It’s Time to Hunt for Arrowheads!


Kirk Burley spent most of his life bending over, hands clasped behind his back, looking down. No, he wasn’t born with a back deformity nor is he clinically depressed. This Nazareth man is a Native American artifact hunter and a hugely successful one at that.

Some people have a sixth sense when it comes to finding things. Couple Kirk’s near-psychic ability to be drawn to artifacts, with his vast knowledge of the ways of our native people, and what results is a colossal collection of artifacts. Enough to open a museum.  

Cloud Nine is a 800 square foot museum in Kirk’s basement which is literally stuffed with glass display cases, framed pieces, and art. There are beads, knives, scrapers, mortars and pestles, skinning stones, over 55 banner stones, 150 tomahawks, 800 hammer stones, 20,000 whole arrowheads (points) and 30,000 broken points, etc. The amazing part is Kirk found all of them within a 5-6 mile radius of his rural home, some right in his yard, his garden. That’s as local as it gets.

Kirk studies the rich plowed earth, looking for discoveries, hints of the past, clues to life and the native people who came before him. He pokes at the soil, prods, brushes off the dried dirt and holds the piece close to his eyes for scrutinizing examination. A piece can date from the contact period to 10,000 years ago. He fingers the piece, turning it over in his hands, knowing that it was probably not touched by a human for hundreds or thousands of years…until now.

Arrowhead hunting is much akin to treasure hunting. It is calming as you walk, yet your mind and vision is very active.  I was fortunate enough to go out arrowhead hunting with Kirk last year for a story and visited his wonderful museum. The “rest of the story” will be in Pennsylvania Magazine’s upcoming March/April issue. ( In the meantime, get out in a plowed field, (if you can find one- after you ask permission)  and bend down close to the earth. First SEE them in your mind’s eye!

6 thoughts on “It’s Time to Hunt for Arrowheads! Leave a comment

  1. Hi Cindy: Thanks for this report.

    When I took mineralogy classes it was impressed upon us that whenever we removed anything from the field the sample should be marked with a number which is then indexed to a data card or to a page in a book. The reference page bore the collection date (even time of day) and precise location – as close as could be ascertained using area landmarks (this was before GPS). These data could prove useful to the future researcher, for perhaps pinpointing the sample’s origin. Were the pieces in Kirk’s collection cross-referenced to such info?

  2. Hello good folks…I am Kirk’s son, Julian Burley. We in fact do have every single piece in the collection catalogued as to where exactly the artifact was recovered. It took several years to catalogue each item. My father and brother also drew extremely detailed maps of each sites location, including surrounding natural landmarks, etc. Believe it or not….we could each tell you exactly where every item was found…..when you personally recover an ancient artifact, it is something that stays with you for the rest of your life. This holds true for each artifact….they are all a tangible memory of a lost culture.

  3. Wow, that is a noble artifact collection. All the data are there to give credence to each piece. Email date even correctly recorded for Julian. But you, Cindy, are a day ahead of us, now how can you show February 12, 2013 above? You are way into the future. You guys must be on zebra time. My email time is in EST which is bad enough – my top level server is back there in the east somewhere. My other server is in Pasadena, and at least its time setting is more honest.

    Be good guys, I’m still roaming your China with you but I’m almost caught up.

    1. hi dearie- thanks for the comment-miss you guys terribly- kiss Ski for me. Heading to Colorado to hike 100 miles thru the Wemineuche Wild in the San Juans this coming summer- our 20th anniversary of starting the CDT- how fast the time goes! Looking forward to getting into the mtns again with a pack on my back- albeit a small one with the aid of llamas.

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