Linkedin: Posted on www.linkedin.com
June 8, 2017 | Revised: August 19, 2020
While researching the Native American sites for illustrations, I was doing for Gregory Little’s new book, Native American Mounds in Alabama: An Illustrated Guide to Public Sites, it occurred to me it would be fun to create an interactive 360 view for the web. Gregory Little’s The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Native American Indian Mounds & Earthworks was a good resource, showing earthworks and Native American sites throughout the United States. The idea for the 360 view happened when I was using Google Maps and Google Earth to get a better idea of the locations and surrounding geography.
My graphic is based on the Buttahatchee River Mounds near Hamilton, Alabama. When using Google Maps, I saw photos posted under Chickasaw Indian mounds of people enjoying a swim in the river. It brought the site to life.
The next step was drawing the line work with Pigma Micron pens on Bristol board. The ink drawings were scanned and opened in Photoshop along with scans of parchment and other textured papers. I tried several different gradients for the water, added hints of color to the landscape, and used a custom brush created in Photoshop for the sky. I later added the mythological characters in the water and sky. While researching the mounds, I read The Southeastern Indians by Charles Hudson from University of Tennessee Press. He calls the Uktena (in the sky) and water panther "anomalous" creatures. I took a little liberty. Mr. Hudson described the water panther as having a fish tail. I could not find a resource for the tail so drew my own. These images were adapted from shell artifacts. The Mississippian Native Americans of the Southeast created elegant shell drinking cups and gorgets (objects that were worn around the throat for ceremonial purposes). They also used shells to temper clay for pottery.
The challenge with any web project is finding a solution that works with all browsers and smartphones. I tried four different free solutions. Here is my experience with each. Since I wrote this article the techiniques may have changed.
The Mississippian Native Americans of the Southeast have been overlooked by history. I hope more research can be done to learn about these people and how they adapted to their environment.