25th Annual Fort Ancient Celebration: A Gathering of Four Directions

Fort Ancient Pow Wow, was informative and soul-stirring.

Last Saturday, June 13, Mark and I attended the 25th Annual Fort Ancient Celebration: A Gathering of Four Directions, sometimes referred to as the Fort Ancient Pow Wow, with our photo group—Scoot and Shoot.


It was a two-day event filled with activities and demonstrations like talks about Herbs, a Dream Catcher Workshop, and Women’s Drum Demonstration:Struck by Lightning.

Vendors sold handmade crafts.

I bought a little pouch, like those hanging in the background, to carry my cell around when I am without pockets.

Two food trucks sold some traditional food, and not-so-traditional, food.

Frybread was a big item on the menu. I tried some with cinnamon and sugar and it reminded me a little of a thick, soft, cinnamon funnel cake. It was tasty, and no doubt fattening, which brings me to my next point.

I was given a short history lesson about frybread by the owner of the food truck I visited. When the US government forced the Indians to relocate to New Mexico, where their traditional crops of vegetables and beans wouldn’t grow, they gave them canned goods and the ingredients to make frybread: white flour, processed sugar and lard. By today’s standards, we all know how poorly this serves as nutrition.

“Frybread is revered by some as a symbol of Native pride and unity,” but it is also “ blamed for contributing to high levels of diabetes and obesity on reservations,” (Fry Bread, Inc). The Fry Bread link is interesting and worth a quick visit.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGenerally, I like to take candid photos, following the implicit rule that if you are in a public place, you are fair game to be photographed. If I want to sell a photo I’ve taken of someone, however, I have to have signed permission. As a sign of respect, at this event, we were requested to ask permission before taking a photograph. We were granted permission to take photos of the Grand Entry with exception of a few particular times that included the veterans’ flag and honor songs.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis dancer is waiting for the festivities to begin.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Grand Entry was largely a parade of participants who entered the arena accompanied by live music. I found it to be meditative and soul-stirring.

I spoke with the woman in front, in this photo, who told me she is 50% Native, but when she is not attending special events, she lives as the rest of us do. She is the mother of the young man with the long head dress in the above picture. The head dress was a gift from her. She is proud and happy that her son chooses to participate and honor his native heritage.

 This tiny dancer captured my heart. I also photographed another young girl, a little older than this one, who I overheard was participating for the first time. I snapped a shot of her as she was lining up for the Grand Entry. She was standing, very attentive and solemn, beside a woman who was teaching her what to do. I neglected to ask for permission before I captured that moment, so I am not sharing it here.


Fort Ancient, the site of the gathering is located in Warren County, Ohio, on a plateau above the Little Miami River. It is a prehistoric site built during the Hopewell Culture from 100 BC to 500 AD and consists of earthen walls and mounds built and used by prehistoric people to mark the movements of the sun and moon. Fort Ancient was primarily used for ceremonial and social gatherings on certain days of the year, as identified by solar and lunar movements.

“Today the structure is considered to be the largest and best preserved prehistoric Indian enclosure in North America,” (Ohio.com, Celebration a Gathering of the Four Directions).

The people who built Fort Ancient mounds were of the Hopewell Culture, not a specific tribe. Beginning around 200 B.C. archaeaologists noted a new Native American culture developing and spreading throughout the Midwest. They named the culture Hopewell. Tribes that identified as being part of the Hopewell culture had an agricultural lifestyle and complex trading system and tended to reside near major waterways. In Ohio, the Hopewell culture in strong in the Ohio Valley, the Scioto Valley, and the Miami Valley, (Ohio History Central, Hopewell Culture).

According to Indian Country Today, The Native earthworks in Ohio: in Newark; Serpent Mound, in Peebles; Fort Ancient, in Lebanon; and Hopewell Culture National Historical Park/Mound City, in Chillicothe—are being considered for UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites,”  (Indian Country Today, Ohio’s Magnificent Earthworks – an Ancient Astronomical Wonder).

You can read more about how the earthworks were made and function here: Ohio Earthworks.

“Tis the season

You probably thought I gave up, or forgot about all of you. Not so. Just re-evaluating what I want to be when I grow up, and whether writing continues to have a role in my life.

Two years ago, at the beginning of this month, the challenges with my parents, as Mom tried to take care of Dad and Dad continued to decline with Alzheimers, jolted into high-gear-crisis-mode and we were on a speeding course of doctor’s appointments, hospital stays, and so forth, that led to both of their deaths by the end of January. The only good thing I can say about all of that is that it is over. And I will never have to go through that particular trauma of losing my parents again. Gratitude.

I also think that because of all the events that occurred during this Holiday month of family celebrations, December will always be bittersweet for me. It might have felt that way anyway. Holidays can be difficult for many people for many reasons. There are plenty of Christmas songs out there to remind us. But I do not feel the pain this year, more a quiet peace and contemplation with a few tears thrown in here and there. Sometimes it seems like Mom and Dad have been gone forever. And sometimes I am back in the Hospice room with Mom like it was yesterday.

