Smoke Signals

smoke-signals (Frederic Remington)

Smoke Signals

  • Smoke signals were one of the oldest forms of communication over long distances.
  • Many Native Americans used this traditional method.
  • Warriors often lit fires to show other tribes that they were in the area, inviting them to parley and trade.
  • The signals were created by controlling smoke with a blanket.
  • As they had to be easily visible, fires were usually lit on high ground.
  • The senders and receivers needed to develop their own code so that messages could not be interpreted by an enemy.
  • Smoke signals could be sent in different shapes – round, spiral,  zigzag, or straight lines.
  • When there is no other communication available, smoke can relay the following information:

smoke-1One puff = I am here and sending a message

smoke2Two puffs = Everything is OK

smoke3Three puffs = Warning! Something is wrong

  • The Boy Scouts of America are still taught this survival skill for use in an emergency.

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