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Indigenous Populations of the Big Bend

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Offline JohnG

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Indigenous Populations of the Big Bend
« on: March 30, 2007, 12:59:12 AM »
Some musings while hiking through Estufa Canyon to Banta and back in February.  
The main gist of the discussion was that there are three distinct populations native to the Big Bend area; The Primitive Cairn Builders (PCB's), The Advanced Cairn Builders (ACB's) and the Hidden Cairn Builders (HCB's).  
Population one, the PCB's mark their trails with what can be described as a single stone or, at best, a nondescript clump of stones.  If there is a pile, there is no form or reason to said mass, it simply looks like a pile of rocks.  In the majority of the cases these cairns amount to only a single stone in a somewhat elevated and exposed location.  Several examples were found of a single stone on the ground, the only telling factor was that it was "out of place" with its surroundings.
ACB cairns can easily be distinguished by the level of sophistication used in the "construction" of the cairn.  Usually these are multi-stoned structures graduated in size with the smallest girth on top and the largest on bottom.  Color and stone shape appear to be very important factors in the construction with much time and care going into the selection and assembly.  Many times the builders have actually utilized small "chink" rocks to level and steady the stack.  
The third group, the Hidden Cairn Builders, will use both simple and complex cairns but will not place them in plain sight.  Most of the time these cairns are found hidden behind clumps of grass, under bushes or off to the side of the wash where they usually go unnoticed to the uninitiated or unobservant hiker.  
It was noted was that the PCB's do seem to frequent trails that are in arroyos, washes and lower elevations while ACB's occur more frequently on mountain trails and higher ground.  While this is an interesting observation it is by no means indicative of which style cairn you will actually find.  Evidence suggests that all three groups will use the same trail.  However, they will always build their own unique cairn to mark the way.  In fact, it is not unusual to be able to observe all three styles while standing in a single location.
There was some discussion regarding the HCB's.  Are they actually a separate population or are they sub-groups of the PCB's and ACB's?  The non-consistency of the quality of their cairns does lend some weight to this argument.  However the elusive and secretive nature of their constructions makes it hard to draw a firm conclusion.
Other points of discussion were whether the ACB's descended from a more creative group of PCB's  or are the two groups contemporaries who evolved along separate lines?  Can you say that the more complex nature of the ACB structures is actually more advanced than the more simplistic, stylistic nature of the PCB forms or is the opposite true?  That is, did the PCB's eliminate the more superfluous portions of the edifice and condense it to its essence?  What about the rock piles; are these really constructs of the PCB's or are they failed ACB cairns?  Would this indicate that the abilities vary from group to group or even within the group?  Is the position of Cairn Builder  a specialization, one of importance such as Shaman or Tool maker or is this commonly practiced by everyone in the group?  Experience would lead me to believe that there are a limited number of individuals in any given group that either have the ability and/or the desire to precisely locate and construct a cairn and that everyone else in the group merely benefits from the specialized abilities of this individual.  
One final note:  There was, toward the end of the trip, put forth a theory that there is a possibility that a fourth indigenous group, the NCB's or Non-Cairn Builders, exists.  It was postulated that this group is essentially parasitic in nature, following the cairns of the others or else hopelessly lost, wandering aimlessly around trying to figure out where they are and where they are going.  The dilemma we have is that we must rely on the fact that something, in this case a cairn, does not exist and have to use this non-existence to constitute proof that this group actually does exist.  It is likely that many years of Field Observation may be necessary to answer whether or not this theory is actually viable.
"Para todo mal, mezcal, para todo bien, tambien"

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Offline Vince T

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Indigenous Populations of the Big Bend
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2007, 09:33:11 AM »
You win the creative writing contest for the day!
Fun to read.
I want to do that Estufa trip soon.

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Offline RichardM

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Indigenous Populations of the Big Bend
« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2007, 02:06:34 PM »
Another category:  Supplemental Cairn Builder
SCBs merely add to existing cairns, of all types, and can be responsible for transforming a PC into an AC.  They might even perform the reverse operation and devolve an AC into a PC, should the original AC be deemed unsightly or perhaps not particularly useful.

Here is a prime example of the efforts of a SCB.


It was determined that the above cairn was at least partially constructed by a SCB through empirical evidence, namely that I added a couple of rocks both times I passed this cairn. :)

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Offline The Scorpion

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Indigenous Populations of the Big Bend
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2007, 03:43:50 PM »
found on the East side of Dog Canyon, this is the largest one I have ever seen.

http://www.james-benton.com/gallery/adventures/bigbend03/day2/311-1134_IMG.JPG

found on the West side of Dog Canyon
this one is a rock man
http://www.james-benton.com/gallery/adventures/bigbend01/day3/04230026.jpg

James
« Last Edit: December 05, 2007, 04:02:39 PM by jamesb »
everything is better with bacon!!!

http://jamesb.smugmug.com/BigBendNationalPark/

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Offline xseption

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Re: Indigenous Populations of the Big Bend
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2007, 02:37:32 PM »
found on the East side of Dog Canyon, this is the largest one I have ever seen.

http://www.james-benton.com/igallery/viewer.php?albid=122&stage=3&imgid=1735

found on the West side of Dog Canyon
this one is a rock man
http://www.james-benton.com/igallery/viewer.php?albid=135&stage=3&imgid=2273

James

Holy crap, Mr B! Neither link works ... I am interested in seeing those photos if you be kind enough to share once again!

As per the thread topic, I became an ACB just to find my back from the Banta Shut-in

~ edd
Be the kind of person that you will want to meet!

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Offline The Scorpion

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Re: Indigenous Populations of the Big Bend
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2007, 04:05:27 PM »
Whatchyou talkin bout willis???? the links work..... maybe you dont know how to click on links the correct way



Holy crap, Mr B! Neither link works ... I am interested in seeing those photos if you be kind enough to share once again!

As per the thread topic, I became an ACB just to find my back from the Banta Shut-in

~ edd


actually I just updated the links to the new links for my new gallery

James
everything is better with bacon!!!

http://jamesb.smugmug.com/BigBendNationalPark/

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Offline xseption

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Re: Indigenous Populations of the Big Bend
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2007, 04:07:06 PM »
thanks, Mr B!

:cheesy:
Be the kind of person that you will want to meet!

 


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