In the late 1800s prospectors discovered a large circular design made of
stones in the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming.
This new find was intriguing, especially since its nature was unknown.
Its discovery caught the attention of archaeologists who began
the task of unraveling its history.
After interviewing the local
Indians, the archeologists discovered that the stone circles were now called medicine wheels,
although their true origins were a mystery.
The name Medicine Wheel may seem strange, considering how modern
society thinks of medicine. To the Native Americans, medicine means spiritual
and mysterious. These wheels are an intricate part of their spirituality and
connection to the Earth and sky.
Medicine wheels are not the only circular stone remnants that have been
There are tens of thousands of stone circles that freckle the landscape of
Canada and Northwestern United States.
The majority of these circles are
tipi rings, stones arranged to hold down the sides of a tipi. So
what makes the medicine wheels unique and special, and is
there a way to distinguish them?
This answer is yes!
Many Medicine wheels have been found although few of them have been studied.
The medicine wheels that have been documented all seem to share at least
two of these dinstinct traits:
- They have a central stone cairn (large pile of rocks)
- They consist of one or more concentric stone circles
- They include spokes of stones radiating outward from a central point
Although all medicine wheels typically share these traits, they can be very
different from one another in overall design.
There can be different types of wheels with different styles of construction.
Some look like wagon wheels, some look like bull's-eyes,
and others are more abstract.