Forrest Fenn’s Gift: Found Treasure within a Treasure

the thrill of the chase

Treasure placed beside image

As shared in a previous post (Chatting with Forrest: Medicine Rock), my family and I had the most amazing, unforgettable opportunity to meet and spend time with Forrest Fenn. Not only did we get to chat with him at his beautiful home amongst his incredible collections, but we were surprisingly and so graciously treated with a tour of San Lazaro Pueblo. The whole time was a dream come true for us and it surely was a treasure. But when we later got home, what we unexpectedly discovered was a hidden treasure beyond belief.

I cherished meeting Forrest, even though I was laughed at by him and my family for wanting to keep ‘worthless items’ while strolling through San Lazaro Pueblo.  Every random piece of wood, stone, or debris, I adored.  Everything was a ‘lost artifact’ to me!

I remember picking up this one unique looking stone, admiring it, and then asking Forrest what it was.  He simply said, ‘that’s just a pebble and tossed it down the mound we were searching for sherds on.  I was stunned.  My treasured rock, just tossed to the wayside!

Wha…..What!…Wait! Where did it go?

I looked up at my family and Forrest to see them chuckling, and realized they thought I was becoming a bit extreme.  It’s true. I was. Sorry. (but truth be told, not searching again for that rock was quite difficult. I consider it a lost treasure now. It is somewhere around section VIII, right before the water retaining wall of the Pueblo..….it’s a greyish pebble with an extremely interesting (to me at least) darker grey design flowing though it. If you find it, please let me know)

the thrill of the chaseWe did find numerous other items to keep that day.  Small bones from birds and rodents, pottery sherds, beads, flecks of turquoise and obsidian, pieces of shell, arrowheads, and more.

Forrest had explained how many of these kind of items are within ‘Medicine Bundles’ discovered at the pueblo.  Medicine bundles are collections of sacred articles, gathered together and prized by the owner, and are believed to possess powers of protection, good luck and healing.  Charmed assortments for sure.

Before we left, Forrest handed my family and I a small tin as a gift.  Wrapped inside were such tiny objects like that found in original ‘Medicine Bundles’.  Forrest collected the objects himself during his digging there. The gift of the ‘medicine bundle’ is an unquestionable, beautiful treasure to me and is priceless.

When we got home, I decided to go through the small tin more thoroughly.  It was magical to pick up, hold, and examine the assembled pieces that were placed inside.  There were bones, with and without teeth and in all different shapes and sizes, claws, shell fragments, beads, precious stones, and other interesting items.

There was one object in the tin that definitely was special and stood out above the rest. And even though I felt every single thing within the tin was treasure, I knew this was something unique.  It was an animal shaped object. I held it for a while, turned it, felt its allure, and then recognized what absolute, unbelievable treasure it was!

I sat there for a while, shocked.  Forrest hadn’t said a word about it.  How could he not tell me?  How could he put this piece of remarkable history in this tin and keep it a secret? Why didn’t he tell me?

I realized it was so I could find a treasure, if I so looked.  Sure, the whole tin was treasure already.  But this was quietly and secretly placed and was waiting to be discovered again. It was a found treasure within a treasure!

I’m sure I felt almost as ecstatic as Forrest did when he found this treasure at his pueblo.  Because even though he was excavating through a room which held contents of a forgotten and lost past, I was excavating through a small tin holding some of those same contents.

What I found hidden within Forrest’s gift was one of the Fetishes photographed in Forrest’s book; The Secrets of San Lazaro Pueblo.  One of only sixteen ever found there! (image at top)

I was speechless…so totally surprised..…and filled with such gratitude……Forrest has a heart of gold.

It wasn’t just the rare Fetish he was giving.  He was giving us (my family and I) the chance to discover the treasure for ourselves.

It is the same gift he gives to every one in The Thrill of the Chase.

There are hidden treasures surrounding us everywhere, and all we have to do is explore and ‘find’ them.  Many are not monetary, but found treasures of the heart. We only have to seek.

I appreciate every day people who inspire and encourage The Quest!  I believe so much treasure waits to be discovered and I wish you the best of luck with whatever you seek!



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33 Responses

  1. decall says:

    What type of animal does it look like to you?
    The top one, I am not too sure, the white one looks like a mountain sheep, the bottom is obviously a turtle

  2. Jenny Kile says:

    Hi decall, oh I like the thought of the sheep. That seems likely now that you mention it.

