September 10, 2010

1,100 Indian sites at Rocky Mountain

UNC professor discovers sacred American Indian sites at Rocky Mountain National Park

By Dan EnglandAverage hikers probably would look at the stones arranged just so and assume it was a waypoint for them, a signpost in a sense, so they didn't get lost.

But Bob Brunswig, his eyes filtered by his many years of study as professor of anthropology at the University of Northern Colorado, saw something more. That's led him to discover many sacred American Indian sites in Rocky Mountain National Park—and it's even helped him to predict where more might be located.

Since 1998, Brunswig has identified more than 1,100 sacred and cultural sites, with more than 500 of them prehistoric, across 38,000 acres in the national park.
And:Once he was up there long enough, he began to notice patterns. Some of the sites honored the natural world, such as the season solstices or the lunar cycles (and they discovered those without the use of a GPS!). But other patterns fascinated him.

He noticed that some of the sites seemed to point to other sites, even over several miles and from mountain to mountain, almost like a child doing a connect-the-dots exercise on a menu in a family restaurant.
And:The next step? Brunswig believes a good number of these patterns were modeled after constellations in the sky. You could, in theory, have a Big Dipper on the ground with these stone sites, even if it's spread over miles and mountains.

“It would be amazing if it turned out to be true,” he said.
Comment:  Creating a Big Dipper pattern on widely separated mountaintops would be an impressive achievement, especially for "primitive" Indians.

As you may recall, I visited Rocky Mountain National Park in 2007. I don't recall much mention of an Indian presence there. Just references to their camping and passing through the area.

Now we learn that the park has at least "1,100 sacred and cultural sites." In other words, Indians basically occupied the region--just as they did the rest of America. So another "empty" wilderness is really Indian country.

For more on the subject, see Indian Lore at Rocky Mountain and Colorado Trip Pix (Days 4-6).

Below:  "This is an example of a sacred site in Rocky Mountain National Park. Brunswig will not reveal the location of the sites."

1 comment:

Peter Jones said...

I read this article when it came out a day or two ago and found it rather amusing. Of course there are hundreds of sacred and hunting sites throughout RMNP. I've personally found over 50 - just walk along the Divide anywhere in the Park or south in the Indian Peaks and James Peak Wilderness areas and you will find tons. The entire Divide was utilized as a means of hunting elk, deer, and moose between the high valleys on the east and Middle Park on the west. The reason you don't hear much about the Indian presence in RMNP or other NPs is because that would open up a whole can of worms in terms of management actions and decisions - they would have to let the tribes into the discussion - such as the use of pesticides on watersheds in RMNP. No tribes were allowed to voice their concerns over this.