Friday, May 29, 2009
Indian Trail Trees
In the past year or so, we've learned about the strangely bent trees that the Native Americans used to mark their trails. The trees called attention to sources for drinking water, encampments, and other things. They were, in a way, like signs on the interstates of today. Sometimes, when the tree was bent, the "elbow" was split in places and filled with moss in order to give the tree a definitive meaning.
I had heard that the majority of these trees could be found East of the Mississippi river. Lately, there have been a number of sightings in Missouri, especially in the Mark Twain National Forest.
Locally, we discovered a few over near Flippin Arkansas last winter, and were amazed to see them in person. The trees still stand as sentinels, looking over the lands the Native Americans used to roam.
Recently, we took some friends down to Blanchard Caverns in the nearby town of 56, Arkansas. While waiting for the tour to begin, we perused the gift shop, and found a small paperback book about the trees. There were several ways the trees could be bent, but all pointed the way for foot traffic on the trails.
Later, as the Native Americans began to use horses for transportation, the low lying trees couldn't be seen from horseback. The bends were made higher up on the trunk of the saplings, and the resulting marker is called a "Rider Tree" today.
Oddly enough, we stumbled across one in plain sight here in our back yard! It seems to be pointing to the old military road that ran East to West along the front of our property. Later that same road became the Southern route of "The Trail of Tears". I don't know how long ago our tree was altered, but I'm sure proud to have it!