    And although in the book Forrest says someone suggested the bottom to be a ‘horned toad’, I have to go with you and Forrest and say Turtle too.

    The top, maybe a Bull—- (back to back)

    And the little treasure mentioned…maybe a ‘dog’…..but since I have goats…I say it’s a goat. lol…..but then maybe its a lizard.

    Great Question! We will have to take a poll…

    • timberwolf says:


      What material is your object made from? Looks like stone. I will write more later about what I think and answer your poll….

      • Jenny Kile says:

        It is ‘Fired Clay’, timberwolf. But it is almost as hard as stone…:) Looking forward to what you think they are….

        OH….And I think I should mention, in the caption in Forrest’s book, it says the following: “the top figure is 2 3/8 inch wide, and its feet, where it was once attached to a vessel, have been ground smooth.”

        • timberwolf says:


          Sorry this is long…

          It is very cool that Forrest gave you some artifacts from San Lazaro. I don’t mean to bust your bubble but your “fetish” is clearly not the same one pictured in the book… but it does look very similar to the one on the left. I disagree with Forrest in calling some of the objects in the picture “fetishes”. I am married to a Navajo and I have seen many fetishes… some new and some very, very, old. The only one in the picture that I might call a fetish is the white one on the right. And without looking at it in person, I couldn’t be positive about that one either.

          Having talked to the peoples who are the ancestors to the ancient ones, I can venture a guess as to what they are. I have seen many artifacts both in collections, out in the field, and in the special bundles of the living decedents of the ancient ones. The top item looks like a very stylized pottery handle or tie-off. A rope or string would wrap around this to secure the pot to a wall or to fasten a lid. I have seen similar items attached to pots. It could be a handle for the lid itself. It looks like the “feet” are broken attachment stems. If it is a handle, it is really cool as they did not stylize them very often… but when they did, they would likely use animal forms. Looks like an import from South America as formalized handles are more common there. The import thought makes it even cooler! Kinda looks like a PushMe-PullYou from Doctor Doolittle. (Edit, after reading your above reply to me, it is possible it was turned into a fetish or teaching tool.)

          The right side object looks like a fetish, but could be a tool. The material would likely tell the story. Tools were sometimes stylized like animals just as handles were. Sometimes just the use needed for the tool would often make it look like an effigy. Form follows function. If this object was a tool, the tail and head are likely the parts utilized to perform the function. It does look like a dog, but dogs never were used for effigies to my knowledge. Wolves and coyotes… yes. But they were most often represented in a howling position. Dogs were workers and not often considered sacred or spirit animals. Effigies are often representatives of spirit animals or the subject of a “how it came to be” story. Sheep were not likely around when this object was made.

          The bottom objects certainly looks like a turtle. But, I believe this was a very specialized tool. Yes, it may have been shaped to resemble a turtle which was a very important creature in ancient stories. This object looks like it has quite a few specialized features that likely performed many different functions. My guess is that this object was used to make or finalize another tool or weapon. Depending on the size I would guess an arrow making tool or arrowhead making tool. I could just have been to make other flaked tools. This also may have been used to butcher an animal or gather special animal parts like sinew. The notches seem to all be sized and placed strategically… as are the points and protrusions. I can see and hear the maker of this tool telling a story to the grandchildren the story of Turtle while he is creating it.

          The left object is likely a tool also. It looks to be made of stone and the shape undoubtedly purposeful. Yes, it looks very similar to yours but, it is not the very same object as yours. There are differences in the object in the photograph in the book and your object sitting on the page. Nevertheless, I think they are both the same type of tool to be used for the same purposes. Judging by its shape… it likely had several uses (as most tools back then did). All the appendages and/or notches were possibly used. The one in the book picture has a chip or what looks like a broken section in the “belly” notch. This would lead me to believe that this part of the tool and was probagly the primary section of use. Your piece looks like it has a chip in the same area and going in the same direction and likely was no longer used.

          Now I don’t mean to discredit Fenn for listing the items as Fetishes. A lot of folks assume that animal shaped items are fetishes, especially if they were found in “bundles.” While some may be true fetishes, others are likely not… they just happen to look like a fetish. It is important to state that tools were never treated like fetishes and fetishes were never treated like tools. They were never kept in the same bundles either. Fetishes are basically sacred, meaning they were used in ceremonies, had special powers, or used to teach special stories. Tools were just that… items to make or process other items. Nevertheless, tools were treasured back then as it could mean life or death.

