Pelican Lake

Pelican Lake:
Arrow Head Era: late Archaic Period- 2,300 to 2,600 years old.

It seems to be a strange name for a piece with buffalo barbed wire and arrow heads but it has everything to do with all three. As a small child my father would take his family up to our mountain cabin where he would drive to high mountain prairie meadow to look for arrow heads. Each year as his family grew up we would still look for arrow heads, eventually I married and purchased some high mountain prairie land where I invited my parents to see. Excitedly he opted to join us walk and the property. All along the walk his thoughts were on finding an arrowhead points, and on this beautiful summer morning as we walked by the scent of the sweet sagebrush, I looked down on the ground not wanting to step on a prickly pear cactus and spotted an odd color in the dirt. The odd colored rock had lichen growing on it. Bending down to pick the rock up, I felt the sharp edges of the stone on my fingertips then lifting it up from beneath the dirt and gravely stones to my surprise it was a beautiful arrow head, which immediately ruined my father’s day. For over 60 years he had looked for and never had found an arrow head, then one sunny mountain morning day, I had found what he had most desired to find. I remember the day as if it was yesterday.

I had thought the arrow head was from an Arapahoe or Cheyenne hunting party but as it was small the curious thing to me about the arrow head was that lichen was growing on it. The long life-span and slow and regular growth rate of some lichens can date events. I was to learn years later, that the common arrow head which I had discovered, was not from any local tribe which may have hunted in the area in the last hundred or so years, but was from an era when horses were not even found on north America. Where the buffalo were larger had thicker hides and those that hunted the beast used small tipped spears.

I was to learn about this piece when I was at demonstrating at. I came to meet an arrowhead expert at the event when I casually mentioned the arrow head I had found years ago with my family to the expert thinking it to be just a common arrowhead. At first the expert was nonchalant and not very excited with my description but when I mentioned the lichen he wanted to see what I had found. When I showed him the arrow head he became highly animated he identified the artifact as a pelican lake tip from the late archaic period, which was 2,300 to 2,600 years which was why the lichen had attached itself to the point long ago a very rare find for the location. The expert explained to me why the tip was small, which was to pierce the thick hides that the larger buffalos used to have, and how the people hunted their prey would run after the animal. They were pedestrian hunters, there were no tribes, no society just people trying to survive.

I thought back to where I had found the tip on the high open mountain meadow and thought about how the area changed. I thought of how the west had changed and the buffalo disappeared, the land was fenced for cattle and the people hunting with spears had vanished, then I created Pelican Lake.

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