Photos courtesy of Glencoe Mansion
RADFORD – In observance of Native American Heritage Month, observed in November each year, Glencoe Mansion took some time to explore the Native Americans that lived where Radford is today:
Did you know Bisset Park was once home to a Native American village?
In 1974 and 1975, during the creation of the Park, a Native American village was excavated on the bank of the New River. The Trigg Site, named after the local family who owned the property, revealed that Native Americans occupied the village from the Archaic period (8000 BC-1800 BC) until the Historic period (1550 AD-1780 AD). Due to the location of the village, erosion had destroyed a portion of it, but the majority of site was still intact.
Recently we received a few questions about what Native American tribes lived at the Trigg Site. Archaeologists still have not identified which tribe or tribes inhabited the site due to the diverse origins of the artifacts, in addition to the lack of written historical information. However, these factors do reveal that Southwestern Virginia was a crossroads of Native American culture. Mississippian people entered the region from the south along the Tennessee River system. Ohio Valley people came down from the north along the New River, and other native people advanced north up the Roanoke River. Many of the Native American footpaths from the past are still in use today as major highways across Virginia.
What are some of the items that were found? The artifacts indicate goods were obtained from local and non-local sources. Local items included stone used to make projectile points and knives; clay ceramics such as pots and clay pipes; bone tools including fishhooks. Non-local items included shell materials from the coast of North Carolina, and glass and copper beads most likely obtained from English, Spanish, or other early explorers. These non-local items indicate the high level of trading and movement of the early inhabitants of the region.
Also very telling of the cultural life of the natives were the ceremonial and decorative objects found at the Trigg Site. Such decorative items included turtle shell cups, various kinds of beads, ceramic effigy pots, bone hairpins, bone needles, and game stones. Many of these items were discovered among the burials, which gives a sense of their cultural views toward death.
To learn more, please visit our permanent exhibit on the Trigg Site and the inhabitants of this village. You can visit the exhibit from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday and 1-4 p.m. Sunday.
In 1990, President of the United States George H. W. Bush declared the month of November as National American Indian Heritage Month, also referred to as Native American Heritage Month.