Traces of the Ancients
If you know where and how to look for them, you can
find signs of Native Americans all over the Ozarks. Arrowheads are common;
so are chips of stone that came from the making of arrowheads. The reason
these are so plentiful is that even before this rugged country was the
chief hunting grounds of the Osage tribe, it also provided food, shelter
and clothing to their ancestors. People have lived in the Ozarks for
thousands and thousands of years, and they have left signs of their
lives even though most everything they made has since decomposed and
returned to earth.
One sign that still remains a mystery to modern researchers
is a large rock formation on the top of a bald hill near Wasola. It's
actually 365 rocks - some large, some small - that indigenous (native)
people used to outline the shape of a paw. Each of the six tips of the
paw, which is 52 feet wide, point to six different hills in the distance.
At the base of each hill is a fresh water spring.
Experts have estimated the Native Americans could have
placed the rocks there as long as 3,000 years ago or more. The owner
of the property suspects it could have been a ceremonial ground. Others,
such as a representative of the American Indian Center in Springfield
and a spokeswoman for the Osage Indian Tribal Museum in Oklahoma, suggest
it was a compass that the native people built to indicate to others
the best route to take and where the drinking water was. No matter the
interpretation, it is clear that life in these hills is very old.