Ohio History Journal

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The prehistoric era of the Indians in North America is an

episode in the chronology of man in which Ohio and other por-

tions of the Mississippi Valley play an important role. It is in

these regions that some of the finest examples of Indian cultures

of that period are found. Among the many thousands of other

art objects found in the Ohio area the remnants of prehistoric

musical instruments are comparatively few, but they are of

sufficient variation and interest to make possible certain com-

parisons between these earlier and the later, though still primitive,

historic Indians of the Americas. There are evidences of a finished

art in highly developed centers, and thousands of artifacts bear

witness to an intelligent people whose greatest development is

placed by archaeologists within the past thousand years. Though

it is purely conjecture, yet the ceremonial rites and musical life

of these ancients, who, in pre-Columbian times, lived in Scioto,

Hamilton, Butler, Ross, Lake and Cuyahoga counties in Ohio, are

in some ways analogous to those of primitive historic Indians.

Musical expression has been inseparable from the life of

aborigines and one may assume that the instrumental noises

destined to become a part of the making of music are as old as

the most primitive man. Whether he has lived by the sea, in

the forests, mountains or plains, man has fashioned and used

instruments suitable to his need and to the performance of the

magic arts practised by his tribe. No little thing belonging to

beast, bird, fish or plant, not even rock itself, was overlooked that

could be utilized, first to provide for hunger and safety, and later

to satisfy the human instinct for the expression of some kind of

art. Natural objects were transformed into sound-producing

instruments that could express or accompany all human experi-

ences and emotions from birth to burial.