“Golgothas” of the Mandans: Legacy of the Ohio Mound Builders



With evidence that the Mandan were in the Ohio Valley burying there dead in mounds, the Golgothas give valuable insight into Ohio Hopewell.
“Golgothas” of the Mandans: Legacy of the Ohio Mound Builders
   There are several of these golgothas, or circles of twenty or thirty feet in diameter, and in the center of each ring or circle is a little mound of three feet high, on which uniformly rest two buffalo skulls (a male and female), and in the center of the little mound is erected “a medicine pole,” of about twenty feet high, supporting many curious articles of mystery and superstition, which they supposedly have the power of guarding and protecting this sacred arrangement.
   Here, then, to this strange place do these people again resort to evince their further affections for the dead, not in groans and lamentations, however, for several years have cured the anguish, but fond affection and endearments are here renewed, and conversations are here held and cherished with the dead. Each one of these skulls is placed upon a bunch of wild sage, which has been pulled and placed under it. The wife knows, by some mark or resemblance, the skull of her husband or her child which lies in this group, and there seldom passes a day that she does not visit it with a dish of the best-cooked food that her wigwam affords, which she sets before the skull at night, and returns for the dish in the morning. As soon as it is discovered that the sage on which the skull rests is beginning to decay, the woman cuts a fresh bunch and places the skull carefully upon it, removing that which was under it.
   Independent of the above-named duties, which draw the women to this spot, they visit it from inclination and linger upon it to hold converse and company with the dead. There is scarcely an hour in a pleasant day but more or less of these women may be seen sitting or lying by the skull of their child or husband, talking to it in the most pleasant and endearing language that they can use (as they were wont to do in former days), and seemingly getting an answer back.