This new book by Dennis Downes focuses on the history of Native American Trail
Marker Trees. This book is the result of the author's lifelong passion concerning the Trail
Marker Trees, used by Native Americans throughout their history, both pre and post European
settlement in North America and the role early pioneers and historians played in helping to save
this part of history. This exciting book, a beautiful combination of history and nature, has 264
pages with more than 250 color and black and white photographs, maps and memorabilia. It is based
on Dennis' broad travels throughout North America and Canada during which he researched ancient
cultures and their involvement with the trees. Dennis was first influenced by his own Native
American relative and later by working with several Native American experts and historians across
the country. In addition, he has made it his lifelong dedication to finding, identifying,
researching, and protecting these culturally modified living landmarks. The book includes detailed
stories about Trail Marker Trees in more than 19 states and in Canada and related involvement with
individuals and groups such as the Daughters of the American Revolution, Boy and Girl Scouts of
America, DNR, and many others. It is the culmination of his travels and nearly thirty years of
research. This is the first publication to focus in such detail on this unique form of land and
water navigation used by the Native Americans and later the early pioneers.
There is also a fascinating Foreword to this book was written by well-known Chicago television
host, executive producer of ABC7 News' 190 North and historian Janet Davies.
The book includes research and specific examples from Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana,
Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina,
Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, Colorado, Iowa, and the province of Ontario.
Stephen B. Presser Raoul Berger, Prof. of Legal History Northwestern University School of Law, Harvard Graduate, University Club of Chicago Member.
"It is a staple of current fiction that a scholar, after years of painstaking work, reveals secrets from an earlier culture that transform our understanding of ourselves, as for example Dan Brown's protagonist did in the Da Vinci Code. Dennis Downes has done something similarly remarkable in real life, as he has devoted three decades to understanding the derivation and meaning of Native American trail marker trees, an elaborate system which North American Indians used, for centuries, to communicate with each other about the most important aspects of coping with their difficult environment. Downes now understands these Native American practices, has even acquired the ability to reproduce them in our time, and is uniquely able to speak about, explain, and re-create them for contemporary audiences with a passion and excitement that makes him one of our most gifted speakers on nature and Indian lore."
Andrew Johnson. Executive Director, American Indian Center of Chicago
"The Native American Trail Marker Trees are historical links to our past and were part of the daily lives of many original inhabitants. Our community is indebted to Dennis Downes for his important and inspiring efforts to discover, properly identify, and preserve these trees throughout the United States. We are honored by his commitment and support his tireless work."
From Dick Bales, attorney and published author (Illinois)
I have just finished reading Dennis Downes' book. Dennis is first and foremost an artist.
How appropriate, then, that this book is truly a work of art, filled with hundreds of photographs.
But although Dennis is an artist, in writing this book he has created something that is more than
just art. This book is unique on at least two levels. One, he has completed a comprehensive study
of a heretofore arcane subject. Two, in writing this book, he has combined hundreds of hours of
academic library research with hundreds of hours of physical "in the field"
investigation. As an author myself, I find the result to be inspiring and, I must confess, more
than a bit humbling.
From Lee and Donna Ryan, founding members of the Almond Historical Society
We have just received our copy of "Native American Trail Marker Trees" written by
Dennis Downes, and we are absolutely thrilled with it! Our interest in trail marker trees in our
area of Western New York State began several years ago, and we have been fascinated with the study
of these trees, our oldest living historical landmarks. I wish we had "found" Dennis
Downes several years ago: The knowledge that he has gained from his three decades of studying trail
marker trees is shared here in this beautifully illustrated book. We have never seen such a
complete, detailed work on this subject. It will be a valuable resource to us in the future. Thank
you, Dennis, for all your hard work -- and for sharing your passion and your knowledge with us. We
say: Buy this book -- you won't be disappointed!
From C. Cappello, Cougar Creek Ranch (Colorado)
Wonderfully informative, and a must have for anyone who loves Native American history. Mr.
Downes has spent his life researching and sharing this project. I am so pleased to own this and to
have learned so much from it. Fabulous and fascinating !!!!
From Michael Griem, Career Management Consultant (Lake Forest, IL)
Dennis' book is incredible. He has captured the essence and glory of trail marker trees in a
one-of-a-kind resource. The reader immediately senses the unequalled importance of these wonderful,
to-date underappreciated, historical landmarks. You can feel the vital role they played in the
daily lives of Native Americans.
The author's unparalleled knowledge of and keen personal interest in these glorious resources
jumps from the book's pages. He educates us about trail marker trees and then describes their
broad geographic presence throughout America.
Thanks to Dennis' unusual professionalism (which I valued highly as a career management
consultant), the reader gets a robust exploration of trail marker trees. The book is quite a
C. Trutter Hauff past Regent of the Fort Dearborn Chapter, Daughters of the
Dennis Downes has connected the dots in a marvelous discussion of pre-history in North America.
He has researched the subject on Indian Trail Marker trees to the smallest detail, yet he keeps his
story very readable. This is a rarely explored subject and Dennis has captured it in wonderful
detail. A splendid and fun read!
Gary T. Johnson, President, Chicago History Museum
A powerful reminder of a bye-gone era:
"Native American Trail Marker Trees: Marking Paths Through The Wilderness" by Dennis
Downes is a powerful reminder of a bye-gone era. As Chicago celebrates its 175th anniversary as a
city in 2012, it is too easy to forget that for centuries and centuries before then, that very same
land was home to countless generations of inhabitants. They left their marks in the trees, some of
which still survive to point out the paths that those people followed. Now, an important local
artist tells the story in this beautiful book. This photographic essay will help us to remember the
people who lived here first and the paths that they blazed.