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Snow on a Native American burial mound

Seven Spring or Indian Dance

Like all stories; the good, the bad, and the spooky, there is always a beginning. Nomadic Native Americans have inhabited this area as far back as 7,000 BC. Several sites from 1000-1700 AD have been identified in Meade County. Though the natives did not inhabitant the modern-day Brandenburg area. There were several locations inside Meade County that were viewed as sacred space. These places were home to ritual and rites. Thankfulness to the great spirit and lands that provided so abundantly. One of those spaces was a centralized meeting place for several nations. They would ride in boats down the river and then carry them to the sacred site following the streams. They would converge on a giant sandstone site. It jetting out of the wilderness, solid and over 100 yards long. The site had hillocks or mounds that sat on its edges. These are indicative of burial mounds. There are also several possible vigil points on the site. The seven springs that fed into the area could have been enough to sustain hundreds of gathering people. Cherokee of the area call the place “Seven Springs”. It is know more commonly to the people of Battletown as “Indian Dance”.

The last that anyone has spoke of seeing “Indian Dance” was in September of 1996. An article from the Meade County Messenger written by Frank Morris speaks of this sacred site. Morris originally came to Meade County in 1951. He began the story in his 1996 article, “Thirty-five years ago a ninety-year old man told me that there was a place in the woods near Battletown where the Indians used to gather. He said that it was a clear flat area and he thought they played games there and danced.” Morris did not bring this up again until the late 90’s. He stated, “Sometimes memory of a vital part of history hangs on the thinnest of threads.” He apprehensively started a conversation with two individuals that were live-long residents of Battletown. The two of them acknowledged the story and told him that he was speaking of “Indian Dance”. The two did not provide the location so Morris turned to the local General Store to inquire further. Morris tells the story in his Messenger article, “I preceded to Hockman’s general store and asked loudly: ‘Does anyone here know
where Indian Dance is?’ One guy looked at me and said: “What do you know about Indian Dance?” I told him and he gave me the location.”

Here is how Morris describes what himself and his wife found: “We explored. Right in the middle of the woods there is a strange sandstone mesa – almost the size of a football field, about thirty yards wide by maybe 110 yards long. It is as clean as a whistle-mostly, though mere are several small hillocks which don’t seem to belong on its edges. Immediately to the east of the field there is a solitary tall hill with three immense sandstone projections (each about the size of a car). About 70 yards to the west there is another hill that has a strange indentation in it on the south side. Both hills could serve as vigil points. We nosed around. Four large springs are beside the field with sufficient water pouring forth enough for water and cooking for six hundred people easily. Wind would not affect the playing field or dance floor. There is plenty of surrounding space where people could watch, tent, cook, and talk. I was still puzzled. Of course, we saw that there would be plenty of water for any gathering – something that was critical prior to the days of wells. Sure, I could see that this was
a strange geological event out in the middle of the woods. What bothered me, though, was why Native Americans would meet way out here. An idea possessed me and I got out the Meade County map. Everyone knows that Indians lived for thousands of years in the river valleys where they had water, fish, shellfish, transportation, flint deposits, and could grow corn. In this area they lived Brandenburg, Crosier bottom, Paradise Valley, Big Bend, Wolf Creek, Little Bend and Concordia. I started drawing lines across my map from each of those locations to Indian Dance. It is startling. Four land miles from Crosier bottom, Paradise Valley, and Wolf Creek. Twelve land miles from Brandenburg through the woods, two miles if they went in canoes to a landing at Oolite. It is about seven land miles from Big and Little Bends and Concordia.” Morris painted a picture in his mind, bringing the ancient past back to life. “I think Indian Dance is the most natural place in the woods I have ever seen for a gathering. Furthermore, there is a buffalo trace running from Brandenburg to Wolf Creek close by. I also know of a spot in the woods a mile away where the buffalo rolled on the side of a bank in soft shale In my mind I visualize elders on the top of die sandstone outcropping. I find it easy to imagine games being played on the stone mesa and, in the evening, I sense grand dances. I see trading of arrowheads, stone axes and leathers. I see women sharing recipes I create a mental graphic of young men and women from neighboring areas meeting each other at the secret place in the woods.”

Morris’ theories of this location were also backed-up by Dr. Pat Munson of the Indiana University anthropology department and Sam Frushour from the National Geological Survey. They determined that the Meade County area flint, has been found in archaeological sites in Ohio and New York dating back ten thousand years. They also stated that other artifacts from this area have been found from northern Wisconsin to northern Louisiana and New York to Ontario. This would speculate that natives from this time did extensive trading and river travel. Morris also theorized that the first major industry was started by the natives.

The last mention of Indian Dance is in a follow up article in the Sept. 4, 1996 issue of the Messenger. Extensive research has found no location of Indian Dance. Even Hockman’s General Store where he was told the location no longer exists. Morris sums up this mystery best in his closing lines from his April 17 article, “true history of Indians in Meade County is incredibly sparse. There are a few words in books, a lot of stone tools, and the grand heritage of golden corn. Only pieces of history, and yet, they lived here for twelve thousand years! We’ve only been here a scant two hundred and twenty. History sometimes hangs by a thread; we have to piece the cloth. I leave you with this, though: Indian Dance is there in the woods. My wife and I saw it.”

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