atm-logoDid Indians send smoke signals?

Ronald Davis
Gilbert, Arizona

Many tribes did. They didn’t send complicated messages, such as “Red Cloud has 347 warriors, two miles east of the river, and will reach the fort at 10:14 a.m. tomorrow.”

A smoke signal aimed to send a pre-arranged code, since the signal would be visible to both friend and foe. For example, one puff could mean, “Attention,” two puffs, “All’s well,” and three puffs, “Danger” or “Help.”


Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian. His latest book is Wyatt Earp: Showdown at Tombstone.  If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at

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