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Arrowheads

(c) Copyright Chuck Bealke, 1997

When my eyes were younger and situated closer to the ground, I used to watch for things on the ground to examine, collect, taste, throw or whatever seemed right at the moment as I walked about the farm. Unlike some, I did not collect bugs. Watched them and played with them some, but did not keep them. Enough small rocks to pave my room went into my pockets, and many were trashed when the pants and pockets holding them were laundered. The few arrowheads I found were pure treasure and probably worn thinner as I handled them and wondered about thier previous owners that walked the same land long before I did. As it goes with treasure, did not find many, just a few. All were fine specimens. One was incredibly sharp after laying on a hillside for perhaps centuries. I foolishly dropped it on the floor and broke it in half about a year after I found it.

Ironically, the real prize appeared years after the sharp one did - after I had married, finished an Air Force hitch and college and moved to a house about ten minutes from the farm. I had prepared about a quarter-acre garden over at the farm, and while I was hoeing some bush beans there, the hoe clanked on a relic of long gone peoples. I took it to work and showed it to a friend who was an expert on the subject. Like all the arrowhead gurus of the time, he called arrowheads "points."  His first reaction was to examine it carefully for several minutes and ask me if it was for sale. I declined (it was not worth a great deal anyway), because it had found it on family ground while working the soil and become rather attached to the little rock. The point was the key to unlocking about an hour of fascinating discussion on the age (BC), depressions at the top in which the arrow shaft added to keep the "meat entry" profile of the arrow slim, and countless other tidbits about the arrow makers and their craft. He also warned me not to wash off the little brown speckles from the point as they served to authenticate it. Evidently, he had used quite a few vacations and holidays to poke about Iowa fields near rivers seeking points for his collections.

A few days later I discovered another coworker was also a point collector, and got another round of history and stories of how farmers along the Mississippi river bottoms in an area near Cape Girardeau, MO, had provided him with locations of blackened areas discovered during plowing where he found points, pots and other utensils. More talk with older farmers I knew brought out sketchy information on indian tribes that had lived in our area not many years before their grandfathers had farmed. I was beginning to wonder how I could have grown up in Missouri knowing so little of the pre-white settlement history that my coworkers and neighbors had absorbed. And many of them had cigar boxes full of points at one time or another. But that's OK - I found my few without having to leave home.

 

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