Friday, December 26, 2014

Native American Skies: Winter Solstice

The sky has been an important indicator of what is happening and what will happen on earth for ancient peoples all over the world for as long as man has possessed the curiosity to look up.  The movement of the sun across the horizon and back throughout the year, has been especially important as an indicator and predictor of the seasons.  On December 21st, 2014 the sun travelled as far south as it would go, rose for three days in the same place and then started its journey north again.  That day marked the “Winter Solstice” (“Solstice” means “sun standstill”), the day with the longest night and shortest day of the year.    The cultures of the Americas observed this very special day in many different ways, but for all, it was time of great portents.  For what if the sun decided to continue its journey south?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

White Buffalo, Part 7: Eastern Herds

On some of the early drafts of my novel, “The First Raven Mocker”, witch is book 1 of the “Cherokee Chronicles” series,  I was criticized for references to the ancient Cherokee using buffalo blankets.  Although, I am sure the Cherokee could have traded for buffalo hides,  the Woodland buffalo did thrive east of the Mississippi in pre-Columbian times.  In 1540, De Soto sent two soldiers to scout for gold in Cherokee territory.  They brought back a dressed buffalo skin, the first ever obtained by a white man.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

White Buffalo, Part 6: Hunting White Buffalo

In previous articles, I have mentioned that a true white buffalo happens only once every ten million births, according to the National Bison Association.  But, today, white buffalo are not nearly so rare.  According to Aaron Bulkley, owner of Texas Hunt Lodge, “There are multiple breeding ranches all over the U.S. that breed white buffalo.  If you breed a white buffalo to a white buffalo you will have a white buffalo.”  He estimates there are over fifty white buffalo throughout the country.  Not all of the white buffalo are “true”, some are the product of breeding with cattle.  However, regardless of breeding, white buffalo are still sacred to many Native Americans as was demonstrated recently when the Texas Hunt Lodge advertised a “White Buffalo hunt package “.

Friday, December 5, 2014

White Buffalo, Part 5: Lone Star

Lone Star with calf
A true white buffalo happens only once every ten million births, according to the National Bison Association, but many white buffalo in North America result from breading a buffalo with cattle (sometimes referred to as bison hybrid,  beefalo or cattalo). Breeding the buffalo with cattle has been a serious setback to wild American bison conservation. Most current bison herds are genetically polluted or partly crossbred with cattle leaving only four genetically unmixed American bison herds left.   One of these herds is kept at the Fort Worth Nature Center near Fort Worth, Texas.  The crossbred herd vary in type and color, depending on the breed of cattle used [e.g. Herefords and Charolais (beef cattle), Holsteins (dairy) or Brahman (humped cattle)].  Buffalo bred with Charolais cattle produce a much lighter colored calf sometimes almost white.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

White Buffalo, Part 4: Mystery of Lightning Medicine Cloud

Lightning Medicine Cloud with mother
May 12, 2011, Arby Little Soldier, owner of the Lakota Buffalo Ranch in east Texas discovered that one of his buffalo cows (dams) had given birth to a genuine white buffalo calf.  A few months later during a celebration drawing over 2,000 admirers, the calf was named Lightning Medicine Cloud.  The white calf  represented the return of White Buffalo Woman and her promise to bring hope and help to the people.  Arby Little Soldier announced,  “The spiritual message behind this buffalo today is the hope of all nations to come together …”

Friday, November 21, 2014

White Buffalo, Part 3: Mystery of Lightning Medicine Cloud

Lightning Medicine Cloud with mother
Lightning Medicine Cloud with mother
When a white buffalo was born before 1830, it was born in the wild, a gift from White Buffalo Woman as a sacred reminder of her promise to return to help the people.  The calf was sacred and a gift to all of the people.  Today, the closest thing to a wild buffalo is found in National Parks like Yellowstone.  When a white buffalo calf is born in captivity it can bring great notoriety to the owner but can also bring great tragedy.  Take the case of “Lightning Medicine Cloud” born on the Lakota Ranch near Dallas, Texas owned by Arby Little Soldier.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

White Buffalo, Part 2: History

The White Buffalo has been the most sacred living thing to the Plains Indians for over 2,000 years.  Itsee White Buffalo, Part 1: The Legend).  The white buffalo calf brings the promise of great blessings to those who respect and adopt the ways taught by White Buffalo Woman.  But, the calf can also bring a curse to those who ignore the signs and make the wrong choices.
symbolizes the promised return of White Buffalo Woman (