          Just because an item is found in a bundle doesn’t mean it is medicine or sacred. Tools were often revered and kept in bundles (and heirloom tools in separate bundles). This made storage and transport easy as well as keeping them protected. Tools could mean life or death. Medicine and/or sacred objects were kept in bundles for the same reasons… protection, transport, and storage. Here is something not many people know. There is often a third and fourth use for special bundles. The third bundle would contain ceremonial objects. These were kept separate from medicine bundles and only accessed during ceremonies. They were usually kept only by medicine people and/or heads of families. A fourth bundle was often kept with items handed down over many generations. These items were mostly tools but had to be kept separate from regular tool bundles because they were made by someone who had passed. They were kept as a template or prototype to remember how to formulate certain tools. The key element here is that the item had to be gifted to the successor, usually during an apprenticeship, and always before the owner passed. These tools were never to be used again. Most of the time items that were in the possession of someone when they passed had to be either buried with the person or destroyed in some manner.

          So Jenny I am sorry to say your item is not the same as the one pictured in the book… and probably is a tool and not a true fetish of the ancient ones. That said, you treasure it, and that makes it sacred to you… and thus it is now a fetish to you! Hold it in your hand from time to time and close your eyes… you will likely feel and/or see the ancient one who treasured it so many years ago…

          It truly is a treasure… and should be treated as such… as it was both, once used by the ancient ones, AND was GIFTED to you by someone you admire. That makes it special in anyone’s book!

          • timberwolf says:

            Sorry, there are a few typos in the above. This blog won’t let me edit. Everything I relayed was taught to me by the elders and not by archaeologists. That may discredit me to some…

            • Jenny Kile says:

              Thanks for all that timberwolf. I appreciate it much and respect each person’s opinions and experiences.

              Personally, I just love learning about it all.

              I do want to say, though, photographs of photographs don’t do the little things justice or show all the unique indentations, curves, and such.

              Although whether the same or similar, I agree fully my ‘fetish’ is a treasure to me, and always will be. I don’t care what it is…..but a gift.

              Thanks again for sharing all that you did. I feel like you definitely have numerous ‘Treasure Stories’ in you! If you want to share any with us, please do. I would love to hear and share them, if you want…..

              • timberwolf says:


                It could very well be the same object. The pic in the book does not make the object very clear. The lighting must have been horrible. Either way it does not matter…. You have something special!

                Yes, I have many “Treasure Stories.” Some are actual treasure hunts (I feel I am really close to two besides TTOTC), some are wisdoms from the elders, and some are my personal experiences. Much of the wisdom from the elders I am not allowed to disclose or mankind is not ready for. A few of my experiences folks will ridicule. People with open minds are hard to find. I am a bit reserved to tell “Treasure Stories” online… I usually only tell them around a campfire…

                I do not keep all of my knowledge to myself. If someone asks a question, I always try my best to answer it. Knowledge is no good if you horde it….

                The wolf is my spirit animal… look it up.

                BTW… We were blessed with having 5 of them (4 were rescues) share our domicile over the years…

                • Kathryn says:

                  Thank you for sharing. Passing on stories and traditions from generation to generation is so interesting and important. I appreciate your information. I have a few story boards that were used to pass on critical stories to children from another culture. They are one of the only possessions I still have because they mean so much. There is so much to learn about different cultures – but respect for artifacts and stories are top priority for preservation during learning.

  3. Hunter says:

    I think cow, dog, sheep, and turtle

  4. joe says:

    could that last one be a flying squirrel

  5. timberwolf says:

    Oh, and Jenny, I loved the story by the way. I can’t get Forrest to give me the time of day, nor an email… You are very lucky to have experienced his collection and even gained a small piece of it….

  6. Waterhigh says:

    Hi, Jenny,
    Sweet story, but my mind got stuck on “water retaining wall of the Pueblo.” Still obsessing over “where warm water halts,” LOL. Thanks for sharing your treasure.

    • Jenny Kile says:

      That is interesting Waterhigh!!…since none of us have the treasure, we should all be obsessing over WWWH…..

      BTW…..that wording ‘water retaining wall’ is used on the map in the San Lazaro Pueblo book by Forrest….wow…now we can add ‘walls’ to the list of our possibilities for WWWH….

