Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Challenges. Discussion »
BISHOP, CALIFORNIA At least six petroglyphs were cut out of a major rock ceremonial site on the Volcanic Tableland, north of Bishop, California. The petroglyphs are some 3,500 years old, so the artwork on them is irreplaceable.
Damaged Rock Art at the Petroglyphs
on the Volcanic Tableland
In addition to the stolen panels, dozens of other petroglyphs were damaged by the concrete saws. The stolen panels were discovered on October 31, according to the US Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management's David Christy, who works out of the Bishop Field Office.
“This was not done by a group of casual arrowhead gatherers,”
Christy told the Native News Network on Tuesday afternoon.
"They had to have brought in ladders, a concrete cutting saw, which would have required generators to do what they did."
The area is still used by the nearby federally recognized Bishop Paiute Tribe for ceremonies.
“These petroglyphs in our language, rock writings are held sacred to the people here,”
said Raymond Andrews, a Paiute who serves as the tribal historical preservation officer for the Bishop area.
“Our ancestors etched messages in them, so they are sacred People go and pray to them and try to seek guidance,”
said Andrews to NBC.
Image Identifies a Section of the Rock Wall
that has been Removed
The Bureau of Land Management Bishop Field Office is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the responsible individuals who damaged petroglyph panels at a major rock art site on the Volcanic Tableland north of Bishop. The perpetrators removed or damaged rock art at five locations within the site.
“The individuals who did this have destroyed an irreplaceable part of our national cultural heritage,”
said Bernadette Lovato, BLM Bishop Field Office Manager.
"We have increased surveillance of our sites and are working with other agencies to bring the responsible parties to justice and to recover the petroglyphs."
Greg Haverstock, Bishop Field Office Archaeologist, said
"the damaged site is a pristine example of Great Basin rock art and hunter-gatherer domestic, religious and subsistence activities. The location of archaeological materials, feature remains, and the rock art clearly portray the activities that occurred at the site during the past 3,500 years."
The site is protected under the Archaeological Resources Protection Act and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Archaeological Resources Protection Act violations can be prosecuted as felonies and first time offenders can be fined up to $20,000 and imprisoned for up to one year. Second time felony offenders can be fined up to $100,000 and imprisoned for up to 5 years.
In addition, Section 7 of Archaeological Resources Protection Act enables federal or Indian authorities to prosecute violators using civil fines, either in conjunction with or independent of any criminal prosecution. Section 8 (b) of the statute allows the court or civil authority to use forfeiture of vehicles and equipment used in the violation of the statute as another means of punishment against convicted violators.
Anyone with information can contact Melody Stehwien at 1.760.937.0301.
posted November 20, 2012 4:50 pm est