Discovery of native American shell heap on Treadwell’s Island, 1882

Early in September 1882, Mr I. J. Potter, owner and publisher of the Ipswich Chronicle, called the attention of the officers of the Peabody Academy of Science to a shell heap which he had observed on the shore of Ipswich River on Treadwell’s Island, formerly known as Perkins Island. In one spot at the depth of two feet in the clam shells and debris, nearly two quarts of human bones were found broken into short pieces.

The article concluded that the Indians had practiced ritual cannibalism, but Mary Ellen Lepionka disagrees: “New England Algonquians did not at any time practice ritual cannibalism. The charge of cannibalism occurs in colonial period war justification narratives. There is no reliable evidence in the description that supports the assertion of cannibalism.”

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