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Published: Friday, 5/17/2013 - Updated: 2 years ago

Native American pipe is Ohio's official state artifact


COLUMBUS — The Adena Pipe, carved in stone in the shape of a man more than 2,000 years ago, was discovered in 1901 in the left hand of a man buried in an excavated mound in Chillicothe.

Now the Native American pipe is the official state artifact thanks to a bill that was championed by private school students and signed into law Thursday by Gov. John Kasich.

Given their legislative success, Mr. Kasich promptly sought to enlist the help of the students at the Catholic School of Girls in Bexley.

“Now I want to see if I can recruit you to help me pass Ohio’s severance tax and the Medicaid expansion,” he told the students. “Can you help me? You’ll have to register as lobbyists.”

He was referring to his so-far unsuccessful attempt to convince fellow Republicans in the General Assembly to back his proposals to hike in the tax on shale oil and natural gas drilling to help underwrite an income-tax cut and to partner with the federal government to expand eligibility for the health insurance of last resort for the poor, disabled, and infirm.

The Adena pipe got its name because it was found on the former grounds of Adena, the estate of Ohio’s sixth governor, Thomas Worthington. It depicts a man wearing large ear spools and a loincloth with what appears to be a serpent on the front and feathers on the back, which some have suggested may represent the below and above worlds, respectively.

The discovery was lauded in 1904 at the World’s Fair in St. Louis and then at the 1907 Jamestown Exposition. More than a century later, its crowning as the official state artifact was championed by school students in the Columbus suburb of Bexley.

Students at the Columbus School of Girls took it on a class project. It took a couple of tries to see it pass, but ultimately they had better luck than Mr. Kasich did when, as a young state senator, he tried to pass a bill on behalf of students in his district to make the box turtle as the state’s official reptile.

“The black racer (snake) beat the box turtle, I’m sad to say,” he said.

When the students were asked what they learned, fourth-grader Ally Werstler said, “You have to be very, very, very patient.”

“You can put another ‘very’ on that,” Mr. Kasich said.

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.

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