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.

Saturday, November 11, 2017


Anthropomorphic geoglyph, Henry
Smith Site, Montana -  Photograph
U.S. Bureau of Land Management,
Public domain.

On September 22, 2010, I posted a column titled A GEOGLYPH IN SOUTHEAST COLORADO - THE MAN WITH THE SPEAR, about a rock alignment in the form of a human figure found near Two Buttes in southeastern Colorado. (Faris 2010)  Now an article in by Blake DePastino revealed a Montana geoglyph that is very similar. A 2015 grass fire at the Henry Smith site burned off enough cover that this geoglyph, and a number of other features, could be recorded.

The intentional grass fire, Henry
Smith Site, Montana -  Photograph
U.S. Bureau of Land Management,
Public domain.

The newly discovered features include another large figure that appears to represent a turtle, six rock cairns, and a large number of drive lines. The Henry Smith site was previously known and has been interpreted as a buffalo jump (Miller 2015) and bison hunting camp, but many of these features were not recorded until their discovery after the fire.

Radiocarbon dating of bison remains from at least six discrete layers established that the site was in use from between 770 to 1040 CE, and stemmed stone points found there place the people who used it within the Middle and Late Avonlea Phases from the Northern Plains. Partial excavation in the 1960s revealed a portion of the impoundment where the driven animals were trapped. (DePastino 2017)

Stone circles seen from drone, Henry
Smith Site, Montana -  Photograph
U.S. Bureau of Land Management,
Public domain.

The fire was purposely set in mid-April and covered approximately 320 acres. After the fire exposed the features they were extensively photographed from a drone. Also discovered were a number of stone circles. A few of these were tipi rings, but others may have been a type of medicine wheel.(DePastino 2017) Study of the site will continue.

NOTE: Images in this posting were retrieved from the internet after a search for public domain photographs. If any of these images are not intended to be public domain, I apologize, and will happily provide the picture credits if the owner will contact me with them. For further information on these reports you should read the originals at the sites listed below.


DePastino, Blake
2017 Fire Reveals Human Stone Effigy, Bison-Kill Site in Montana, February 5, 2017,

Faris, Peter
2010 A Geoglyph in Southeast Colorado - The Man With The Spear, September 22, 2010,

Miller, Mark
2015   Montana Burn Reveals Ancient Stone Effigies, Cairns, Rock Formetions, and Buffalo Slaughter Areas, May 30, 2015,

Saturday, November 4, 2017


Six-toed footprint, Potash Road,
Moab, UT. Photo: Peter Faris,
7 October 2001.

On October 28, 2017, I publish a column titled Another Push-Me-Pull-You about a Fremont Style image from a remarkable site West of Moab, Utah, along Potash Road. Here I wish to present another image from the same site, another example of polydactylism - a six-toed footprint.

Closeup of six-toed footprint,
Potash Road, Moab, UT.
Photo: Peter Faris, 7 October 2001.

I have written previously about H. Marie Wormington's theory about polydactylism. Early in her long career she had excavated a Fremont burial with six fingers on each hand and grave goods indicating that the burial was a high-status individual. She explained that her interpretation of this was that a person with extra digits (or otherwise "different") was perhaps seen as "special" and treated accordingly within the clan or tribe. That fact influenced her to interpret Fremont Style hand-and-foot-prints with six digits as representations of important individuals who also possessed this genetic trait (Wormington, personal communication).

We do find numbers of six-fingered-or-toed representations in Fremont rock art, and Ms. Wormington's hypothesis seems to me to be an eminently reasonable explanation.  In any case they are interesting to find, and speculate about.


Wormington, Hannah Marie - personal communication, 1982.