Maybe this dichotomy of joy and sorrow that I find so inherent in the Christmas season is a lesson. Perhaps it is a reminder that this is what our lives here on this planet are about, learning to have joy in the presence of the inevitable sorrow.

Hoping you find the joy this holiday season.

Shillitos Christmas window display in Mariemont - a Scoot and Shoot event.
Shillitos Christmas window display in Mariemont – a Scoot and Shoot event.

Roller Girls – a Scoot and Shoot event

On the evening of May 10th, Scoot and Shoot visited the Roller Derby at Cincinnati Gardens. This was a particularly challenging photographing venue. There was low light and high action. I used a high ISO from 1600 to 3200, and had my lens wide open at an f-stop of 5.4. In some cases I tried to pan with the jammer. Mostly, I wanted to share with you the excitement of the Cincinnati Roller Girls.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _01

The names alone will make you wonder—Cherry Choke, Cincy Psycho, Candy Kickass, or Hannah Barbaric. Rough and tough names for a rough and tough sport.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _02Some of them come dressed to kill in flashy colors,

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _03sparkly shorts,

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _04tiger prints in florescent green,

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _05or stripes.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _06Many are decorated with tattoos.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _07Their clothes sometimes take a beating.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _10 I’d never been to a roller derby before. I always thought of it as a rough race. But now I know more. The woman above is a jammer for the Cincinnati JV or Varsity “B” team, the Violent Lambs. The jammer for each team is the only person who can score points, and she does it by passing opposing team members.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _12The rest of the skaters make up the pack. They try to block the opposing jammer. The game is played in 2-minute jams started by a whistle.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _13The jammers start each jam behind the pack. The first jammer to get through the blockers is awarded the lead jammer. The lead jammer can decide to end the jam before the 2 minutes are up if it is to her team’s advantage to do so.Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _14Once the jammers have made it through the pack, they skate quickly around the rink and then they each begin to score a point for every opposing skater they pass in a lap, including the opposing jammer and penalized skaters who are sitting on the bench. (I’m not sure what actions result in penalties, or time-outs, but they happen quite regularly.) The refs skate around in the middle of the rink, call out  penalties, and keep track of the points each jammer earns.Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _15The jammer’s teammates not only try to block the opposing jammer from passing, but also set up blocking to help their own jammer get through.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _16Because of all the blocking and pushing, the game gets a little rough at times.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _17Blockers often try to push the jammer out of bounds. When that happens the jammer has to go to the back of the group and try again. Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _18Unlike my previous, uneducated impression, roller derbies are not just rough free-for-alls. The young women care about the game and how their team is doing.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _19Here two jammers are going against each other. If the lead jammer falls behind, she can stop the jam so that her opponent does not score any more points.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _20Here a blocker is trying to prevent the jammer from passing.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _21This jammer has decided to end the jam. Her signal to the refs is raising her bent arms up and down. The ref blows the whistle; the skaters stop. And a new jam begins. Usually, (perhaps always) a new team of skaters takes over each time the jam ends.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _23This jammer has broken through the blockers who turn to try to help their own jammer through.Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _24Often the jammers are the smallest skaters. If they can’t push their way through, they can sometimes squeeze through small openings and at times jump over obstructions. Maneuverability is important in a jammer.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _25It’s an intense sport.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _26The women play hard.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _27A group of blockers tries to hold the line.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _28An individual blocker tries to obstruct the jammer.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _29Players get knocked down.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _30

Players get hurt.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _32The action is fast.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _33Hearts and souls are in the game.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _34They give it all they’ve got.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _35They want to win.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _36They push ahead.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _37They stand their ground.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _38They plan their strategies, play their hardest, and strive to win. They are competitors.

Roller Derby 2014-05-10- _39They are women.

Zoo blooms – a Scoot and Shoot event


Zoo blooms at Cincinnati Zoo – April 23, 2014

Walk a while among the tulips,


where a single bloom can be perfection.

White-faced Scops Owl from Africa. Three years old and full-grown.

See nature in all it’s majesty and intrigue.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATawny Frog Mouth from Australia OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAimitates the bark of a tree

See nature in all its glory.


One gorilla hides behind a tree.


The other stands for all to see.


A perfect pair of lions stand side by side.


And a polar bear follows his nose with a smile.


Celebrate spring.


Celebrate life in all its design.


Celebrate life in all its humor.


Celebrate a pile of sand that arrives today.


Life is beautiful. Life is good.


Live it.


See more Scoot and Shoot posts here.


The animals at Conner Prairie – a scoot and shoot event

Conner Prairie is an Interactive History Park in Fishers, Indiana, about 25 minutes north of Indianapolis.