Thursday, November 6, 2014

White Buffalo, Part 1: The Legend

The fantastic author, Margaret Coel, has a new book out titled “Night of the White Buffalo“.  In the book, a white buffalo calf is born on a white couple’s ranch in the middle of the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming.  Just the idea prompted many thoughts and questions, so here are the results of my research on the subject.
Big-Medicine 1933-1959 National Bison Range
Big Medicine 1933-1959

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Great Sites, Part 6: Cherokee Crafts

TextilesThis week’s article is on Cherokee crafts from the 18th century explained and demonstrated at Diligwa Village at the Cherokee Heritage Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.  This reconstruction of an authentic Cherokee village from 1710 is a great site to visit to get a feel for how the Cherokee lived back then.  Many thanks to Feather Smith and Betty for their contributions.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Great Sites, Part 5: Cherokee Weapons and Games

This week we are going to explore the weapons and games used by the Cherokee in the 16th century based on the guide and demonstrators of Diligwa Village at the Cherokee Heritage Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Great Sites, Part 4: Cherokee Housing 1710

Osiyo.  In this segment, we are going to learn about Cherokee housing, circa 1710, at Diligwa Village at the Cherokee Heritage Center in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.  The village features representative housing, public buildings, ball and game fields, and crafts and weapon demonstrations.  When we visited, our guide was Feather Smith [watch a short video with Feather Smith explaining the housing].

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Great Sites, Part 3: Cherokee Heritage Center

Nestled in a thick forest, the Cherokee Heritage Center showcases Cherokee culture and history.   A short, pleasant drive brings you to the shady parking lot with the Cherokee National Museum to the left and the Diligwa–1710  Cherokee Village–to the right.   Three brick columns rise up from a beautiful fountain in front of the Museum to remind us that this was once the site of the Cherokee Female Seminary.  Your first stop is inside the Museum which houses The Trail of Tears exhibit, Trail of Tears Art Show, Museum Store, and Archives.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Great Sites, Part 2: Tahlequah

John Ross Museum
Tahlequah, Oklahoma, is the heart and capital of the Cherokee Nation.  Last week, I talked about our visit to the museums in the downtown area.  Southeast of downtown Tahlequah is the “Park Hill” area which has historically been the “cultural center” of the Cherokee Nation.  It was the area where John Ross (Principal Chief of the Cherokee during relocation era) and some members of his family chose to build their homes and the area where the Cherokee Female Seminary was built.  Many fine homes and prominent leaders also chose to build in the Park Hill area during the “golden era” after relocation and before the civil war.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Great Sites, Part 1: Tahlequah

To get a good feel for Cherokee culture and history, Tahlequah, Oklahoma, is a great place to visit.  It is located in the heart of “Green Country” and “Lake Country” in northeastern Oklahoma and is the capital of the Cherokee Nation and the Keetoowah Band of the Cherokee.  There are a number of historical museums and the Cherokee Heritage Center where a visitor can learn about the historical and pre-historical Cherokee.
IMG_4572We began our tour in downtown Tahlequah with the Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum built in 1844.  It is the oldest government building still standing in Oklahoma.  The museum features in addition to exhibits on the Cherokee judicial system and the Cherokee language, exhibits on the first Cherokee newspapers–The Cherokee Phoenix and the Cherokee Advocate.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Shavano Valley Petroglyphs, Part 5: Reading the Signs

Up until his death in 2000, LaVan Martineau devoted over forty years to unlocking the secrets behind the petroglyph (and pictograph) symbols left by the Native American.  Part Indian himself, adept in sign language, fluent in native languages, and expert in cryptanalytical methods, he brought a unique perspective to the challenge and opened the door to a new understanding of the meanings behind the symbols.  Carol Patterson, in Montrose, Colorado, carries on his legacy in her studies of the symbols using his methods to expand our knowledge of rock art and symbology.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Shavano Valley Petroglyphs, Part 4: Curiosities

