Imagine walking through a thick forest, with no maps or GPS to guide you. How would you find your way? Well, Native Americans had a clever solution – bending trees. Yes, you heard that right! They used to bend trees to create markers that would guide them through the wilderness.
But how did they do it? They would insert a piece of the tree into a hole and allow the tree to grow around it. Over time, these bent trees became permanent trail markers, pointing travelers towards water, food, and other important landmarks.
You might be wondering, how did the indigenous people distinguish between trees bent by nature and those bent by humans? The answer lies in the unique shape of these bent trees. They have a noticeable nose or notch that sticks out at the end of the bend, as shown in the image below.
Another clue is the scars left behind from the straps used to bend these young trees. These scars serve as evidence of their intentional modification by Native Americans.
It is fascinating to think about the age of these trees. Most of them are over 150, and even 200 years old! These living landmarks have stood the test of time, preserving the history and heritage of the Native American tribes.
Today, thanks to the Mountain Stewards website, more than 1,000 of these bent trees have been mapped out across the country. The efforts to preserve and document these trees ensure that their stories will not be forgotten.
While modern technology has made navigation much easier, these trail trees serve as a reminder of the ingenuity and resourcefulness of our ancestors. They are a testament to the rich tapestry of American history.
Next time you find yourself in a forest, keep an eye out for these bent trees. You never know what stories they may have to tell.
If you found this article interesting, be sure to share it with your family and friends. Let’s spread the word about these hidden secrets of the past.