It is a Smithsonian Institution Affiliations Program. I never realized such a thing existed. Live and learn—which is the idea, I suppose.


Conner Prairie has a welcome center, a nature walk and five main areas: the 1863 Civil War Journey based on the Raid on Indiana, an 1836 Prairietown, the Conner Homestead, the Lenape Indian Camp, and an 1859 Balloon Voyage. It probably goes without saying that this little guy was standing guard in the Civil War Journey. He looked familiar. I wondered if he accompanied Lincoln the day he came to town.


And this handmade canoe was part of the Indian Village. I stopped by there briefly. A young man who couldn’t have been a day over eleven was hefting a tomahawk over his shoulder getting ready to throw it at a target. The target area was roped off, but the spectators were fairly close to the young man’s backside. I didn’t want to be around in the unfortunate event of a backstroke misfire that sent the tomahawk (probably just an axe, really) sailing towards the crowd (or two or three parents and siblings who were watching.)


This little blue wheelbarrow was loaded with hay, just waiting for a small person to come along and interact with it.


The larger blue wagon made a nice lawn ornament.


What would an interactive park be without a petting zoo, or in this case, barn? Isn’t this little girl adorable? I watched her drum up the courage to get close enough to touch the goat, that outsized her by quite a bit. The goat was a patient and tolerant participant, as you can tell by the look on his face.


This little calf was also working at the petting zoo, although I must have caught her at break time.


Even the human animals needed to find a place to rest their back and take a quick break every now and then.


Some of their work was quite challenging.


These pigs were working hard digging a big pit in their pen. I’m not sure why.


And the chicken was standing on the rail keeping an eye on things. Probably a fairly boring job, but somebody had to do it.


It’s more fun to strut around the yard looking important, I imagine.


This blacksmith really was working hard. He spent an awfully long time heating and hammering out a solitary nail. I’m not sure how the pioneers got anything done at this rate.


I really think these guys were just loafing around. I couldn’t see any useful purpose in their activity, unless it was their job to keep the grass trimmed. They were chewing on it quite deliberately.


Isn’t she a doll? I watched her try and try to pick this stick up. She finally got it. Sort of.


This goes without saying. But it illustrates a new and useful purpose for a picket fence.

We had a beautiful day at Conner Prairie. I hope we go back when the trees are in leaf. It will look like a whole new world then, I imagine.


See more Scoot and Shoot posts here.

Springboro, Ohio – on the route to freedom

A Scoot and Shoot event.

Being located on the Ohio River just across the water from Kentucky, Cincinnati in particular, and Ohio in general were heavily engaged in the Underground Railroad and former slaves’ journeys to freedom. A small town just north of Cincinnati called Springboro was founded by a Quaker named Jonathon Wright in  1815. The Quakers abhorred slavery and Springboro became actively involved in the Underground Railroad. Quaker and non-Quaker residents of Springboro risked legal consequences from their illegal activity of aiding slaves on their way to freedom. Many of the homes and businesses of these courageous individuals are still standing on or near Main Street in the small downtown strip of Springboro, Ohio.

28-Springboro-2013-11-21- _42

Unfortunately, even though I had a brochure that described the various buildings, I am not able to match the exact buildings to the descriptions I have. We started the tour somewhere in the middle, later crossed the street, and ducked into the Wooly Bully Yarn Company at one point. Which, by the way, had an awesome selection of yarns. On these Scoot and Shoot events my companions are more interested in taking photographs than in writing journalistic reports. And sometimes I am too.

45-Springboro-2013-11-21- _81

At 200 South Main Street the Jonah Thomas House has a documented connection to the Underground Railroad.

17-Springboro-2013-11-21- _23

Jonah was a Quaker and a conductor on the Springboro leg of the Underground Railroad.

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I think this is the Joseph Stanton House at 250 South Main Street. According to the Springboro Chamber of Commerce brochure, “This building was a stop on the Underground Railroad which may have been known as the ‘Quilt House.’ Quilts hung in back of the house told runaway slaves it was safe to enter. The basement hiding space extended westward under what is now the side walk.”

I’m patting myself on the back that I was able to bring you two buildings that were involved in the Underground Railroad, but instead of trying to read illegible house numbers, or match my photos to small black and white thumbnails on the brochure, I’m just going to throw in a slide show of some of the buildings and details I saw along Main Street in Springboro. Perhaps you’ll take the walking tour someday if you find yourself in the area.

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I don’t know about you, but I have always been enthralled by the idea of an Underground Railroad. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center stands on the riverfront in downtown Cincinnati and teaches about not only the path to freedom through this area, but also about current locations where freedom is still out of reach. It’s worth a visit if you are in town. Maybe I’ll visit there with my camera, and a notebook, sometime soon and share my identified pictures with you.

Do you live where an interesting part of history took place?