This week I want to share with you some of the more curious petroglyphs at the Shavano Valley Petroglyph site near Montrose, Colorado.
FLet’s start with this “butterfly next to a plant” glyph.  The “plant” is actually a tree motif.  The cosmic tree, according to Ute cosmology, has three roots that penetrate the Underworld and the fork at the top penetrates the Sky World.   This motif is recreated on the “butterfly” to the right and looks like its body.  The “wings” of the butterfly are actually the five levels of the Ute cosmos–the sky world, upper world, center world, lower world, and  under world.  The levels are curved just as the horizon appears to the viewer.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Shavano Valley Petroglyphs, Part 3, The Bear Dance

The Bear panel at Shavano Valley Petroglyph site near Montrose, Colorado, is an intriguing example of Ute symbolism.  The panel incorporates glyphs from recent times overlaid on very ancient ones.  Look closely and you can see a faint line coming out of the crevice in the rock face (bottom right).  The line goes up and then branches.  Part way up on the line is a woman or man carrying a back pack and a planting stick.  The line and the figure were pecked into the patina of the rock face.  It is a classic case of using rock incorporation of cracks and crevices in the story being depicted.  Here the person has emerged from the underworld, represented by the crevice, and is travelling along the trail provided by Sinauf, the creator, with a basket of seeds and a planting stick.  Also, part of this era are more branching trails and animal tracks.  This story is the oldest depicted on the panel.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Shavano Valley Petroglyphs, Part 2: Rock Art Maps

Have you used Google Maps lately?  How about AAA Triptiks.  Remember Rand-McNally?  Maps
have been an essential part of the traveler’s gear for thousands of years.   We’ve all seen pictures of ancient maps used by mariners, but did you know that Native Americans also used maps?
Many of the hunter-gatherer cultures, like the Ute and their predecessors, were highly mobile, constantly moving to keep pace with plant and animal food sources.  They depended upon their knowledge of game trails, hunting strategies, and locations for seasonal plants. Carol Patterson wrote, “Powell, one of the first anthropologists to describe Ute life ways, went so far as to remark that:

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Shavano Valley Petroglyphs, Part 1: Tunnel Cave

 A few miles northeast of Montrose, Colorado, canyon walls look down on fertile Shavano Valley.  Pecked onto the patina of Dakota Sandstone boulders are ancient petroglyphs crafted by hunter-gatherers recording the beliefs and preserving maps and history  from 1000BC until AD 1881.  The valley was popular through the centuries because of an artesian well and abundance of game.  Ute trails converged at this site where the young could learn the history and traditions of their ancestors.
This is a preview of Shavano Valley Petroglyphs, Part 1: Tunnel Cave. Read the full post (459 words, 7 images, estimated 1:50 mins reading time)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Cherokee Fables: What Stars are Like

Starry Night, van Gogh

This week the sky provided us with wondrous things to observe.  Sunday was this year’s “Supermoon” which is the first full moon when the moon is at its closest point to earth.  It was accompanied by the Perseid Meteor Shower which occurs every year around this time when the earth’s path crosses the debris left by the comet Swift-Tuttle.
Man has always been intrigued by the sky and its mysteries and has tried to explain the phenomena in the sky with careful observation and reasoned hypotheses.  This week I would like continue the series on Cherokee Fables with the Cherokee story “What the Stars are Like” as recorded by James Mooney in the late 1800’s . . .

Friday, August 8, 2014

Cherokee Fables: The Moon and The Thunders

The Sun was a young woman and lived in the East, while her brother, the Moon. lived in the West. The girl had a lover who used to come every month in the dark of the moon to court her. He would come at night, and leave before daylight, and although she talked with him she could not see his face in the dark, and he would not tell her his name, until she was wondering all the time who it could be. At last she hit upon a plan to find out, so the next time he came, as they were sitting together in the dark of the âsi, she slyly dipped her hand into the cinders and ashes of the fireplace and rubbed it over his face, saying, “Your face is cold; you must have suffered from the wind,” and pretending to be very sorry for him, but he did not know that she had ashes on her hand. After a while he left her and went away again.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Cherokee Fables: The Journey to the Sunrise

Cherokee festival of friendship -- by Mails
A long time ago several young men made up their minds to find the place where the Sun lives and see what the Sun is like. They got ready their bows and arrows, their parched corn and extra moccasins, and started out toward the east. At first they met tribes they knew, then they came to tribes they had only heard about, and at last to others of which they had never heard.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cherokee Fables: How They Brought Back Tobacco

