Journal of Northeast Texas Archaeology
What little research that has been done in Caddo County, Oklahoma (and elsewhere) with Caddo Native American Church altars or "fireplace" locations show that there is a desperate need to document and record these locations for future generations. However, even with the paucity of this research, it is feasible to suggest that these ceremonial altars, their stylistic differences, and the passing of this religion to future generations of traditional practitioners have had a very long history.
Others have discussed the ceremonial uses of fire, structures, objects, and mounds in the archaeological record, yet have not addressed the appearance and importance of these uses extending into the historic era and their continued use in present day religious rituals among the Caddo peoples. If, according to these researchers, "the prominent role fire and the central hearth played" are "symbols of life itself," then I suggest that these symbols of life must be manifested in some form in present day ceremonial uses.
Some researchers go so far as to suggest "in leaving little to chance, these people [in referring to those living at the Harlan site, 34CK6I combined tangible elements of their material world with performance in acting out an ordered structure of belief." These belief systems, then, become a large part of the physical and archaeological record left behind, but not only this, many of these belief systems of the past have been carried on in the present through the peyotism ceremonies of the Native American Church.
In studies of the historic Caddo, it is not unlikely that similar altars could be found in areas such as the Brazos Reserve on the Brazos River in Young County, Texas, Caddo Lake, and Timber HiJI (41MR211), an early 19th century Caddo village near Caddo Lake, as well as other pre-1859 Caddo sites across eastern Texas. Moreover. similar altars may never have been accounted for in the archaeological record of these areas, as archaeologists working in these areas may have been unaware of what was being observed, its particular use, and unknowingly failed to record them as significant in any way. Furthermore, the ceremonial altars themselves could have been a part of the natural landscape, thus making identification of these places extremely difficult.
"Documentation of a Native American Church Altar in Caddo County, Oklahoma,"
Index of Texas Archaeology: Open Access Gray Literature from the Lone Star State: Vol. 2007
, Article 21. https://doi.org/10.21112/.ita.2007.1.21
Available at: https://scholarworks.sfasu.edu/ita/vol2007/iss1/21
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