Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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July 11, 2014

Wolf Creek Indian Village looking for a few, good palisade poles

BASTIAN, Va. — When she took the job as manager of the Wolf Creek Indian Village and Museum, Rachel Looney probably didn’t think that panhandling for palisades would be one of her tasks, but she’s learning.

Local farmers donated the locust posts that formed the replica palisades that enclosed the village that stood a tad closer to the creek from about 1490 to 1530. While the 100 villagers were living peacefully on the banks of Wolf Creek in what is now Bland County, Va., the world they knew was on the brink of chance.

That change involved the European invasion of the Americas. In 1492, Christopher Columbus sailed from Spain to the Caribbean Sea. By 1521, Cortes had conquered the Aztec Empire in Mexico, Ponce de Leon had failed to find Florida’s Fountain of Youth and Ferdinand Magellan died just a year short of leading the first expedition to circumnavigate the world. The Wolf Creek villagers were moving on to parts unknown in the late 1530s when Francisco Pizarro conquered the Inca Empire.

“The palisades that farmers donated before the village opened to the public in 1996 lasted nearly 20 years, but they’re in bad shape now,” Looney said. “We looked at vendors to replace the poles, but after the county reviewed the estimates, they suggested that we find another way.”

Looney said that the village is looking for about 220 locust poles or treated poles of another material. Each pole should be 4-6 inches in diameter and about 14-feet tall. Each pole needs to be stripped of bark and carved to a point at the top. Looney said that the number of poles needed —220 — is not an estimate, but is the number of posts that Dr. Howard A. MacCord, the state archaeologist, (now retired) discovered during his emergency excavation of the village site in May 1970.

“The locust posts that were erected in the 1990s stood the test of time, but now, they’re starting to show signs of wear,” she said. “We hope there is a group out there that could help us with this project.”

The village and museum site have attracted guests from all 50 states and most foreign countries. “We had a great Independence Day weekend, and a good summer season so far.

Looney said that the Annual Pow Wow will be July 27-27, at the Bland County Fairground.

— Contact Bill Archer at

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