Monday, October 1, 2018


On September 24, 2018, I had the opportunity to make a long postponed, but highly anticipated, visit to Canyon's of the Ancients National Monument in southwest Colorado. Previous to driving down that way I had sent a couple of e-mails to the park's manager, to ask for advice on rock art sites that I could visit for RockArtBlog. The e-mails were sent roughly three and two weeks ahead of the scheduled visit which I assumed would allow adequate time for her to check out RockArtBlog and respond to me. I pointed out that a number of years ago I had been on the schedule for a rock art field trip to Canyon of the Ancients that was arranged through the monument staff, but I had to miss it when something came up that required my return to Denver. I just wanted to make up for that missed opportunity. Unfortunately, I received no response to either inquiry. This led to a phone call one week before the visit (which was not answered in person) where I left a message on her receiver with my phone number asking her to call me back.

The next day I sent an e-mail to the BLM press office and they forwarded it to the monument to be answered. I then received an e-mail which essentially claimed that there was little rock art to see, anyway, and all of the sites were closed except one called Painted Hand Pueblo which has some painted hand prints. Now I have, in the past, seen rock art sites in Mancos Canyon, and also in Hovenweep which is immediately adjacent to Canyons of the Ancients, but I was asked to believe that this large area in the most heavily petroglyph and pictograph decorated part of the state has virtually no rock art.

On Sunday, September 24, we went to the Anasazi Heritage Center outside of Mancos, Colorado, which serves as the visitor center for Canyons of the Ancients. I inquired with a very nice young lady behind the desk who confirmed that they have thousands of rock art sites, and yes, they are all closed, with no reason given. I asked about Painted Hand Pueblo which I was told I could visit and she said that it is now closed too. She gave me a map to Newspaper Rock near Monticello, Utah.

Now, I don't claim to be some famous and important and powerful political figure, I am certainly not a wealthy political donor, but I do claim, at some modest level, to have academic credentials in the field of rock art studies, based upon 40 years of serious studies and analysis of the subject, a number of published papers and many presentations, and nearly 500 columns written on RockArtBlog. All I asked for was a modicum of professional courtesy - I got none (by the way I also asked my congressman to help me - he never responded).

Unfortunately, this brings up many questions about the power of public servants and officials who do not wish to go to the trouble to serve the public. If Canyons of the Ancients is sworn to protect these ancient markings from academic inquiry, what in the world are they keeping them for? Now we hear that oil and gas drilling is being contemplated on National Monuments, but apparently not academic studies. My only conclusion can be that I had the bad luck to run across a so-called "public servant" who is way too self-important to actually serve the public, so I will be sharing no rock art with you from Canyons of the Ancients.

No comments:

Post a Comment