Home -- About David L Calame Sr.
So ... you have found an Indian artifact and you want to know more about it! Well, you have come to the right place. My name is David Calame, Sr.
I have lived in south Texas all my life, mainly southwest of San Antonio, where I currently reside in Frio Co. I have always been interested in the past, but in 1996 I bought a small ranch in Frio Co. and began finding arrowheads. It was so exciting. I would walk for hours looking at the ground, flipping flint flakes, and occasionally picking up a point.
About that time I got on the internet. Good Lord, the information that thing had on it about archaeology and arrowheads! I came across Dr. Thomas Hester through the Texas Archaeological Society (TAS), and Dr. Hester invited me to join in the search and documentation of Texas’ past. Man, I just thought finding arrowheads was fun!
Recording the archaeological sites folks find on their land and the collection of artifacts they have found is more fun than actually finding arrowheads yourself.
Before I got into archaeology, I was a strong property rights advocate. I had watched in horror as the Sierra Club caused private land owners, and even many major cities in Texas great grief over water rights. And then there was the Golden Cheeked Warbler! The Federal government was causing all sorts of trouble for property owners in the range of this beautiful little bird, because Congress had passed the Endangered Species Act. One day while looking for arrowheads on my place, the thought crossed my mind that archaeology could possibly become a problem for private land owners too. That scared me.
So, I joined the Texas Archaeological Society (TAS). I figured it was much better to work from within an existing group than to stick my head in the sand. I did not want to hide what I was finding in fear, I wanted to know more. And what I found was that private property rights used to be strong as hell in Texas, and that Texans have nothing at all to fear from archaeological sites on their land. Or for that matter, from those who are involved in archaeology in Texas either.
So I recorded the archaeological sites I found on my land, and I must tell you, it has been a very satisfying experience. Before I bought my ranch, others had occasionally found artifacts on this place. But no one had ever documented what they had found, or where they had found them. I went back to the previous owners, to ask if I could document the artifacts they had found over the years. Sadly, though they knew they had found dozens of stone artifacts, those artifacts had been displaced and dispersed over the years.
I set about to make sure the knowledge of what I had found on my land did not suffer the same fate. I photographed every artifact we found, drew site maps and sent all my pictures and paper work into the Texas Archaeological Research Laboratory (TARL) at the University of Texas at Austin. The folks at TARL were very helpful, and issued a trinomial number for each of the archaeological sites I recorded. I must tell you that it was quite satisfying to know that no matter what happens with our ranch collection after I am dead and gone, the information about what we found on our little piece of Texas will not be lost! It will be available for research, so that future Texans will know all they can know about the strong, resilient stone age people who lived on this very land long before us.
And the best part is, what can be learned from the documentation I did on our Frio Co. ranch will continue to pay benefits to Texans as technological advances allow more information to be gleaned from my humble research.
Since those days back in 1996, I have recorded hundreds of prehistoric archaeological sites, over a wide area of Texas, and I have enjoyed visiting with the land owners who allowed me access to their land. And with the patient, guiding hand of Dr. Hester, himself a south Texas boy, I have learned to recognize the different arrowhead types that prehistoric people have made and used over 13,000 years of Texas occupation. I also learned to flint knap (chipping flint) and spend many, many long hot days hunting down the different flint sources that the Indians used to make their stone tools. Flint knapping has allowed me to recognize what I am looking at on archaeological sites and my search for workable stone has allowed me, many times to recognize the material sources of the arrowheads land owners show me.
In 1997, I joined the Southern Texas Archaeological Association (STAA), the local San Antonio volunteer organization. I began to write articles for STAA’s very respected scientific journal, La Tierra. In 2001, STAA made me their Documentation Chair, and I served in that position until 2007. As the STAA Documentation Chair, I was much more accessible to folks, both on the internet and at local STAA functions. My focus became not as much to document and record, as to teach others to do this themselves, just as Dr. Hester had done for me.
In 2002 and 2005, STAA honored me with the “Jimmy Mitchell Award” for Outstanding Avocational Archaeologist of the Year. In 2006 and 2007, the Texas Archaeological Society honored me with the “CK Chandler Award” for Most Prolific Site Recorder in the State of Texas.
From 1999 till recently, I have served as a Volunteer Archaeological Steward with the Texas Historic Commission (THC) and in 2007, the THC honored my efforts with the “Norman G. Flaigg Award” for Exceptional Performance as a THC Steward. It has been a great honor for me to serve the people of Texas through the THC for 8 years now.
In my dealings with private land owners over the years, and my own experience as a land owner, I have come to understand how deeply Texans are tied to the land they live on. And I have come to cherish the rugged individualism and the generous heart of the thousands of Texans I have come in contact with through archaeology. A good analogy for Texans is that they are like an old tow chain. If they like and trust you, you can lead them just about anywhere, but you ain’t gonna push them no where!
Private land owners have very legitimate concerns about their land. Two things they do not want:
2.) Someone else coming on their land and telling them what they can and cannot do!
As a private land owner, that is just how I myself feel. And when they find that they have old Indian camps on their land, those are the first two first things that come to their mind. They don’t want anyone jumping their fence to look for arrowheads without permission, and they for sure do not want someone telling them what they can and cannot do on their land because of an archaeological site!
And human burials, which occasionally are found, scare the dickens out of land owners!
And it should ! In 2009 the Texas Legislature passed a bill intended to strengthen cemetery protections, and it gave the Texas Historic Commission authority to write the rules and definitions to implement this new law.
The THC, in defining a single burial as a cemetery, expanded the intent if the new law onto every person's private property in the state of Texas, even though prehistoric burials nor archaeology, were ever mentioned in legislative discussions leading up to the vote.
So whether intentional or not, the THC disenfranchised every citizen in Texas! I'll be working to change this, but in the meantime if a human burial is found on your land you are required to record a cemetery on your land with the county clerk, and activities that may have lead to the discovery may have to be halted or be changed.
Keep in mind that prehistoric burial locations are not predictable so no one can tell you where you are likely to find one. So property owners fears of an intrusive government in Texas have been realized. I protested with the THC and so, predictably, I am no longer a THC Steward!
As a land owner, you deserve to be informed about how prehistoric burials might affect your property including possibly losing the use of portions of your land. And believe me, if for whatever reason you are required to exhume and re-inter the remains you're the one who will pay out the nose to do it!
I plan to add continuously to this site, so that you can get the most information possible about Texas archaeology. And if you have found something on your land, or if you want someone to come look to see if you might have an archaeological site on your property, please drop me a line. I have hardly ever walked 100 acres of Texas without finding at least some evidence of prehistoric man. I guess Texas has always been a dang good place to live!