Native American Art

BLM Recovers Stolen Petroglyphs Taken From Volcanic Tableland

Friday, February 01 2013 10:46   Preservation

An anonymous tip has led to the recovery of five Native American petroglyph panels cut out from a major rock art site on the Volcanic Tableland north of Bishop, California in late 2012.

"We got all five of the panels back," David Christy, a spokesperson for Bureau of Land Management (BLM), told Travel & History Magazine on Feb. 1, 2013. "Our folks got the anonymous tip, and we went out and got them."

petroglyph_tablelandChristy would not say where the panels were picked up, or any of the circumstances of their recovery. No additional damage appears to have done to the petroglyph art, he said.

A suspect or suspects have not been identified in the theft, he added, and the BLM is continuing its investigation, "so we cannot release further details at this time."

Reward funds totaling $9,000 have been donated or pledged for information leading to the conviction of the responsible party(ies).

"Recovery of the petroglyphs was a priority from day one," said Bernadette Lovato, BLM Bishop Field Office manager. "I am pleased that they were returned. Now we need the public's help to identify the vandals responsible for damaging the site."

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," he said.

This site is one of the most significant rock art sites in the region and is still used by the local Paiute for ceremony.

Christy said security has been beefed up at the site, and surveillance cameras are being added.

The BLM still is having problems with visitors picking up and taking ancient arrowheads from the site.

"The public is not allowed to do that," he said, "and there are fines if someone is caught taking arrowheads."

The BLM is training volunteers to keep an eye on the site, and is asking the public to report any suspicious activities. "We want to make people more aware to report something they see, to tell us about it."

Anybody with information about the panel thefts or vandalism is asked to contact BLM law enforcement at (760) 937-0301 or (760) 937-0657. The suspect(s) may have experience and access to masonry cutting tools.

The petroglyph site is protected under the Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA) and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. This site is one of the most significant rock art sites in the region and is still used by the local Paiute for ceremony.

Convictions on ARPA violations can result in fines and/or prison terms. In addition, ARPA provides for civil fines, either in conjunction with or independent of any criminal prosecution, and forfeiture of vehicles and equipment used in the violation of the statute.

To see our original story, click here.


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