The native Wampanoag People had legends of small creatures who roamed the forests. They were said to be human-like, but standing only 2-3 feet tall. They were also said to be able to shapeshift into other creatures. They also were said to form a ball of light that would lure people deeper into the woods (the infamous spooklights phenomena). The wanderer would then be driven to their death over a cliff or some other calamity if not killed by these pukwudgies and their poisoned darts.
Some people today have claimed to follow the lights only to run into these wee creatures, get lost, or have an accident.
Nearly every region of the country reports some form of these wee folk. Out west, one mummy was touted as being one, the "Pedro Mountain Mummy," as it is termed. This was found in 1932 in the San Pedro Mountains in Wyoming.
It seems that tales of giants and little people both abound around the world by cultures that never met each other. That consistency is very relevant as to such people being a real true possibility and that even today they could continue to exist in hidden groups in the forests around the world.
One present-day urban legend involves the "melonheads" that I spoke about on the blog a few days past. Such things begin as a native legend and later are interpreted by settlers. Something similar is seen with trolls in Norway. They began as giant beings, and Christians turned them into wee folk in their telling.
In Tennessee in the 18th Century, wee folk were supposedly exhumed.
From the book The Natural and Aboriginal History of Tennessee by John Haywood (starting page 200 on reprint edition from Amazon):
Referred to as "pygmies," these skeletons were found buried in crypts just outside of Sparta, Tennessee in the County of White and reported in the Nashville Whig in June 1820.
These graves had many bodies, all of them quite small. Some of the crypts were as small as 18 inches by 12 inches. The first grave was 2 feet long and inside the small skeleton and its teeth had the researcher wondering if it was canine or monkey. He had them sent off to be examined.
They were buried with care in a stone crypt and had shells and urns with them. The bones were so old they crumbled quite easily. One skull the examiner held up was 5" across from side to side. Most individuals were from 18 inches to 2 feet 10 inches long. One find was a 5 foot 5 inch individual found with the smaller ones. The taller skeleton had a head that was longer, eyes much wider asunder, the forehead much higher above the eyebrows, and the under jaw measured one inch longer on each side than the smaller fellows. Atop the head of one skull had bright silver grey fine hairs.
There was great dissimilarity in skull shapes, the size and shape of the bones, and looked to belong to different tribes of people. Just 8 miles away, a 7-foot giant was found.
These finds were packaged and sent for examination in Nashville. The prevailing opinion was that they were not children. No 1 skull belonged to some carnivorous animal of the canine genus; but that the skull belonged on an adult person of small size, not much exceeding 3 feet in length. Cylindrical bones and teeth appeared canine. Others gave the same odd opinion.
Source: V.R. Pilapil, for example, asserts that the disputed Tennessee graves really did contain pygmy remains. Not only that, but he hypothesizes that the pygmies arrived in ancient times from southeast Asia, probably the Philippines, where today's diminutive Aetas live. To support his case, Pilapil recalls B. Fell's examination of the Tennessee skeletal material. Fell noted that: (1) The skull brain capacity was equivalent to only about 950 cubic centimeters, about the volume of a non-pygmy 7-yearold; (2) The teeth were completely developed and showed severe wear characteristic of mature individuals; and (3) The skulls were brachycephalic (flat-headed like dogs) with projecting jaws (like dog). Fell had, in fact, described skulls very much like those of today's adult Philippine Aetas. Another line of evidence adduced by Pilapil involved the traditions of British Columbia tribes, which recognized a tribe of very small people called the Et-nane. More significant is the oral history of the Cherokees, which mentions the existence of "little people" in eastern North America.
**Tomorrow's post "The Beast of Bladenburo"**