Aboriginal Native American Mica Mining
in Western North Carolina
Last Updated: September 5th, 2013
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Robert S. 'Bo' Smith, Painting by Jerry Newton (http://jerrynewtonpainting.com)
Digital Image by Kay Workman
This painting illustrates what Native
American mica mining might have looked like in Mitchell County in
western North Carolina during the Mid-Woodland Period
(300BC-500AD). It is based upon a story told by a local man and
considerable research which is described in detail in the "Back
Story and Research" and "2012"webpages. The lower right portion
painting depicts a mining tunnel discovered in the early 1950s.
Mining tools and pieces of mica were found on the floor near the back
wall mica vein. Mica from the Sink Hole Mine has been found in the form
of ornamental objects, in sheets of mica lining the inside of
"burial mounds" of the Hopewell Tradition Native Americans in Ohio, and
in caches of mica buried near the "mounds". We
have added the Native American miner in the mining site of the
miner represents two possible viewpoints; either that local Native
Americans were active traders with the Hopewell "Mound People" to the
north in Ohio or that the Hopewell came to the area, set up temporary
camps and did the mining themselves.
Archeological studies have been conducted in the past and may be
conducted in the future to determine which is more
likely. The earring is made of copper and is Hopewell in
origin. The loin cloth may or may not have been worn. The
ankle high single piece moccasins are typical of the Mid-Woodland
Period. The painting is mixed media consisting of acrylic, oil,
and natural materials. High quality Muscovite Mica and
highly weathered mica vein Feldspar and clay material from the Sink
mine have been used in the mine portion of the painting. The Elk
represents in increased
distribution of Elk into the southeast during the period.
The river represents the North Toe River which is located just to the
west of the mine site. The river flows south to north into
and would have provided an excellent mode of transportation of mica and
mining supplies back to Ohio during the fall. The percentage of
grass land and deciduous trees was probably dependent on the annual
amount of rainfall during the period. The observer can conclude
that the painting represents either that the trees are intruding in to
the grass land or receding.
to see a close up view of the mining section of the painting.
The painting is currently on display for
the public at the Yancey County Visitor's Center in Burnsville,
We intend to keep it at the
Yancey County Vistor's Center in Burnsville until further notice.
I plan to contact Dr. Rod Porter, Currator of the North Carolina
History Museum in Raleigh. NC about having the painting as part of an
The painting was officially presented to the public at the North
Carolina Gem and Mineral Show, Pineridge Center,
Spruce Pine, NC on August 3rd, 2013.
If you are interested in ordering a 17" X 17" high resolution
photograph of the painting and want
more information, email me at email@example.com.
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Website created by Robert S. "Bo"