Front Matter Our Country Long Ago The Barbarous Indians The Mounds Where the Northmen Went The Northmen in America Queer Ideas Prince Henry the Navigator Youth of Columbus Columbus and the Queen "Land! Land!" Columbus and the Savages Home Again Columbus Ill-treated Death of Columbus How America Got its Name The Fountain of Youth "The Father of Waters" The French in Canada French and Spanish Quarrels The Sky City Around the World Nothing but Smoke Smith's Adventures The Jamestown Men Smith Wounded Pocahontas Visits England Hudson and the Indians The Mayflower Plymouth Rock The First Thanksgiving Snake Skin and Bullets The Beginning of Boston Stories of Two Ministers Williams and the Indians The Quakers The King-Killers King Phillip's War The Beginning of New York Penn and the Indians The Catholics in Maryland The Old Dominion Bacon's Rebellion A Journey Inland The Carolina Pirates Charter Oak Salem Witches Down the Mississippi La Salle's Adventures Indians on the Warpath Two Wars with the French Washington's Boyhood Washington's Journey Washington's First Battle Stories of Franklin Braddock's Defeat Wolfe at Quebec England and her Colonies The Stamp Tax The Anger of the Colonies The Boston Tea Party The Minutemen The Battle of Lexington Bunker Hill The Boston Boys The British leave Boston Declaration of Independence A Lady's Way of Helping Christmas Eve The Fight at Bennington Burgoyne's Surrender Winter at Valley Forge The Quaker Woman Putnam's Adventures Indian Cruelty Boone in Kentucky Famous Sea Fights The "Swamp Fox" The Poor Soldiers The Spy A Traitor's Death Two Unselfish Women Surrender of Cornwallis British Flag hauled down Washington's Farewell

Story of the Thirteen Colonies - Helene Guerber

The Mounds

Besides the savage Indians of the north and west, and the barbarous Indians of the east, there were also half-civilized Indians in the south of our country. They dwelt not only in what is now New Mexico and Arizona, but were also found in Mexico, Central America, and South America, as far down the map as Chile.

The southern Indians had learned how to build canals, so as to lead the water far away from the streams into dry and barren lands. When the ground had thus been watered, or irrigated, it became very fruitful, and they could grow all the grain and vegetables they needed.

The southern Indians lived together in huge fortresses, built of sun-dried bricks, called adobe. These fortresses were large houses five or six stories high, containing ever so many little rooms, each occupied by one family. Thus one house often sheltered two or three thousand people.

[Illustration] from Story of the Thirteen Colonies by Helene Guerber


Sometimes these Indians built their houses on the ledges of steep rocks, or canyons. Such houses were called cliff dwellings, and many remains of these queer homes are still found in the southwestern part of our country. The Indians who lived there were gentle, and not fond of fighting, but they built fortresses and cliff dwellings to defend themselves when attacked by the savage Indians

You see, the savage Indians did not grow any grain or vegetables, but they came down from the north to steal the provisions of the southern Indians. These, therefore, carried all their supplies into the cliff houses, which they built in such a way that it was almost impossible for an enemy to get in them.

The inhabitants themselves, however, easily went in and out by means of ladders, which led from story to story, or from ledge to ledge. Their houses had no doors down near the floor, but were entered by a hole in the roof.

In each of these fortresses there was a great cistern, full of water, and so large a supply of food that the Indians could stand a long siege. In times of danger they pulled all their ladders away up out of reach, and when their enemies tried to climb the steep cliffs or straight walls, they pelted them with stones and arrows, and thus drove them away.

[Illustration] from Story of the Thirteen Colonies by Helene Guerber

Wise men tell us that even before our country was occupied by the savage, barbarous, and half-civilized Indians, whose way of living has just been described, it had been inhabited by their ancestors or by an older race of men. We know they existed, because people have dug up their bones. These have been found principally inside huge earthen mounds of very queer shapes. The mounds were evidently built by those early inhabitants, who are hence known as the mound builders. Trees hundreds of years old now grow upon these mounds, which are found in most parts of the eastern Mississippi valley, especially in Ohio.

In one place you can see a big mound representing a snake one thousand feet long, his body lying in graceful curves along the ground.

This snake's mouth is wide open, and he looks as if trying to swallow an egg-shaped mound, which is one hundred and sixty-four feet long, and hence a pretty big mouthful. As this mound is so odd, it has been inclosed in a park, where it is to be kept just as it is, to remind people of the mound builders who lived here so long ago.

[Illustration] from Story of the Thirteen Colonies by Helene Guerber


No one now knows exactly why these queer mounds were made, but learned men have dug into about two thousand of them, and as they have generally found bones, stone arrowheads and axes, beads, mortars, hammers, tools for spinning and weaving, pottery, baskets, and coarse cloth, they think the mounds must have been intended principally as burying places. The beads found in them are very like those which the barbarous Indians called wampum and used as money. Indians wore these beads in strings around their necks, or wove them into belts, using beads of different colors to form very pretty patterns.