Branta_canadensis_in_flight,_Great_Meadows_National_Wildlife_RefugeIn the beginning of the world, when people and animals were all the same, there was only one tobacco plant, to which they all came for their tobacco until the Dagûl`kû geese stole it and carried it far away to the south. The people were suffering without it, and there was one old woman who grew so thin and weak that everybody said she would soon die unless she could get tobacco to keep her alive.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cherokee Fables: The Daughter of the Sun

Autumn Equinox 9-21-2 01The Sun lived on the other side of the sky vault, but her daughter lived in the middle of the sky, directly above the earth, and every day as the Sun was climbing along the sky arch to the west she used to stop at her daughter’s house for dinner.
Now, the Sun hated the people on the earth, because they could never look straight at her without screwing up their faces. She said to her brother, the Moon, “My grandchildren are ugly; they grin all over their faces when they look at me.” But the Moon said, “I like my younger brothers; I think they are very handsome “–because they always smiled pleasantly when they saw him in the sky at night, for his rays were milder.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

“Cherokee Fables: Origin of Disease and Medicine”

Cherokee Hunter by Mails
In the old days the beasts, birds, fishes, insects, and plants could all talk, and they and the people lived together in peace and friendship. But as time went on the people increased so rapidly that their settlements spread over the whole earth, and the poor animals found themselves beginning to be cramped for room. This was bad enough, but to make it worse Man invented bows, knives, blowguns, spears, and hooks, and began to slaughter the larger animals, birds, and fishes for their flesh or their skins, while the smaller creatures, such as the frogs and worms, were crushed and trodden upon without thought, out of pure carelessness or contempt. So the animals resolved to consult upon measures for their common safety.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

“Part 2, Kana’tï And Selu: The Origin Of Game And Corn”

 Cultures, Legends, Native American Antiquity  No Responses »
letting the deer get awayPart 2: Wild Game

Thursday, June 26, 2014

“Kana’tï And Selu: The Origin Of Game And Corn”

Part 1:  The Wild Boy
[from Myths of the Cherokee, by James Mooney]
When I was a boy this is what the old men told me they had heard when they were boys.
When I was a boy this is what the old men told me they had heard when they were boys.
river in Smoky MountainsLong years ago, soon after the world was made, a hunter and his wife lived at Pilot knob with their only child, a little boy. The father’s name was Kana’tï (The Lucky Hunter), and his wife was called Selu (Corn). No matter when Kana’tï went into the wood, he never failed to bring back a load of game, which his wife. would cut up and prepare, washing off the blood from the meat in the river near the house. The little boy used to play down by the river every day, and one morning the old people thought they heard laughing and talking in the bushes as though there were two children there. When the boy came home at night his parents asked him who had been playing with him all day. “He comes out of the water,” said the boy, “and he calls himself my elder brother. He says his mother was cruel to him and threw him into the river.” Then they knew that the strange boy had sprung from the blood of the game which Selu had washed off at the river’s edge.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Cherokee Fables: The First Fire

Lightning_hits_treeIn the beginning there was no fire, and the world was cold, until the Thunders (Ani’-Hyûñ’tïkwälâ’skï), who lived up in Gälûñ’lätï, sent their lightning and put fire into the bottom of a hollow sycamore tree which grew on an island. The animals knew it was there, because they could see the smoke coming out at the top, but they could not get to it on account of the water, so they held a council to decide what to do. This was a long time ago.

Cherokee Fables: How the World was Made

The earth is a great island floating in a sea of water, and suspended at each of the four cardinal points by a cord hanging down from the sky vault, which is of solid rock. When the world grows old and worn out, the people will die and the cords will break and let the earth sink down into the ocean, and all will be water again. The Indians are afraid of this.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Snake that moves like an Inchworm

