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:
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