Native American Farming  

Birger Figurine; photograph by Michael Brohm; original artifact at the Illinois Transportation Archaeological Resarch Program, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Birger Figurine; photograph by Michael Brohm; original artifact at the Illinois Transportation Archaeological Resarch Program, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Date : Mississippian Period
Description : Mississippian statues provide a glimpse into their beliefs. For example, the Birger figurine, which was found on the edge of the Cahokia site in Madison County, depicts a woman kneeling on the back of a serpent that has a mouth filled with animal teeth. She wields a hoe in her right hand and appears to be cultivating the back of the serpent. The serpent's tail is growing up the back of the woman, where it turns into a vine filled with gourds or squash. Based on traditional and contemporary Native American beliefs, the serpent may be a spiritual being called the underwater monster, which is a symbol of fertility.
Photograph by Gary Andrashko, ISM photographer
ISM Collection


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