Prairie Dock, Giants in the Sun

Shawnee Mother and Child – 18th Century

In the early to mid-18th century the Ohio Valley was primarily inhabited by the  Shawnee, Miami, Delaware and Wyandotte people. At that time, towering forests and open prairies covered the land. Native Americans often burned the prairies to open areas in order to attract bison, elk and other game and make them easier to hunt.

One of the most interesting flowers in the area was the Prairie Dock (Silphium Terebinthinaceum). This remarkable plant could grow 3 to 10 feet tall by late summer. Its unusual appearance made it look like a refugee from the Stone Age when Mastodons and other immense creatures roamed the North American prairies.  The drought resistant Prairie Dock was nearly indestructible except for the bison that loved to eat its rough foliage and stems.

To this small Shawnee child, the Prairie Docks must have seemed like giants in the sun.

30 x 15 Oil