Pikes Peak Pebble Pups

Pikes Peak Pebble Pups

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Guest Pebble Pup Blog: Ted Reeves

This paper is about three archaeological artifacts found in Bijou Basin in El Paso County, Colorado and how Native Americans used them. The artifacts are tools and include a hand held chopper, a squaw's knife, and a regular Indian's knife. The three Bijou Basin stone artifacts were made out of different kinds of petrified wood.

There were many tribes of Native Americans who lived in El Paso County at different times. Native Americans who lived there mostly hunted. The Apaches were the first known Native Americans to live in that particular area, from about 1540 to 1700. A few years later the Comanches lived near Bijou Basin from 1727 to 1800. Next the Arapahoes and the Cheyennes came. They lived there from 1820 to 1846 (Hughes, 1977).

These tools are common. It is hard to determine which group of Native Americans used these tools because there were no projectile points found with them. Projectile points are more distinct and easier to date. The way the projectile point was carved would determine which Native American tribe made these artifacts. Each Native American tribe has different types of projectile points (Taylor, 2010).

With close examination, you will be able to tell what the Bijou Basin artifacts were used for. One of the few ways to tell what the tools were used for is to use a high-powered microscope to look for the wear and what type of damage is on the end.

Figure 1. This hand-held chopper, found at the Bijou Basin, appears to be fashioned from petrified palm wood. The palm grain is evident From the John Harrington collection. Photo by S. Veatch © 2010.

Chemical analysis could also tell you what the tools were used for (Kent, 2010). Shape also helps determine use of the tool. The Bijou Basin tools were used mostly to cut parts of the animals they hunted, such as bison, but they could have been used to cut wood. The hand held chopper (figure 1) could have been used for cutting bone. The chopper could also be used to mash roots for stew. The “squaw's knife” (figure 2) was small, but it could scrape the meat off the bone. The Indian knife (figure 3) is like our modern meat knife.
Figure 2. This artifact was used by female Indians to process bison and other game. The artifact is known as a “squaw’s knife.” It is made from petrified wood, and is from the Bijou Basin. From the John Harrington collection. Photo by S. Veatch © 2010.

Figure 3. A beautiful example of a knife used by the early occupants of Bijou Basin in eastern El Paso County. The knife is  made from petrified wood.  From the John Harrington collection. Photo by S. Veatch © 2010.
These tools were made of petrified wood, or fossilized wood. There are many stages in how petrified wood is formed. The tree needs to be covered by sediment. Once the wood is covered by sediment, minerals start taking over the cell structures. It helps turn the wood into petrified wood when the wood and minerals are in some type of liquid. After thousands of years, when the minerals have completely taken over the cell structures, the wood becomes petrified.

Many conditions have to be met to form petrified wood. The first condition is if the plant has all the right cells. Additional conditions are temperature, right type of minerals, how fast and how long the process takes, and how the wood is encased. These conditions tell how well the wood will be preserved (Daniels, 1998).

Many different Native Americans used these types of tools. These tools were commonly made out of petrified wood. Native Americans liked petrified wood because it was hard and that made it easier to cut, scrape, and chop. The Bijou Basin artifacts represent not only a time when native people hunted and camped here, but provide a connection to how these people lived.

References Cited:

Daniels, Frank J. 1998. Petrified Wood: The World of Fossilized Wood, Cones, Ferns, and Cycads. Grand Junction, Colorado: Western Colorado Publishing Company, 170 pp.

Hughes, J. Donald. 1977. American Indians in Colorado. Boulder, Colorado: Pruett Publishing Co., 143 pp.

Kent, Dr. Jonathan. 2010. Personal communication by email. Professor of Anthropology, Metropolitan State College of Denver.

Taylor, Jeb. 2010. Personal communication at Stone Age Fair, Loveland, Colorado. Author of Projectile Points of the High Plains. Jeb Taylor Artifacts Inc., 455 pp.

Author Bio: Ted Reeves is a 10 year old student in 5th grade at Immanuel Lutheran School in Colorado. Collecting fossils is one of his favorite hobbies. He started in 2006 when he found an Ice Age mammal bone in his backyard. Other hobbies include basketball, piano, and Lego building.

No comments:

Welcome! This is the gateway to adventure and discovery

Through this blog pebble pups and junior members of the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society can access their lessons, work on assignments and projects, and receive details about field trips in the Pikes Peak Region. This Internet program is also suitable for young people who are interested in Earth science but do not live near a rock club or gem and mineral society or for young people anywhere who want a deeper dive into these topics. The only requirement is that all participants must be members of the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society and must fill out the CSMS membership form (under important websites) and send their registration and membership fee in. Steven Veatch is the senior instructor and will need an email from you with your name, address, phone number, and permission from your parents to participate in this program.