National Geographic : 1968 Jan
I came to a deep arroyo. There was a cross ing; wide ramps sloped down both banks. Running waters had gullied them so the car could not pass. I scrambled across afoot. Beside the trail something white gleamed. I picked up the point half of a stone arrowhead. A mile farther along I found a piece of shell, no fossil, but part of the shell of a large fresh water mussel such as you might still find in the Rio Grande and once might have dug from the sands of Comanche Springs. From the place where the shell lay, it is 35 miles to the Rio and 100 to Fort Stockton. Comanche warriors, one of their descendants later told me, mixed their war paint in such shells. Curving gently right, the trail passed be neath a ridge that ended in a jumble of great boulders. Among them endured the sure signs of an Indian camp-the deep holes in flat rocks worn by women pounding mesquite beans into flour with manos, or stone pestles, smoke-dark fire shelters, chips scattered by men making stone weapons and tools. Passing war parties, of course, could hardly have built the camp, for it takes years to pound holes into solid rock. But from one 114 more bit of evidence I stumbled across, I like to think the Comanches at least occasionally used the site. Among the stone chips littering the ground, all but one surely came from the red-and white cliffs in the park. The exception was a piece of black obsidian. There is nothing like this in or near Big Bend. A traveling Indian brought it in, spoiled the artifact he sought to make out of it in a long-ago evening, and cast it aside. Why not a Comanche warrior? Ravens Lead to Panther's Kill I told Buck Newsome of my modest bit of detective work. "Before the park," he said, "there was a road where you said. Goatherders, soldiers, ranchers all used it. But I don't doubt it started with the old war trail. After all, it's the quickest way through mighty hard country. "Speaking of Indian camps, how'd you like to see my own pet one? It has pictures." It was in search of Buck's pictographs that we rode out of the mountains the rare day it snowed, and now jogged over the blazing desert west of the Chisos.