There was once a great serpent called the Ustû’tlï that made its haunt upon Cohutta mountain. It was called the Ustû’tlï or “foot” snake, because it did not glide like other snakes, but had feet at each end of its body, and moved by strides or jerks, like a great measuring worm. These feet were three-cornered and flat and could hold on to the ground like suckers. It had no legs, but would raise itself up on its hind feet, with its snaky head waving high in the air until it found a good place to take a fresh hold; then it would bend down and grip its front feet to the ground while it drew its body up from behind. It could cross rivers and deep ravines by throwing its head across and getting a grip with its front feet and then swinging its body over. Wherever its footprints were found there was danger. It used to bleat like a young fawn, and when the hunter heard a fawn bleat in the woods he never looked for it, but hurried away in the other direction. Up the mountain or down, nothing could escape the Ustû’tlï’s pursuit, but along the side of the ridge it could not go, because the great weight of its swinging head broke its hold on the ground when it moved sideways.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Ancient Native American Trade: Cotton

Courtney and Tippie
on cotton farm

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Killing Lean Bear, Part 3

Lindneaux painting of Sand Creek Massacre
Lindneaux painting of Sand Creek Massacre
It was probably a peaceful, happy morning for the families of Black Kettle’s warriors who were off on a buffalo hunt.  Black Kettle probably slept peacefully that night convinced that he had secured peace and the protection of the government for his people since he had checked in at Fort Lyon and moved his tribe to Sand Creek as instructed.  But, the elders, women, children and a few young men that were left at camp were unprepared for that tragic morning November 29, 1864.  
Here is Little Bear’s account, “I looked towards Fort Lyon Trail south of the

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Killing Lean Bear, Part 2

Lean Bear and the other Cheyenne chiefs came away from their meeting with President Lincoln in 1862 feeling good about the outcome. They even took a detour to visit New York at the request of P. T. Barnham and visited his museum.

But in less than two years, in the spring of 1864, despite promises from Lincoln to keep the peace, things took a tragic turn. Lean Bear with his wife and tribe were camped near Ash Creek in Kansas on a buffalo hunt when troops from the Colorado Militia approached them. Unarmed, Chief Lean Bear grabbed his medal and letter from Lincoln proclaiming him a friend and peacekeeper and went out to meet the troops. Unbeknownst to him, Lieutenant George Eayre, who was in command, was acting under orders from Colonel John M. Chivington to kill all Indians on sight.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Killing Lean Bear, Part 1

It was while reading one of my favorite authors, Margaret Coel’s book “Killing Custer” that I was reminded of the killing of Chief Lean Bear.
I have often thought about what the Native American could have done differently that might have enabled them to avoid the brutal and inhumane treatment they suffered in the 1800’s. But, my research has found that they did try everything and there was nothing that would have worked. For me, that futility is epitomized in the story of Chief Lean Bear.

Native American Fables: The Origin of Strawberries

When James Mooney, who worked for the Bureau of American Ethnology in the late 1800’s, lived with the Cherokee, he recorded many of their myths and legends. I love the story of the origin of strawberries because it presents the Cherokee version of Adam and Eve and gives us insight into the Cherokee’s thoughts on the power of love.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Unique Beings Being Unique: Cherokee vs Algonquin

 Cultures, Native American Antiquity  No Responses »
Cherokee - Algonquin map 001I am constantly struck by the images evoked by the term “Native American”. I find that the English language has a way of sorting and categorizing that often combines very different entities. For instance, the word” love”, in English, refers to both the concept of agape and eros as if they are the same thing. In one case, we are referring to a very unselfish affection, whereas the other is completely selfish.
I think the term “Native American” can be just as contradictory. Certainly, the Native Americans
Cherokee house
Cherokee house

Friday, April 18, 2014

Alien-like Skulls of Ancient America

Cranial deformation from Peru 100-200bc“Alien-like skulls found in a small Mexican village recently date back 1,000 years ago.”
This quote is from a recent article by Bruce Baker in “”   Elongated skulls have been found all over the world.  The question asked over and over is:  “Are these skulls proof that we have been visited by aliens from outer space?”
Let’s look at the skulls found in Paracas, Peru.  Brien Foerster, contributor to
Paracas Skulls
Paracas Skulls
History Channel’s Ancient Aliens, recently reported that DNA testing of the Paracas Skulls turned up “DNA mutations [that] are unknown in any human, primate, or animal known so far.”

