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Hughes County

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Hughes County, Oklahoma

The Red Stick Man Site

Pictograph at the Red Stick Man Site

Pictograph at the Red Stick Man Site

Pictographs (painted) are not as common in Oklahoma as are petroglyphs (pecked). Perhaps this is simply a matter of preservation since the pigmented art is more fragile. The Red Stick Man site in Hughes County is of interest, not just for its representation of a human figure, but also because of its location.

The Red Stick Man site is in a sandstone rock shelter about 15' in diameter. The entrance is partially blocked by two large sandstone slabs which detached from the outcrop and came to rest in front of the shelter. Interestingly, sandstone blocks have been stacked in front of two of the three openings around the slabs allowing entrance from only one side. It is believed that these walls may have been built prehistorically. Similar walls are reported from Arkansas, and studies there have concluded that they were made prehistorically. The identification of the items being held by the figure is open to interpretation. Some have concluded that the curved object in the figure's left hand is a fish while others believe it is an atlatl (a curved dart-throwing tool) or a bow. Although it appears that the right hand is holding a roundish object, in fact all the curved elements are simply old mud-daubers nests. The pigmented area is a rather thick, straight line.

The pictograph above is about 6" tall and was probably made by the artist drawing with a chunk of hematite (an iron-rich mineral with a red tint) rather than by a liquid paint being applied with a brush. This drawing was done in a bowl-like depression on the ceiling of the rock shelter. A large chunk of rock which fell from the ceiling creating the depression still lies on the floor of the shelter, probably in the same spot where the artist found it. A wall of the rock shelter has a smaller, faint figure similar to this one and a rectangle with 11 vertical lines and 1 horizontal line inside it.

For further reading:

Prehistoric Rock Art of the Cross Timbers Management Unit, East Central Oklahoma: An Introductory Study, by Charles D. Neel. The University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Archeological Survey, ARSR 27. 1986.

Number of Prehistoric Sites in Hughes County Identified to Time Period

Chart showing number of prehistoric sites identified to time period for Hughes County

Paleo = ?-8,000 BP / Archaic = 8,000-2,000 BP / Woodland = 2,000-1,000 BP / Village 1000-500 BP
BP (before present)


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