Area fourth and fifth grade students traveled back in time this week, as Davey Dogwood Park in Palestine was transformed into an ancient hunter-gatherers’ forest, among other settings.
The students were there, Monday through Friday, as part of the ninth annual Forest Awareness Tours for Anderson County Students, hosted by the Texas Forest Service.
Respective schools had private access to the park each day and heard presentations highlighting topics in outdoor education, from Texas Parks and Wildlife, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Anderson County Extension Office and others — including local historian Norris White.
White took students back to a time when man had to hunt to eat and led an outdoor crash course on Texas Indians — once the prime population in Anderson County.
“I’m going to demonstrate this ‘atlatl,’” he called out to a group Thursday.
White held up what appeared to be a stick with a handle and hook on the end, also known as a “spear thrower.” The ‘atlatl’ (rhymes with cattle, pronounced “attle-attle”) preceded the bow and arrow in most parts of the world and was one of humankind’s first mechanical inventions.
White motions to a hay bale off to the side, decorated in red, white and blue balloons.
“Men! Braves!” White yells like a warrior. “If you hit one of the targets and bust a balloon, I’ll line up all of my beautiful daughters,” he gestures to the fourth-grade ladies, “and you can pick which one you want — to marry.”
The information is met by a host of nervous giggles, as well as some reactions likely translating to “...but girls have cooties.”
White had their attention.
“Ladies! Chief White has an equal opportunity prize,” he adds. “If you bust one of my balloons ladies, I’ll line up all my handsome braves…” by now, the giggles have grown to near-deafening squeals.