Saturday, February 3, 2018


A few days ago I was visiting rock art sites on the internet when I came across a site I had never seen before. It was an RSS feed that included many of my postings from RockArtBlog. In scrolling through them I found one posting that seemed odd to me. While I did remember writing it for the blog, in thinking back I did not remember any entries for it in the cloud index at the bottom of RockArtBlog. I went to the blog and searched the index and could find no references to this particular posting. So next I went to my Blogspot dashboard and searched the accumulated history archives of past postings. I would have supposedly been posted on July 28, 2012, so I could look for an entry for that day. The strange thing was that it was not there; there was no posting at all for July 28, 2012. I know I did not delete it, and its presence on the RSS feed site proves it once existed. Someone had deleted it without informing me. Anyway, here it is again (below), reconstituted, and restored to keep the record complete. 

Possible buffalo soldiers with a Ute
or Comanche horse, near Vernal,
Uintah County, Utah.
Photo: Peter Faris, September 1989.

I photographed the panel illustrated in September, 1989, on a private ranch near the town of Vernal, in Uinta County, UT. While the petroglyph panel includes a number of historic images done by Ute Indians (the graceful horse in the center is certainly Ute or Comanche in style), it also contains prehistoric images that suggest a considerable age span. Indeed, in the upper right we can see (barely, it is very hard to make out) the torso of an anthropomorph which seems to exhibit characteristics of the much earlier Barrier Canyon Style. This part of the state certainly contains a large amount of Barrier Canyon Style rock art and, although the greater portion of that is painted, Barrier Canyon Style petroglyphs are  known.

Close-up of possible buffalo
soldiers with a Ute or Comanche
horse, near Vernal, Uintah
County, Utah. Photo: Peter Faris,
September 1989.

The ranch owner stated that this panel had been visited by professors from the University of Utah and that they had identified the historic figures in this panel as buffalo soldiers, based upon the facial features and hair portrayals. Given the inaccuracies often seen in rock art I must admit that I feel that is a risky supposition, but based upon history it certainly does seem to be possible.

According to Will Bagley in the Salt Lake City Tribune (8/19/2001) “The 9th Cavalry (buffalo soldiers) joined four companies of the 21st Infantry in 1886 to found Fort Duchesne in the Uinta Valley. They were sent to keep an eye on the Ouray and Uinta reservations, a fact not appreciated by the Utes, some of who probably remembered fighting the Buffalo Soldiers at Milk River in 1879.” - Their first commanding officer had been Major Frederick Benteen, a survivor of the Custer Massacre ten years earlier. - “Except for six months during the Spanish-American War, the 9th Cavalry and its Buffalo Soldiers garrisoned the fort from September 1892 until March 1901. Benjamin O. Davis Sr., an officer who served at Fort Duchesne, became the first black general in U.S. military history. -The last Buffalo Soldiers left the fort in 1901, ending another surprising chapter in Utah's history.

History suggests that this identification just might be right.


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