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Archaeologists Hunt for Secrets to Ancient Navajos' Smoke Signals

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  • Archaeologists Hunt for Secrets to Ancient Navajos' Smoke Signals

    Saturday, May 16, 2009


    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Archaeologists and volunteers armed with special flares will fan out over part of the Four Corners region on Saturday to study how early Navajos could have used smoke signals to warn against invaders.

    There are more than 200 pueblitos — usually high on rock outcroppings overlooking the San Juan Basin — that archaeologists believe were built by Navajos three centuries ago to protect against Spanish explorers and neighboring tribes.

    "If you hear an enemy approaching, you climb into these things and pull up the ladder, and you can seal yourself in for a while," said Ron Maldonado, program manager of the Navajo Nation Historic Preservation Department.

    The sites in the area where New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah meet feature the remains of what were once formidable structures made of stacked sandstone. The theory is that Navajos bunkered down inside the pueblitos and possibly used smoke to send warnings across long distances, said Jim Copeland, an archaeologist with the Bureau of Land Management in Farmington.

    Copeland said experiments in the early 1990s showed the method of warning could work in general, but scores of new sites have been identified since then and scientists want to know more about how the signals could have been relayed. Improved computer modeling and analysis has refined the idea of an "early warning system."

    "We're still trying to confirm long distance and questionable views," Copeland said. "A lot of them are kind of no-brainers. You can pretty much see from A to B, but A to C was sort of questionable and that's the kind of thing we want to test."

    The volunteers planned to reach some of the remote defensive sites by noon Saturday. Their mission: To set off their smoke signals and scan the horizon for other columns of smoke.

    Much of the Four Corners area is known as Dinetah, the ancestral homeland of the Navajos. The tribe's traditional creation story centers on the area.

    "The Dinetah essentially is the emergence place of the Navajo," said Ron Maldonado, program manager of the Navajo Nation Historic Preservation Department.

    Tree-ring dating shows most of the sites are from the early 1700s, said Patrick Hogan, associate director of the University of New Mexico's Office of Contract Archaeology. He researched the sites during the early 1990s, when oil and gas development began to boom and archaeological surveys became necessary.

    Overall, Hogan said, researchers are interested in better understanding the early social organization of the Navajos and the connections between their communities.

    "One way to think about linking these larger communities is which defensive sites have line of sight to each other," he said. "They aren't going to have line of sight to all of them. They're going to be in clusters, and those clusters might give us a basis for then defining larger cooperating groups."

    While more than 200 defensive sites have been documented, Copeland said he's certain that others are out there, collapsed and hidden under centuries of sand and brush.

    "Until you walk up on it or someone points you in that direction, it's just sitting out there waiting," he said.

    The sites that are part of the smoke signal experiment are on land managed by the BLM, Copeland said.
    ᎠᏂᎩᏚᏩᎩ - Anigiduwagi
    Till I Die!

  • #2
    and I now have proof that baby gurl and baby momma don't need cell phones...............we can smoke signal each other......it's in our blood.................
    sigpic

    ...And shephards we shall be. For thee my lord, for thee. Power hath descended forth from thy hand. That our feet may swiftly carry out thy command. So we shall flow a river forth to thee. And teeming with souls shall it ever be. E Nomini Patri, E Fili, E Spiritu Sancti.

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    • #3
      hey fiddy imma send u some smoke signals later k?

      hey if u were tryna warn yer buddies about enemies wouldnt building all these fires tell everybody where u was at??? haha
      thanks dad for showing me the way, teaching me the language, and not leaving my mother...*L*

      *RoUg3 MoD sTaTuS*

      Comment


      • #4
        yea, talk about a catch-22....huh??....LOL!!!!>.....................

        injunboy - I'll send you a pm to where you can send those smoke signals.....LOL!!!!!
        sigpic

        ...And shephards we shall be. For thee my lord, for thee. Power hath descended forth from thy hand. That our feet may swiftly carry out thy command. So we shall flow a river forth to thee. And teeming with souls shall it ever be. E Nomini Patri, E Fili, E Spiritu Sancti.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by injunboy View Post
          hey fiddy imma send u some smoke signals later k?

          hey if u were tryna warn yer buddies about enemies wouldnt building all these fires tell everybody where u was at??? haha


          Guess you can build your fire then run away real fast beforethe enemy get there.....