  7. 23kachinas says:

    Proof that being the last to know is more fun than being the first to know in some cases. The surprise and joy you felt when you figured it out for yourself is a feeling you can revisit over and over. That’s worth more than gold IMO.

  8. into says:

    Jenny – I just had to look up the word “Fetish” after reading your wonderful story.

    Fetish – an inanimate object worshiped for its supposed magical powers or because it is considered to be inhabited by a spirit.

    synonyms: talisman, charm, amulet;
    synonyms: juju, talisman, charm, amulet;
    totem, idol, image, effigy

    I am not an expert – but your item looks like a dog to me. If it is – I do believe he gave you a great hint to the treasure. I think a very special dog is involved….for a very special reason. So, now you have a special talisman – and when you go on a hunt – take it with you for luck…

    • Jenny says:

      Hi into…..dogs are known to be fierce protectors and loyal companions to their owners. I love the thought of it with me in regards to the definition you shared….it definitely has charm…. thanks..

  9. Don Luenser says:

    Great story Jenny. I think its a lizard 🙂

    • Jenny says:

      Thanks Don……loved your treasure story as well! (if anyone hasn’t read it yet, it is listed under ‘Treasure Tales’…excellent account of found treasure…)

  10. Thriller says:

    I’m going to say, Bull, Lizard, Sheep, and Pancakes.

    It’s breakfast time here in the west.

  11. E* says:

    Jenny – I am going to say it is a Grizzly Bear. Didn’t Forrest say something about re-introducing those to New Mexico or something???:

    At least 25 species of wild mammals have been documented in Los Cerrillos, including black bear, jackrabbit, cottontail, rock squirrel, bobcats, coyote, mule deer, porcupine, four species of bats, numerous rodents, reptiles, amphibians, and innumerable invertebrates (Whitaker 1980). In other areas of the greater Galisteo Basin, mammals include the cottontail, jackrabbit, chipmunk, pocket gopher, prairie dog, western harvest mouse, deer mouse, and wood rat. Larger mammals include porcupines, antelope, deer, raccoons, badgers, coyotes, black bears, long tailed weasels, mountain lions, and bobcats. The gray wolf, grizzly bear, mountain lion, elk, and beaver were formerly present in the Sandia Mountains to the east of the basin.

    Just kidding!!!! But it DOES look like a badger…

    • E* says:

      Jenny – Yep! Forrest said that,…about the grizzlies,…here:

      Dear Forrest,
      Well no luck on that this weekend. I really cant do much on icy ground though. The area was gated closed so my hubby went in alone. While he was out looking he got stalked by a mountain lion. In the daytime, how unusual. Must mean there isnt alot of game around? Now we understand the forest services need to post info on mountain lions in that area.

      Glad you are not giving up Geri. I have a plan that will re-introduce grizzlies in New Mexico They will help keep the mountain lion population in check so you won’t have to worry when you search. f

    • Holly Cairns says:

      Yeah! Prairie dog!!! I like that answer.

  12. spallies says:

    Jenny, what a wonderful story… That is indeed a very special treasure… I can only imagine how amazing San Lazaro must be! I am not sure exactly what your treasure looks like… Three things came to mind… 1. Platyapus 2. Tool for rounding the top of a pottery bowl 3. A can opener :). Thank you for sharing with us!

  13. Jdiggins says:

    Jenny, you lucky, lucky dog! 🙂
    I think it looks like a dinosaur.
    I think Giorgio Tsoukalis would agree. 🙂

  14. deb says:

    LOL I didnt remember he posted that. That was me in the email. I guess he tried to protect me from my own craziness! Hahaha

    Jenny, the treasure was spending time with Forrest. I would love to have been in your shies. You are one lucky lady. 🙂

  15. deb says:

    E* I am not writing a whole lot lately. Its good to see you still around. 🙂

  16. Candice says:

    Did forest go back and retrieve his treasure yet? Is this puzzle still going, can I join? I read somewhere that he might retrieve it if there wasn’t enough interest.

    • Shawn says:

      The chase is going strong as far as I can tell with many blogs to choose from. Recently Forrest stated that someone may have solved 4 clues. I don’t know what you mean by interest, are your talking about value or interest accruing on the chest. He did say this but it sounds like you have your facts messed up. I think if he decided to recover it he’d let us all know.

      “When the value gets to $10 million I’m going back to get it.”

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