Part 1 – The Keyword, Theme and the Poem
In order to understand where I believed the treasure was hidden, one must first learn of the Shoshone Tukudeka (Sheepeaters also found spelled as Tukadika and Tukudika). These are the American Indians who inhabited the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and beyond. More specifically, you must learn of their Vision Quests. After I try to convince you of my theme, I’ll then attempt to marry the information to the poem, “the book” and the map.
This solve, I believe, answers all the ATF quotes from Fenn’s interviews. I can’t find one example where it doesn’t fit.
I believe Forrest has referenced Vision Quests several times in his poem. It is for these many references that I chose “Quest” as my keyword and theme of the poem. As you read the following, take a pen and paper and see if you can spot the similarities in Fenn’s poem. How many did you get? Do you agree or disagree with what I’ve found?
From the four book sources mentioned below, I gathered that a Vision Quest for the Shoshone is a religious journey especially for shamen but often for brave young men, and women who went alone to connect with the spirits in search of power and/or answers. First, the participant would usually go alone and bathe in a stream or river, then often paint themselves with red pigment and sit in cedar smoke. Next, the seeker often sat with his/her back to the rocks, perhaps with a fire, facing the river or lake, typically looking in an Eastern direction. Once there in front of the rocks, the Tukudeka would then fast and sleep, wrapped in a blanket for one or several days awaiting a visit/vision from the spirits.
It is said that the spirit creatures could be heard pecking on the rocks, but when a visitor arrived, the spirits quickly stopped and left. During the Vision Quest, the seeker was visited from one of these little spirit people who led them on a journey directly into the surfaces of the rock through cracks in the rocks surfaces, holes or crevices that seemed impassable. This is why some of the petroglyphs have people’s/shamen’s arms and legs disappearing into rock cracks. Once inside the rock spirit world, the brave vision seeker would meet other creatures that seemed to be an animal but then composed of both animal and human parts such as an owl with human arms. These part animal, part humans are otherwise known as anthropomorphs.
During the vision, other odd, strange forms were encountered. This is when the vision or the power and answers were made available to the participant. Alone, and supposedly inside the confines of the rocks, the brave seeker would have to fend for him/her self in this unfamiliar, strange, frightening, spirit world. When the Vision Quest was over and the power/answers were gained, the seeker would return through the rocks, and begin creating a petroglyph. This drawing served to record the memory of the journey. Some of the petroglyphs I continue to refer to throughout, were incised upwards of 3,000 years ago. Usually there was no talk of the VQ to other people, the details of a Vision Quest were kept a secret.
Key Word and Theme: “Quest” as in Vision Quest and from Fenn’s poem “your quest to cease” and all references to the word “it” I believe refer to the quest or the journey. I have outlined the similarities of VQ’s to Forrest’s poem below.
The information on the Vision Quests was taken from several books:
Mountain Spirit, The Sheep Eater Indians of Yellowstone by Lawrence Lowendorf and Nancy Medaris Stone
Ancient Visions Petroglyphs of the Wind River and Bighorn Country by Julie Frances and Lawrence Lowendorf
Plains Indian Rock Art by James Keyser and Michael Klassen
Crow Rock Art in the Bighorn Basin: Petroglyphs at No Water, WY, by James Keyser and George Poetschat.
TTOTC page 145, Forrest: “Now as I look back with the vision…” Ha! Vision Quest!
References of a possible Vision Quest in Forrest’s Poem:
As I have gone alone in there (Forrest by himself alone in the VQ) TTOTC page 124 “Most are conjured up by the reverential spirits and are reserved for times when we happen upon the solitude of just ourselves”.
I can keep my secret where (usually VQ info is kept a secret but images are recorded as glyphs, drawings on rocks)
Hint of riches new and old (petroglyphs, experiences, memories, perhaps ff found artifacts, as well as a reference to the old and new riches in his treasure chest)
Begin IT and Take IT = IT refers to the Quest
Put in below the home of Brown
Dictionary definition of Brown = “dark, sun tanned skin”, capitalized as it relates to a proper noun referring to a nickname for the Shoshone people. Definition of home = “a place of origin”, “one’s own country”, “in harmony with the surroundings”, “a family living together”, “a place where something normally or naturally lives or is located”, “was born and grew up”. It is well documented that the Shoshone Tukudeka who have dark, sun tanned skin, lived in the glacier valley where the petroglyphs are located, named and described in further detail below, migrating up and down this glacier formed valley, following the resources of the plant life and wild game that each season offered.
