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Hueco Tanks boasts large collection of face paintings

By Catholic Online
August 10th, 2010
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The Hueco Tanks is a natural land formation found in Texas, near El Paso in the far reaches of the Chihuahua Desert. A collection of large natural rock basins, or "huecos," these unusual rock formations collect and trap water in an otherwise dry region. Rich in history, the tanks were used as a watering stop for the Butterfield Overland Mail Route, the precursor to the Pony Express.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Due to the unique concentration of historic artifacts, plants and wildlife, the site is under protection of Texas law, and it is an offense to alter or destroy them. At one time, the site was the Escontrias Ranch. The names of Texas Rangers, US Cavalrymen, and the artifacts and paintings of Native Americans attest to its historic nature.

Pictographs from several distinct tribes and peoples can be found all over the Hueco Tanks, some dating to as early as 6000-3000 BC. There are over 3000 rock drawings on these natural catch-basins, hundreds of which are mask designs reminiscent of the still active Pueblan Katchina Cult. Often depicted in masks or doll form, these figures represent a religious belief in a group of powerful beings. The Hueco Tanks are the only place in North America with such a large collection of painted-mask designs.

There are countless images of hunts and adventures had near the tanks, ranging up to 8000 years of various cultures of Native Americans.

For wildlife watching, there are seasonal population influxes of a small and translucent freshwater shrimp that attracts a multitude of predator species. Among the interested are bobcats, gray foxes, various falcons and eagles, reptiles and more.

Tours of the tanks and pictographs are free with entry to the park. A visit to the park Web site to determine hours and reservation information is suggested as entrance into the park is limited. Examples of the various rock paintings can be found on the Web site as well.

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