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This Old Tree

Indian marker tree in Dallas, Texas now lost. Photo by Doug Taylor.
Indian marker tree in Dallas, Texas now lost. Photo by Doug Taylor.

Published January 15, 2013 By JULIE THiBODEAUX


The Dallas Historic Tree Coalition aims to document a part of Texas history that’s written in the trees -- before it’s erased. Mary Graves, president of the nonprofit founded in 1995, said the group is stepping up efforts to find the last remaining Indian Marker trees in Texas. The trees were bent as saplings by American Indians that lived in Texas 150 years ago and stayed that way. Forming rainbow shapes or featuring 90-degree bends, the irregular-shaped trees marked trails, campsites, low-water crossings, springs and other significant natural features. To certify that tree is a true Indian sign post, DHTC collaborates with tree experts, historians, archeologists and anthropologists to collect evidence to support each case before presenting it to the Commanche Tribal Elder Council for final approval.

Steve Houser, an arborist and founding member of DHTC, said so far the group has achieved only one official designation with more than 100 cases across Texas still pending investigation. He said time is running out as the trees age and development spreads. “The true Indian marker trees are living witnesses to a significant part of our history and we’re losing them,” said Houser. Learn more on Jan. 26 at 10 a.m., when Dennis Downes, author of “Native American Trail Marker Trees,” speaks at the Trinity River Audubon Center in Dallas. 


About the author

Ms. Julie Thibodeaux

Ms. Thibodeaux is an editor for, for environmental news and community resource.

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