Articles
AN INDIAN CONTACT PERIOD PIPE

During the time known as the Contact Period or AD 1600-1750, thousands of European immigrants moved into the upper Piedmont of North Carolina.  These English, Germans and Scotch-Irish families began pushing the natives out of their traditional living regions by killing them and/or bartering to them, for their land, many items the Indians had never seen.  These items included guns, iron axes and cooking pots, woven cloth, brass hawk bells,  thousands of small colored glass beads and clay smoking pipes.  The early Europeans had never seen tobacco or pipes until they arrived in the New World.   After experiencing the allure of the weed, they began making, as early as shortly after 1600,  multitudes of instruments for tobacco smoking. These were usually in their own simple styles and fashions and normally made of white or kaolin clay.  An untold number of these kaolin pipes were traded to the natives to the point that many of the Indians probably quit making their traditional ceramic and stone smoking pipes.  At least one individual, though, made a close copy of a European kaolin pipe but in the traditional native earthenware material.  It certainly qualifies as an Indian Contact Period pipe.
The natives living in what was to become the Piedmont of North Carolina in AD 1600, were of the Siouan ancestry.  The newly arriving Europeans gave each tribal unit a title based on their misunderstanding of the Indian words for every village group.  The designations that these Europeans came up with included Catawba, Saura or Sara, Saponi, Eno, Keyauwee, Occonecchi and Sissipahaw, to name only a few.  According to John Lawson and John Lederer, each of whom visited the NC natives in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, these village living Indians existed in a reasonably peaceful manner until the arrival of the Europeans.  The subsequent interactions, especially with the English,  brought to the natives fatal diseases, alcoholism from drinking rum, being kidnapped into slavery and general warfare - all of which decimated the Indian population.  Some estimates are that by AD 1700, the inhabitants of villages in the region had been reduced by 90% or more.  Towns, which probably, had native populations of more than 600 individuals in AD 1600, were reduced to 50 people by 1700.  But  a few of these remaining Indians continued growing tobacco plants and smoking the dried leaves in bartered white clay pipes, examples of which are shown below.
Some of the surviving natives, though, persisted making their stone knives and arrow tips and their sand and shell tempered pottery and ceramic smoking pipes.   In the region, now known as Surry County, NC, there is a place where the Mitchell River flows into the larger Yadkin River.  A short distance downriver and bordering  the Yadkin, is an ancient Indian village site.  Some years ago, an individual, while searching for arrowheads on this land, found the smoking pipe pictured here.  It is crushed quartz  tempered ceramics of the type used for eons by the natives in the region but it is shaped much like the kaolin pipes shown above, even including the spur beneath the bowl.  It is is much larger, however, than the typical white clay trade pipe being almost eight inches from the end of the stem to the top edge of the substantial bowl.  The European made kaolin type pipes generally had small bowls because tobacco was an expensive commodity for these individuals, especially in the seventeenth century, when this Indian pipe was probably made.  Therefore these immigrants could only afford small amounts of the nicotine laced plant to puff on in their pipes.  Since the natives could grow and smoke as much of the nightshade family tobacco as they wished, they made their pipes with larger bowls so as to hold more of the addictive golden leaf.  The very unusual and beautiful Indian made smoking instrument, shown here, could indeed be the only unbroken one in existence in this style, shape and especially with the large bowl size.  It is certainly the only such example ever seen by this writer out of the many hundreds he has seen and/or owned.  And it most definitely would be eligible to be known as a rare and delightful Indian made Contact Period pipe.
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