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Native American History: Rediscovery of Ancestral Pueblos

Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde National Park
Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde National Park
When the Ancestral Puebloan People, popularly known as the Anasazi, Left their magnificent pueblos in Chaco Canyon and throughout New Mexico and Cliff Dwellings in Mesa Verde, Colorado these incredible palace-like structures lay dormant for over seven-hundred years.  The descendants of these people kept the ancient places sacred in their hearts, memories and stories but never returned.
So, when ranchers, explorers, and archaeologists “discovered” the ruins of these grand houses they were a great mystery to be investigated and in some cases plundered.  The earliest reference to ancient “ruins” was made by Don Juan Maria de Rivera on an expedition ordered by New Mexico Governor Tomas Velez Cachupin in 1765.  But the reference was vague and no detail provided.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Cherokee Ball Play Dance

Nachez Powwow
Nachez Powwow–picture from website
This past weekend (March 29 and 30), there was a powwow in Nachez, Mississippi.  Native American powwows are very colorful and the dances are festive and interesting.  Dancing and singing has always been a major part of Native American life.   When James Mooney lived with the Cherokee in the 1830’s, he witnessed and wrote about the Cherokee Ball Play Dance.  Here are some of Mooney’s observations:
“In 1834, before the removal of the Cherokee to the west, a great game was played near the present site of Jasper, Georgia, between the settlements of Hickory Log and Coosawattee, in which there were eighteen players on a side, and the chiefs of the rival settlements wagered $1,000 apiece on the result.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Native American Skies: The View from Down Under

Last Sunday we watched the very popular new show, Cosmos, which is a remake of the famous Carl Sagan series from the 1980’s.  In this episode, the astronomer Haley sailed south to chart the stars of the southern hemisphere in the 1600’s.  Have you ever wondered what the sky down under looks like?  Do they see any of the same constellations we see at night?
Well, actually, they see most of the same constellations we do, but sort of upside down.  Here are snapshots from my amateur astronomy software, Starry Night.
Starry Night - Sleeping Bear 3-27-14

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Native American Skies: Perceiving Spring

Native American Skies: Perceiving Spring

Crestone Equinox
Twice a year, a day comes along where the length of daylight equals the length of darkness.  Today we call that day the “equinox”.  We recognize the vernal equinox as the first day of spring and the autumnal equinox as the first day of fall.  These two days have always been important indicators for man since even ancient times.
Sangre de Cristo Calendar
Before Europeans came to America, Native Americans did not have bankers, insurance agents, or real estate agents so where did they get their calendars?  How did they know when spring or fall arrived?  They had someone more important to them than our bankers or agents are to us, they had astronomers.
This is a preview of Native American Skies: Perceiving Spring. Read the full post (830 words, 6 images, estimated 3:19 mins reading time)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Native American Skies: Sacred Caves of Machu Picchu

Mausoleum“Suddenly, without any warning, under a huge overhanging ledge the boy showed me a cave beautifully lined with the finest cut stone.  It had evidently been a royal mausoleum.  On top of this particular ledge was a semicircular building whose outer wall, gently sloping and slightly curved, bore a striking resemblance to the famous Temple of the Sun in Cuzco.”  Hiram Bingham’s first encounter with Machu Picchu in 1911, was the mausoleum cave and the Temple of the Sun or Torreon built above it. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Native American Skies: Machu Picchu Obelisk

Mt Huayna Picchu from Machu Picchu“In the variety of its charms and the power of its spell, I know of no place in the world which can compare with it.  Not only has it great snow peaks looming above the clouds more than two miles overhead and gigantic precipices of many-coloured granite rising sheer for thousands of feet above the foaming, glistening, roaring rapids, it has also, in striking contrast, orchids and tree ferns, the delectable beauty of luxurious vegetation, and the mysterious witchery of the jungle.  One is drawn irresistibly onward by ever-recurring surprises through a deep, winding gorge, turning and twisting past overhanging cliffs of incredible height.”

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Ancient Art: Decoding Rock Art

Pictograph Arizona spiral
Courtney Miller
Throughout the southwest, Native Americans have left images pecked or painted on canyon walls, caves and large stones.  Like so many others, I wonder whether these images represent stories or just graffiti.  Were the artists just doodling in their idle time, or were they leaving a message for their friends and posterity?
I am convinced that most of the petroglyphs and pictographs were, in fact, messages and stories.  I say this because although there are many recognizable depictions of animals, people, reptiles, etc., that could be just random doodling by bored children or adults to pass the time,  there are also many abstract symbols that, like our alphabet, have no likeness in nature and therefore must represent a common concept.