Monday, May 14, 2007

Ghosts of the Plains

When I was a kid I used to love to hunt for arrowheads on my grandfather's farm. His "home" place was located on Runningwater Draw. There was evidence of a major encampment in a meander in the draw (a draw is similar to a creek but has water only seasonally). Occasionally I would find "perfect" points, but most of the time they were broken pieces. There also were a few small pot shards.

Runningwater Draw was one of the major roads for the Comancheros that came out of New Mexico to trade with the Kiowa and Comanche tribes on the plains. During the chaos of the "War of Northern Aggression" (Civil war for you non-southerners), the Comanche tribes pushed back the Texas frontier through aggressive raiding of the few brave pioneers settling westward toward the plains. They would take captives in their raids and then trade them as slaves to the Comancheros to be sold in New Mexico. Ransom Canyon, near Lubbock, Texas, was one of the primary rendezvous points for these trades.

In my earliest years, as I hunted for the arrowheads, my imagination would run wild. I would think of myself as the lone cowboy attacked by a whooping band of Indians racing their colorful ponies across the Plains. Such ideas were shaped by watching Roy Rogers on early Saturday morning television. He was my hero growing up. From what I know of him now, he probably was a fairly worthy hero -- not like the sports figures and actors of today.

Some years ago, I wrote the following poem:

Ghosts of the Plains
Out on the wild prairie where tumbleweeds roll
and the dust-devils play in the sun,
There rode a young cowboy all hell-bent for leather,
and high in his hand was a gun.
The shimmering heat made him look like a specter
as he came flying over a rise.
The cloud of his dust looked just like a smudge
on the blue of the West Texas skies.
Suddenly, behind him there rose a wild band
of Kiowas quick on his heel.
The arrows were flying, the horse fell to earth,
and fear rent the air from his squeal.
The valiant young cowboy lay down 'hind his mount
and thunder spoke forth from his gun.
His Colt took a toll on the redskins that day
as they fell 'neath the hot Texas sun.
With blood streaming down he fought to the last
while the sun slowly sank from the sky.
When the fiery orb painted dark red the horizon
both day and young cowboy did die.
So were the dreams of my youth as I hunted
for arrowheads out on the Draw.
With visions so vivid I touched each found point;
It could only be ghosts that I saw.


MotherPie said...

My cousins all collected the points, too. We went once in Palo Duro with archelogists looking for traces of Coronado's expedition.

Did you find points from alibates?

History is so much alive in your area... it was a true crossroads. I loved the cowboy and indian myths and grew up to love the true stories.

Panhandle Poet said...

Some of the arrow points that I found were made from alibates flint, however, the majority were either native to the soil, or the flint was imported from elsewhere. Flint was an important trade good for the Plains Indians and often traveled long distances as a trade item before being used for tools. It was highly prized. I have also found points made of quartz, quartzite, obsidian, and one made of steel. The steel one is probably the most interesting. It is a Comanchero trade point that was probably made from old Spanish armor or possibly salvaged steel from a wagon, or other implement. Most of the arrowheads that I have found are fairly modern. It is not far however to where Folsom points have been found. In fact, in the Blackwater Draw, which parallels the Runningwater to the south, there have been Folsom points found -- less than 100 miles from where I found most of mine.

WomanHonorThyself said...

hi there poet..thanks so much for dropping a comment at my come again!..:)

MotherPie said...

In the Palo Duro expedition, we found a cache of Indian points, hide scrapers and tools in a little pocket under the topsoil... It was incredibly intact.

My son learned to flintknap... a very interesting thing to study and learn... especially when school itself can seem rather boring.

CDO said...

Done a little of this arrow head hunting myself.

10-4 Willy