Student Handout


Bird Gods? Fox Man? Long Tail?

Too Good to Myth!

The Poverty Point people made many unusual and interesting objects. Archaeologists are not certain about the meaning of these objects, but it is fun to imagine about them.

One of the most common images at Poverty Point is that of a bird. The largest mound at the site is called the Bird Mound because some people think that it has a bird shape. It may have been a place of ritual or worship because of its location and the earth ramp which is formed by the tail. Beads carved from red jasper are often in the shape of birds, mostly in the shape of little owls with big bellies. Animal claws, bird feet, and talons were also images carved into pendants and beads.

Fox Man

Long Tail

Other designs were carved on plummets used as weights for fishing. These are called the Fox Man and Long Tail designs. Some archaeologists call this design the Fox Man because it looks like a man with a fox head or hat. Others think that it is a horned owl. The Long Tail design may be a picture of an opossum. All of the animals represented in Poverty Point engravings are included in the legends of the Southeastern Indians who came later. In these stories, the animals are usually connected with death, witchcraft, early warning, news, and stories of the Indians' beginnings.

Pick a character and write a Poverty Point myth. A myth is a story whose main character is a being with super powers. The myth usually explains why something in nature happens, like why we have winter or why the moon changes shape during the month.

Jot down your ideas before you begin to write: