by Cyclone Covey, Ph.D.
Originally published in Ancient American Magazine March/April 1994.
In the 1830’s, soon after the forced removal of aboriginal tribes into Indian Territory, Chocktaw hunters roaming vast, vacant, forested hills came upon the mammoth runestone in an idyllic vale of Poteau, Mt. It had stood immemorially hidden in its remote ravine. Gloria Farley first hiked to it in 1928 when no path yet led the two miles uphill from her home town, Heavener, Oklahoma. A precocious little girl, she realized c.1930 that the large characters carved on “Indian Rock” were runes; but not until 1951, on moving back to Heavener from Ohio, did she clear away the gray lichen and begin serious study of this “billboard” (her word). She measured the protective semicircle of overhanging cliffs at 40′ high. The huge stone below was an upright gray slab of very hard, fine-grained Pennsylvania Savanna sandstone 12′ high, 10′ wide, and 16″ thick. Geologists told her it once projected the cliff above and fell to its present position in a primeval time. The large runes, 6 1/2 to 9 1/2″ high, stretch horizontally nearly two yards (69″) across the west face 3/4 to 1″ wide. Tool marks, 1/4 to 3/16″ deep, were detectable but the sharp-chiseled edges had weather-rounded despite the natural shelter (Westville Symposium Papers #17).