Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Petroglyph Theft

via Norman:


pwax said...

The expected emotional discussion is underway on the NEARA bulletin board. Here is my contribution:

How does secrecy help? The parallels with New England stone sites are vague.

Petroglyphs are considered "art" and there is a lucrative market for them. But things like rock piles are probably not anybody's idea of a souvenir. Here was a heartbreak: I have seen several sites destroyed by logging and have read about sites destroyed by highway development and housing development. I have also heard about New Agers vandalizing sites, but without evidence that site location was divulged or published before hand. Recently EMC, in Southboro MA, has been building roads through sites.

Remember Pratt Hill? Bad things happen. But it would be a good idea to recognize the worst threats. For example: you may know ten sites and want to keep them secret. But there are 500 sites nearby, which you do not know and cannot protect, and which are going to get bulldozed anyway. How does secrecy help?

The town of Acton has been active in adding rock pile sites to it's trail system. They also put the "potato cave" chamber on their trails. It would be worth asking Linda MacElroy about her experience leading those efforts. The first rock pile site to be cleaned up and added to the trails remains otherwise untouched several years later. A second site that was cleared did get slightly vandalized: someone stacked some rocks, borrowing from the adjacent rock piles. It appears this was caused by ignorance not greed. I think Acton repaired the damage and continues with plans to put other sites on their trails. That town has an active land stewardship program and is pretty active in educating people about these ceremonial resources. They have dozens of sites in Acton and many hundereds of individual structures. They will probably lose a few but if, in the end, everyone who lives in the town is aware of this resource, maybe it is worth it.

The problem in New England is ignorance not greedy treasure hunting.

Finally, looks at what the Indians are saying about this topic. They are in favor of public awareness.

Norman said...

Advertising sites is a conundrum. I would probably not mention the location of sites that are fragile -- those that have superbly constructed cairns that could be easily damaged by people climbing on them, such as at the Oley Hills site. And I would not describe stone mounds that are probable burials, such as those with manitou stones in front of them.