Saturday, November 18, 2017


Panel of Fremont figures. Glade
Park, Mesa County, Colorado.
Photograph Peter Faris, October 1989.

On May 18, 2010, I posted a column titled NATIVE AMERICAN PORTRAITURE - THE MAN WITH ONE FOOT which discussed a panel of Fremont figures located at Glade Park in Mesa County, Colorado. My premise was that this anthropomorph was pictured with only one foot which would have identified him to other members of the tribe/clan who knew him - thus, a portrait.

Fremont figure. Glade Park,
Mesa County, Colorado.
Photograph Peter Faris, October 1989.

There are a couple of other anthropomorphs in the panel as well, including one which is portrayed ornately with a unique headdress and is also shown with a crane-headed stick, possibly a dance wand. Now I always get excited when some detail of a rock art panel can be corroborated by a physical object, so it was quite exciting to me to find an illustration of a crane-headed dance wand pictured in a book by Evan Maurer (1992:118)

Crow/Absaroke dance wand, 1900.
Pictured on Maurer, 1992, Visions of 
the People, fig. 19, p. 118.

According to Maurer the dance stick was Crow (Absaroke), dated from 1900, and had been collected in 1900 by Robert H. Lowie on the Crow Reservation in Montana in 1907. It was held by the American Museum of Natural History. " Lowie documented these crane-headed sticks as being the insignia of the four men who were the third highest group of officers of the Crow Hot Dance Society (batawedisua). The Hot Dance was analogous to the Grass Dance and was introduced to the Crow by the Hidatsa in 1875. (see Lowie 1935, pp. 206-13)." (Maurer 1992:118)

Closeup of crane head. Glade
Park, Mesa County, Colorado.

Photograph Peter Faris, October 1989.

Can there be any connection between a Fremont figure dating from before A.D. 1300 and the Crow/Absaroke people of A.D. 1900? There is obviously no temporal connection, and I know of no cultural connection between the two peoples (although the Fremont people probably migrated into their home area from the North). What they have in common might be no more than the presence of cranes in their landscape, and anyone who has seen cranes dance might have been impressed enough to replicate it with a crane-headed dance wand themselves. It does suggest that this concept possesses considerable time-depth.


Evan M. Maurer,
1992 Visions of the People: A Pictorial History of Plains Indian Life, fig. 19, p. 118, The Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, Minneapolis.

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