Does this migration following resources sound like the definition of Geography? Geography Definition: the study of human activity as it affects and is affected by the physical features of the earth, including the distribution of populations and resources, and land use.
From here it’s no place for the meek
It = referring to the quest again. Meek = lacking spirit and courage. Participants in the VQ’s had to have courage and spirit and also believe in spirits or deities. In addition, perhaps the quest is taking us to a place that now requires a short hike uphill or it’s in a location that would discourage most meek, feeble, physically out of shape, seekers.
The end is ever drawing nigh
Ever: as in “always, at any time, increasingly, constantly”. Drawing = “an outline or sketch made by using a series of lines” just like a petroglyph. Nigh = “coming closer, sure to happen” as well as “on the left side of a river when looking downstream.” Put these all together and on the left side of the creek when looking downstream, from below the HOB, there’s petroglyph drawings along the creek side.
There is no paddle up your creek (don’t go up the creek, get out and search up from the creek on the hill side) If Fenn would have used “up from your creek” it would be more obvious, however it would add another syllable to the line making the stanza not match the other prose. I believe he meant this to be able to be deciphered both ways. Up from your creek is perhaps where the treasure is located, and simply up your creek is where there is no paddle, or don’t bother going up there.
Just heavy loads and water high
Just: meaning ff is dismissing the heavy loads and water high as they are insignificant. Heavy loads are the boulders dropped by the terminal moraine of the glacier. Water high simply means the water upstream, as it flows from a higher to lower elevation. There is a waterfall upstream. Definition of High: “upwards in elevation, altitude or simply upriver”. High also means “of a high reverence as in a religious figure a high priest or shaman”.
If you’ve been wise and found the blaze
Wise: a word associated with owls. Also, the below mentioned valley has the highest concentration of owl human anthropomorphic petroglyphs in the world. Wise is a word associated with being smart from former knowledge. Found – “looking among more than just one” (there’s more than a few petroglyphs), also to find as in to find your answers as you see your vision. This sentence is past tense making me believe you can figure out the blaze before hitting the trail.
Your quest to cease (Yay! My keyword that I am in tight focus with!)
But tarry scant with marvel gaze
Tarry Scant: don’t stay long there may be others nearby or it’s in a kinds of sketchy location. Marvel Gaze as in use your eyes to see (as in vision) as well as drooling over the treasure.
Go in peace
After you have found your answers and power by gaining insight from the spirits on the quest.
So why is it that I must go
Forrest is perhaps questioning and seeking answers to questions about his life on his Vision Quest.
The answers I already know
He’s already had the vision and is satisfied with life’s answers.
I’ve done it tired and now I’m weak
After fasting for several days as if on a VQ, he’s weak. He’s maybe also weak from climbing up to secret the treasure and weak from the cancer strain. The type of sandstone that is in this valley is Tensleep and if I were tired it would make me want to go to sleep, to Tensleep.
So hear me all and listen good,
Listen to the spirits pecking the petroglyphs, or the ring sound of Ring Lake and listen to what he has to say next in the poem.
Your effort will be worth the cold
Cold from low body heat from bathing in the cold lakes and only having a blanket. A lack of normal human emotion or friendliness from the spirits. Also cold means “far off the mark” which represents all former attempts to solve the poem. He also needed a word to rhyme with gold and this one fits the bill more than any other rhyming word.
If you are brave and in the wood
I believe he is really emphasizing this part by saying “hear me all and listed good” . Brave like an indian warrior seeking a VQ despite meeting unknown spirits. The style of petroglyphs, with their unique interior lines is “Dinwoody” tradition, which could be considered a form of being “in the wood”.
Ok, I hope I provided enough to convince you on the Quest, particularly, Vision Quest theme. So how did I come up with my location? Well, since ff uses “wise” and also “in the wood” I took that as an owl and Dinwoody. Wise can also mean like a shaman on a VQ. If you look at all the vision quest sites of the Shoshone where there are glyphs/drawings the greatest concentrations of owl glyphs at above 5K feet, they are along Torrey Creek, near the quaint old west town of Dubois, WY. Some are by Dinwoody Lake but that is on reservation land, so that rules that out as it’s not publicly owned. Lander has a few glyphs but not particularly ones of owls. There are also some near Thermopolis, but I don’t feel all the pieces fit. So now I’ve got my location for Torrey Creek glyphs near Ring and Trail Lakes near the town of Dubois, a french word, when translated means “in the wood”.
Part Two to Follow