American Indians Use of Smoke Signals
February 3, 12
American Indians used smoke signals, one of the oldest forms of
communication. Smoke signals were once used for getting a message to someone, or
a near by village over a great distance. Most other forms of ancient communication
were good only for the use between others nearby. However, smoke signals were
used not only for warning people inside the village, but also to send a friendly
message to someone at a great distance.
American Indians would use smoke signals within the town mostly to inform
the villagers within important information. Their technique was effective because it
was the fastest way to broadcast a message to the entire village. A great advantage
of the smoke signals being able to communicate with others at great deal of distance
was not only an advantage, but also a major problem. Having the ability of smoke
signals gave the Indians a fast and effective way to broadcast alerts to the village.
However the major disadvantage was not only could the people interpret the signals
that were suppose to get the signal, but also the enemy could see the signals. The
enemy could decode the messages and were able to plan accordingly. With the
enemy having this advantage, only made life more complicated for the Indians to
communicate effectively (Indians.org “Smoke Signals”).
Smoke signals was not a very difficult skill for the Indians to learn and
perform. The making process of the fire and sending a smoke signal was easy
because you would create a fire and would use leaves and a blanket of some type.
You would then cover the fire with the towel that is a little damp and let the smoke
build up underneath it then remove it to create different types of puffs or signals.
The most common type of smoke signals that were used all American Indians were
the three puff system. One puff of smoke was code for “attention” to grab someone’s
interests so they would pay attention to see what came next usually. Two puffs of
smoke was code for “ Everything is ok” usually used to tell others that the enemy
has left or that there is no problem here, no warnings. The third puff of smoke was
used more as a warning as it was code for “ Something is wrong.” These were the
basic types of smoke signals that were used and understood by most American
Indians. Not all tribes of American Indians would use the normal form of code
because some tribes would make up a different form of code so others would not
interpret the message, only the ones that the signal was meant for would
understand the code (youtube.com “How to Flirt with Smoke Signals”).
American Indians had to adapt accordingly depending on their geographical
location. One of the flaws with communicating with smoke signals was for signals to
broadcast effectively they had to be sent from a high elevation. American Indians
would usually attempt to send smoke signals from locations such as a high mountain
or hill. Sending the smoke signal from a high elevation would increase the distance
and people that could see the messages. This form of communication does work well
over long distances because the smoke would travel with the wind, allowing it to be
carried over long distances for a long period of time. To be able to communicate
with tribes and villages at different distances near by they had to get the message
high enough. The American Indian tribes had to adjust where they would live or
they would have to be close enough to hills or mountains so they could send
messages. Indians had to readjust and rethink the situation when they would
relocate to insure they were able to communicate effectively.
American Indians not only had to worry about the location of the village, but
also creating new codes within the tribe. The different Indian tribes would have to
adjust their codes and make them more complex so others would not interpret what
they were sending. Eventually some tribes even created a serious of numbers and
signs with the smoke to make signals that only the village could interrupt. Creating
new codes was a great idea because being able to broadcast messages secretly
within a village is a necessity. With the invention of creating codes for a specific
village or tribe made this form of communication more affective and last longer
(wikipedia.org “Smoke Signals”).
American Indians form of communication was very affective during this
period of time as well as used in many different ways. Not only was this form an
easy way to create a signal with the basic code to broadcast a message at various
distances. Even though the improvements in technology over time have changed
and improved the way people communicate. Smoke signals are rarely ever used
anymore however, sometimes smoke signals are still very useful and being used in
various situations such as the boy scouts that still use this form of communication
Work Cited Page
Charles, Iner. "McDonald's Profile." Mises Economics Blog. Ludwig Von
Mises Institute, 2011. Web. 3 Feb 2012.
"Smoke Signals." www.indians.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Feb 2012.
"Smoke Signals." Wikipedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Feb 2012.
"How to flirt with smoke signals." www.youtube.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 5
Feb 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GneehK1uJhs>.