Comanche Marker Trees of Texas

Comanche Marker Trees of Texas

Comanche Marker Trees of Texas

Comanche Marker Trees of Texas

Synopsis

In this unprecedented effort to gather and share knowledge of the Native American practice of creating, designating, and making use of marker trees, an arborist, an anthropologist, and a Comanche tribal officer have merged their wisdom, research, and years of personal experience to create Comanche Marker Trees of Texas.

A genuine marker tree is a rare find--only six of these natural and cultural treasures have been officially documented in Texas and recognized by the Comanche Nation. The latter third of the book highlights the characteristics of these six marker trees and gives an up-to-date history of each, displaying beautiful photographs of these long-standing, misshapen, controversial symbols that have withstood the tests of time and human activity.

Thoroughly researched and richly illustrated with maps, drawings, and photographs of trees, this book offers a close look at the unique cultural significance of these living witnesses to our history and provides detailed guidelines on how to recognize, research, and report potential marker tree candidates.

Excerpt

The use of trees to identify a location has always been important in the traditional life of the Comanche. in days of old, our ancestors would mark a tree, or use a tree that was naturally marked and stood out on the landscape, to identify a resource. the tree itself was a resource and could be used to identify various others, such as food, medicine, water, a path, a burial site, or a meeting place. More often than not, these trees marked more than a singular resource.

For nomadic people, it was important to remember locations where activities took place and that, in the oral tradition, held significant information about cultural life. These types of trees are still important and in use today. We utilize the trees within the landscape as a means of following the paths of our ancestors’ teachings and connecting ourselves to the country we know as Numu Soko (the Comanche word for “Comanche Land”). We still stop to gather medicines and foods, as well as to camp, or follow various paths that lead us to our destinations, often by the utilization of these trees. Essentially these historic resources are just as significant today as in yesteryear, for we are Comanche—yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

I remember traveling around Comanche country as a child with my grandparents and elders to collect certain resources. There were specific locations where trees offered food or medicine for collection, as well as locations where trees were used for identifying other important occurrences or places. For example, such a tree stood north of our old home place. It was an old, unusual-looking tree that marked the place where my siblings, cousins, friends, and I would gather to play. It was a place where the kids could be found at any time of the day—easily within calling distance in the advent of an important announcement or need. There was no distinction among seasons and its use. It was the kind of tree that stood out in the landscape, calling your attention, begging you to come closer, and directing your activities. Whether it was with or without leaves, we spent hours in and beneath that tree, discovering nature and ourselves. It was a guide of sorts, and a friend as well, who seemed to listen to our stories and . . .

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