An arrowhead, aimed at a wild turkey, takes a rogue dive into the underbrush. Over the years, ferns uncurl and wave above it, only to return back to the loam. Tree roots embrace it. A storm fells the tree, and seasons of rainwater disgorge the arrowhead, washing it into a gulley, a stream, a river, where it bumps along the bottom, carried by the current. Waves wash it closer to shore along with other gravelly bits. Finally, it emerges again, just another pebble. Waiting to be found by a girl with a keen eye and the patience to search each bit of beach until she discovers her prize.
It’s a familiar story to legions of kids who have grown up along the Chesapeake- the constant seeking and the desperately, thrillingly rare finding of arrowheads. The prolonged and intense presence of Indians throughout the Chesapeake for thousands of years has peppered them in layers of soil, and they’re discovered on islands, falling out of sandy cliffs, washed up along marshes, and clinging to spring mud in farm fields. But the discovery of arrowheads can lead to so much more- an understanding of how Indians, over centuries, developed and honed their hunting techniques, and how they related to the verdant world around them.
In the new Bay Journal issue, Kent Mountford explores the history and culture behind arrowheads and what they mean about the people who made them and the Chesapeake they knew in this month’s “Past is Prologue” installment, which you can check out here: http://bit.ly/zUuyHc