What is the Purpose and Meaning of Track Rock?

A site like Track Rock does not have a single purpose. We know that the carvings were probably made over several hundred years, possibly by different ethnic groups. They were likely made for several different reasons. It is possible that some of the carvings were made to symbolize an event that had occurred, possibly a vision quest, while others were made to influence a future event. Other carvings (such as the cupules) may have been made as a by-product of ritual activities that occurred here. Track Rock represents a accumulation of events and actions over time.

The best way to understand a place like Track Rock is that it was a place of power within a sacred landscape. Native Americans rarely distinguished between the actions of humans and of their spirit helpers, because their identities were essentially the same. Ascribing supernatural origins to petroglyphs is a metaphorical way to describe the activities of humans acting under the influence of spirit beings.

Furthermore, the setting of Track Rock in a gap places it at a threshold. In numerous Cherokee stories footprints and tracks signify an in-between or transitional state or condition. More specifically, rocks with footprints and tracks signified the area of transition, a doorway or threshold, into the domain of dangerous spirit beings. Depictions of footprints and tracks are not only physical testimony that spirit beings were there some time in the past, but that they could still be lingering somewhere close-by in the present, and that they may return unexpectedly at any time in the future.