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          • #6
            LOL!!!!...........good point...............LOL!!!!!
            sigpic

            ...And shephards we shall be. For thee my lord, for thee. Power hath descended forth from thy hand. That our feet may swiftly carry out thy command. So we shall flow a river forth to thee. And teeming with souls shall it ever be. E Nomini Patri, E Fili, E Spiritu Sancti.

            Comment


            • #7
              during the Pueblo Revolution this is reportable how they were able to coordinate their attack that successfuly drove the Spanish out of the region for something like 20-30 years. so there is fact based on this.

              Comment


              • #8
                Man could I save a bundle on my cell phone bill, if we could just do the some signal thing... wonder if we could set up relay points so that our messages could get across country?????
                Thankful for the blessing from the Creator in my life!!!!

                Life should not be measured by the number of things that we aquire on our journey but by the number of lives that we touch along that road.

                I am a bridge on the red path between my ancestors and the future. I am a bridge between my white heritage and my native heritage. A bridge joins two sides together and provides a way to move on..... A.K. O'Pry-Reynolds

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by FireAndFlint View Post
                  during the Pueblo Revolution this is reportable how they were able to coordinate their attack that successfuly drove the Spanish out of the region for something like 20-30 years. so there is fact based on this.
                  Yup, So did the pueblos teach the navajo or did the navajo teach the pueblos... Or did two guys think this at the same time....

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by kiyaanii mom View Post
                    Yup, So did the pueblos teach the navajo or did the navajo teach the pueblos... Or did two guys think this at the same time....
                    honestly, using smoke to signal over a long distance is not a complex concept, you see it used all over the globe by people who need to transfer a warning over a great distance. The Great Wall of China, for example, used signal fires to alert other garrisons of attacks, which is the same concept except they used light instead of smoke.
                    I'm sure that its something that both cultures have been practicing for many thousands of years so who taught who is probably irrelevant.

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                    • #11
                      they did the same thing in Lord of the Rings..............just thought I'd point that out...........LOL!!!!!
                      sigpic

                      ...And shephards we shall be. For thee my lord, for thee. Power hath descended forth from thy hand. That our feet may swiftly carry out thy command. So we shall flow a river forth to thee. And teeming with souls shall it ever be. E Nomini Patri, E Fili, E Spiritu Sancti.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by 50cal View Post
                        they did the same thing in Lord of the Rings..............just thought I'd point that out...........LOL!!!!!
                        I was going to say that!!! Haha

                        Loving the duck hunt .gif btw

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by FireAndFlint View Post
                          honestly, using smoke to signal over a long distance is not a complex concept, you see it used all over the globe by people who need to transfer a warning over a great distance. The Great Wall of China, for example, used signal fires to alert other garrisons of attacks, which is the same concept except they used light instead of smoke.
                          I'm sure that its something that both cultures have been practicing for many thousands of years so who taught who is probably irrelevant.

                          OK ....But someone is going to think it's relevant....Otherwise why would all these people be out digging around in Dinetah?

                          NEways, I took history class too and know ppls have used fire and smoke for a looooooong time for communication......

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by kiyaanii mom View Post
                            OK ....But someone is going to think it's relevant....Otherwise why would all these people be out digging around in Dinetah?

                            NEways, I took history class too and know ppls have used fire and smoke for a looooooong time for communication......
                            I thought they were trying to figure out its effectiveness. I suppose they already know they both did it. I can't imagine it would take alot of skillfull teaching to notice that smoke is visible over a long distance. The Australian Aboriginals have been using smoke as a form of staking out who is in what territory for 30,000 years. Perhaps they taught the Navajo! :-P

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              unfortunately the four corners region has coal fired power plants and somehow became the breezeway for the west coasts pollution. goodluck competing against all that with them skimpy flares!!

                              yo and how do u get that job anyways?? imma professionial smoke signalerrr!!
                              thanks dad for showing me the way, teaching me the language, and not leaving my mother...*L*

                              *RoUg3 MoD sTaTuS*

                              Comment

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