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Indigenous Natives Explored

By Staff | Jul 5, 2017

Charlie Sebroski’s collection of tools used by the Indigenous People of the Ohio Valley. Sebroski found all of these in the Ohio Valley.

Charlie Sebroski has spent decades studying the native people of the Ohio Valley. He has the knowledge and tangible treasures to prove it.

On June 28, The Friends of the New Martinsville Library and their guests had the opportunity to tap into this wealth. Sebroski gave a special presentation, which included the opportunity to observe Sebroski’s collection of real-life ancient tools, created by those who walked the Ohio Valley’s hills and valleys, thousands of years ago.

Sebroski, though he might not have the official title, is every bit an archeologist of sorts.

He unearthed his first arrowhead years ago, when he was in seventh grade. Blood, sweat, tears, and, above all – patience and time – have earned Sebroski a collection that is breathtaking and priceless.

Sebroski’s passion for learning served him well, as he was a Special Education teacher for 16 years, and he then taught English for 16 years. Sebroski didn’t stray from teaching the Friends of the Library on Wednesday. He taught his captivated audience that the names of ancient native tribes were probably names given to the tribes – either by explorers or even enemies. Notably, “Apache” actually means enemy.

Charlie Sebroski discusses how these different pointed tools were used.

Tools used by tribes evolved over the various archeological periods, with the different cultures. Paleo people hunted mammoth, buffalo, and other large animals. Tools gathered from these periods are very large points, while hunting tools used from more recent periods would possess a smaller point. After the Paleo period, people did not hunt as many large animals. Later peoples hunted fish, possum, and deer. Sebroski also said that Paleo peoples were often nomadic, ancient peoples slowly evolved to the point of villages and cultures.

Speaking of tools, according to Sebroski, people often mistakenly refer to pointed tools as “arrowheads.” However, many times, these tools are not arrowheads. Bow and arrows were actually not used until around 1000 B.C. Tools with points were used for many different reasons. Points with serrations were used to rip the flesh more.

Regardless of what a tool was used for, it would be used again and again through resharpening. Native peoples were not wasteful.

Other finds Sebroski shared included pendants, pieces of pottery with geometric patterns, drill-like points, and even a pipe, which Sebroski feels was maybe traded to the Native Americans. It’s obvious Sebroski has traveled miles and spent years to acquire his admirable collection. He noted the overwhelming feeling that comes with holding a piece of history, knowing that the last person that held one of his finds was creating something for some sort of purpose.

However, Sebroski describes a sign he once saw on one of his journeys – “I’m not an owner, merely a caretaker.” Sebroski doesn’t feel this land is ours, and he feels an obligation to preserve the history of those before us. He said his collection will be passed on someday.

“I want people to see these things, and have some appreciation,” he said.