Rocheport Historian Monett Lite's brief synopsis of one of Rocheport's most famous artifacts. Her article is part of a book written in 1992 entitled "Rocheport Memories" available at the Friends of Rocheport Museum or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Gregory C. K., editor
Illustrations 1881, Teubner
by Monett Lite
Long before the white man set foot on the abundant lands of Missouri, the Sacs, Foxes, Kickapoos and Potawatamies maintained a reverent existence along the Moniteau Creek and Missouri River. The Indians* called the creek "Manito" or "Creek of the Great Spirit." The waterways afforded the Indians a comfortable lifestyle with plenty of wild came and a means of travel. They buried their dead upon the bluff next to the "Manito" for safekeeping and painted hieroglyphics on the bluffs to demonstrate their faith.
John Bradbury, naturalist, in his journal of a voyage up the Missouri River in 1810, mentioned the "Manito" rocks in the Rocheport area and explained that the Indians often applied the word "Manito" to unusual manifestations of nature which they highly venerated. He described the primitive red-keel Indian paintings on the bluffs as representations of deer, buffalo and other animals.
Maximilian, Prince of Wied, traveling up the Missouri River in 1833, noted many red figures on the bluff among which was that of a man*** with uplifted arms.
The Lewis and Clark expedition in 1804 opened westward expansion of the white man. By 1815, the Indians signed treaties relinquishing all rights to their lands north of the Missouri River. As the Indians moved south of the Missouri River and later west to Indian Territories, signs of their existence diminished. In 1892, the sacred burial grounds were destroyed. Indian bones were dumped into the Missouri River. The pictographs were blasted by dynamite and lost, all to accommodate the expansion of the M.K.T. Railroad. A few examples of the pictographs remained as late as the 1950s. Now weathered away, all that remains are an occasional arrowhead and the "Great Spirit" of the Moniteau Creek.
* archaic., derr., slang. current synonymn Native American
** Red Keel a.k.a. Red Ochre, an earth pigment common to clay soil. Orange-red in color, ancient and versitile it can be made into a primitive chalky pencil (Tom Sawyer uses Ochre to write on a pine shingle in moonlight), a non-toxic stain or dye, or refined and dissolved into industrial pigments.
*** Illustrations below depict females, they are taken from a different panel than the one mentioned in the book.