of spirits. The cave art shows people being transformed into animals, or the other way around. Cave art from that period was found recently.
Pemmican Recipe: Pemmican Recipe
The Mid-Archaic Period: Archaic Period 10,000 to 4000 years ago
Some Information on Deer Tracks
Deer tracks are briefly described in the book. Obviously, I didn’t want to turn the book into an exhaustive study of tracking, but understand that some people might be interested in reading more about this. I used several sources, some rather extensive, and some was consulting with an experienced hunter—one who had actually hunted with an Atlatl, and who agreed to review the technical information in the book. Here is a link or two on deer tracks, not one I used for the book, since that was done in 2011, but I searched for a couple of examples recently. In my own case, there are Mule Deer in my yard every day, bears about once or twice a week, and foxes and raccoons, and other critters. I live in the mountains of Colorado, in a small town of about 7600 people on the edge of Pike National Forest, and nearby to wildlife reserves. I’m surrounded by nature.