Indian Path Historical Marker at Tamarack
1.This re-creation of an 18th century Delaware (Lenape) Indian war party record depicts a military maneuver in western Virginia. Painted records such as these gave Paint Creek its distinctive name. Photo by Scott George Sept. 2016
2.This re-created war record represents the war party of a Delaware (Lenape) warrior named Two Bears. Such records were common throughout eastern North America. Photo by Scott George Sept. 2016
3.This is a re-creation of a Delaware (Lenape) hunting record. The actor is portraying a hunter using charcoal and bear grease as paint. Bark was stripped from a living tree to paint this record, and this was the typical method for making records.
Indian Path Historical Marker Photo by Scott George Sept. 2016
Backstory and Context
A vast network of trails was used by the Native Americans in the pursuit of wild game and during tribal warfare. One of the most frequented paths was called the Indian path on Paint Creek. The Indian path was also known as the “Warriors Path” and “Hunters Road”. Some American Indians used a form of symbolic drawing called pictography. Information was conveyed using drawings of objects, humans, animals, tools, weapons, houses, canoes, and so forth, combined in a particular sequence. These pictographs were once in abundance among the trees around Paint Creek, and the reason Paint Creek’s name.
The creek empties into the Kanawha River. When European explorers first arrived, Paint Creek was surrounded by visual evidence of Native American life and culture. For example, the "painted trees" for which Paint Creek is named demonstrated the presence of an advanced human civilization with art serving the function of a written language. Some tribes used glyphic writing systems of symbols and pictures to transmit information. Along Paint Creek, many war and hunting parties painted pictographs on trees to transmit information about their exploits, or to mark trails. Early settlers named two prominent areas of painted trees near the present-day Raleigh/Fayette County line as "The Big Painted Trees" and "The Upper Painted Trees" (Fischer).
Inscribed on one of the pictures of the marker is a story about Mary Ingles:
In 1755, Shawnee warriors abducted Mary Ingles and her two sons from their family's homestead near present-day Blacksburg, Virginia. The warriors led Mary down Paint Creek in route to a Shawnee village near Portsmouth, Ohio. After a time, Mary and a fellow captive carried out a daring escape. With fierce determination and one tomahawk in hand, Mary began a treacherous 450-mile journey back to Virginia. Along the way, it is believed that Mary may have attempted to find her original route through Paint Creek, but was unsuccessful. Instead, Mary began a harrowing journey up the New River Gorge. Mary was found alive lying in a corn patch near present-day Eggleston, VA, and she eventually re-united with her husband.