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Ancient Pipe May Soon Become Ohio State Artifact

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Ohio’s legislature has advanced a bill to establish the official state artifact: a 2,000-year old stone pipe, carved by prehistoric Native Americans. Ideastream’s Brian Bull reports:

Sunday, May 5, 2013 at 7:07 pm

Brad Lepper, Curator of Archaeology at the Ohio Historical Society, says the pipe was unearthed by the Society in 1901, in an old Native American burial site near the city of Chillicothe.

“It’s actually the oldest representation of a human we have in Ohio," says Lepper. "It’s a man, wearing a loincloth, it’s highly-decorated, it has a feather bustle on the back. His knees are bent, his mouth is open as if singing. And I believe it is a representation of an ancient ceremony that took place in Ohio, 2,000 years ago.”

The official state artifact bill has passed both houses of the legislature and is headed to Governor John Kasich’s desk, where it’s expected to be signed. That delights John Connolly, an Onondaga Indian working at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.

“It sounded like it’d be a really nice gesture on the part of the state of Ohio in terms of trying to get broader awareness and having the state recognize American Indians a little bit more, through the use of this artifact.”

Connolly learned that one state lawmaker got a few laughs by pretending to smoke a replica of the pipe, as the bill was discussed. He says it’s important to treat the pipe as a religious object.

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