December 23, 2007

Rock art in the 'burbs

Ancient petroglyphs rest among suburban sprawlOdd as it sounds to don't-touch-the-art purists, in much of archaeology-rich Utah such a park is about the best that pre-Columbian buffs can hope for. The state's fastest-growing cities are gobbling up millennium-old rock art.

"This is our past. It's like our library," said Dorena Martineau, cultural resources director for the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah. Homebuilders long have surrounded or even dynamited the desert boulders that tell the old tales. Martineau's late father photographed and interpreted countless rocks before two Washington County dams flooded the area. "It's really upsetting to us, but what can we do?"

Now housing developers are capitalizing on and marketing petroglyph parks that give subdivisions a distinction but inevitably suck some of the soul out of sacred landscapes. It's a trend that many who love the panels of blocky stick people, bighorns and virtual space creatures believe is the only hope in a state lacking historic protections on private lands.
Comment:  If we're not destroying Indian petroglyphs, we're building freeways through them or surrounding them with suburbs. That's progress for you.

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