AN INDIAN MOUND. Wonderful Discovery Made in Washington. THREE SKELETONS EXHUMED. Relics From an Ancient Tomb to Be Exhibited at the World’s Fair in Chicago.
Correspondence Of The Mubsiso Call.
Sixteen miles southwest of Colville, Stevens County, Wash., stands a conical-shaped mound of earth which has been seen by many prospectors and other wayfarers, but as the minds of most of them have been fixed solely on their own urgent business affairs they have passed and repassed it for years without taking any interest whatever in the curious pile. I saw it for the first time ten days ago and at once decided to make an investigation.
The mound is situated in a small and perfectly level plain between a series of low, rolling hills. It rises to a height of thirty-five feet and is turned at the top like the small end of an egg. It is seventy-six feet in circumference at the base, and slopes gradually inward to the apex. The material of which it is constructed is a mixture of hard iron clay, adobe and shale. It seems very strange to me that although its existence has been known to scores of people for many years no one has hitherto taken the trouble to investigate its interior. It may be that those who have seen it and passed it by have thought it to be a mere freak of nature, turned into simoon by the whirling eddy of some bygone flood, but to me it showed plainly the handiwork of man, and for this reason, I determined to violate the sanctity of its silence.
I obtained picks, shovels, a crowbar, drills, and some cartridges from Douglas Blount, a prospector who lives in a rough log cabin, about four miles from the mound. I also secured the services of two half-civilized Siwash bucks, and on the following day we set to work on the east side of the pile. At first, the Indians were slightly affected by a superstitious fear, but as the work progressed they began to share my enthusiasm and eagerness to reach the interior.
After we had worked our way about four feet into the mound, making an excavation four feet by six feet high, we found the wall so hard that it was necessary to put in a blast. The charge was set, and three of us retreated to a safe distance to watch the result. Bang! went the blast, and fully one-third of the mound’s wall was blown to fragments.
The work of clearing away the debris consumed several hours, but when it was done, I was well repaid for my labor and expense. The aperture disclosed a circular-shaped chamber, the walls of which were smooth as glass and decorated with curious figures in vermillion red. Three human skeletons, partially covered with moldy skins of buffalo and bear, leaned in a squatting position against the wall on the west side, their faces turned to the east. The flesh that once covered these grayish-white bones had been long since turned to dust, and the skins were so badly decayed that the slightest touch caused them to break into fragments. The skeleton in the center was by far the largest of the three, and by close examination, I came to the conclusion that the trio must represent some great Indian chief and his two Kjoaws.
In front of the central figure stood a large earthen urn, or rather a pot, which was half-filled with queer-looking ornaments of various colored stones and arrowheads of bronze. There were also remains of three long bows, a leather quiver filled with arrows, and a narrow-bladed tomahawk of bronze.
When my two Indian assistants first beheld the three skeletons, they were stricken with superstitious terror
And ran several hundred yards from the mound, wildly waving their hands above their heads as they went and uttering unintelligible howls of fear and lamentation. I followed and finally induced them to stop their mad flight, but they would under no condition return to the mound. At last, I persuaded them to remain where they were while I returned to the mound for the relics which I had determined to carry with me at any cost. I secured the earthen pot, the stone creamer, arrow and arrowheads, and these are now on their way to Chicago where they can be seen in the Washington exhibit at the Columbian Exposition.
On closer examination of the three skeletons, with a view to their preservation, I found that the bones were so badly decayed that they would not stand the process of linking together. They crumbled to dust and ashes at my touch as if they had been calcined, and for that reason, I left them where I found them. I have informed several scientists who have made these things a study of my discovery, and I expect that through their investigation and examination of the mound, the skeletons, and the curious relics, some light will be thrown on the antiquity and history of this place of sepulcher. As for me, I am not a theorist; I can only state the facts as I have seen them.
J. A. Fisher, Spokane, February 1.
Source: The morning call. (San Francisco [Calif.]), 05 Feb. 1893. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress