It only took a day, but we now have a statement from the Bureau of Land Management on the defacement of Birthing Rock.
Final story edit
Word began circulating Monday afternoon, April 26 that Birthing Rock, a rock imagery site along Kane Creek Road, had been vandalized. The words “white power,” and an apparent misspelling of “white” that was crossed out, were written on top of the scene. Other profanities were also written and drawn.
The vandalism is the second publicized instance this month of rock art in Moab being damaged, the earlier after a climber bolted a 1,000-year-old petroglyph near Arches National Park.
The Bureau of Land Management Canyon Country District is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for the vandalism. Anyone with information can reach Bureau law enforcement at 435-259-2131 or 800-722-3998. Remaining anonymous is an option.
Within Kane Creek, an area famous for its archaeology, Birthing Rock is the most prominent, according to Utah Public Archaeologist Elizabeth Hora. Hora said that the sandstone boulder shows evidence of human modification “going back thousands of years.”
“Most of the images, including the prominent figure of a woman giving birth, are attributed to the Fremont people (A.D. 450 - 1300),” Hora said. “The Fremont were the ancestors of modern Ute, Paiute, Pueblo (Hopi, Zuni, Acoma, etc), and Navajo peoples. In the Late Prehistoric period through the Historic Era (A.D. 1300 - 1850) we have identified Ute imagery as well.”
Following the incident, the Utah Division of History created a poster depicting the undamaged Birthing Rock with the words “The Future Is Watching; Be Awesome To The Past” above it.
The day after the vandalism became public, the Native-American-led nonprofit Diné Bikéyah held a scheduled call with The Access Fund, a not-for-profit rock-climbing advocacy group, to discuss the earlier rock art destruction.
Diné Bikéyah’s most notable work relates to preserving the Bears Ears National Monument as originally designated by President Barack Obama in the final days of his presidency.
Angelo Baco, the cultural resources coordinator for Diné Bikéyah, said that the meeting focused on the role that climbers play in preserving and respecting Native American rock imagery, but the unexpected sequel incident of rock art destruction also played into the discussion with climbers.
“The point I made is: Destruction of rock art panels is more than just offensive and revolting,” Baco said. He said that the “objectifying” of native peoples and associated destruction of their cultural artifacts constituted “inciting harm on me, my family, and my ancestors.”
Baco said that the call with The Access Fund brought over 1,000 live viewers, and the two groups are working on adapting the panel discussion into public resources to release later. The panel included Richard Gilbert of Colorado Springs, who said he bolted the rock art near Arches and has since received death threats in response to his admission.
Woody Lee, the executive director of Diné Bikéyah, called for healing in response to the news of Birthing Rock’s defacement. His organization, according to its website, “works toward healing of people and the Earth by supporting indigenous communities in protecting their culturally significant, ancestral lands.”
Of the person who wrote “white power” on top of the rock imagery panel in Kane Creek, Lee said “to have that kind of outrage, that person truly needs to be healed.”
I’m saving this for tomorrow because I started but haven’t finished reading the appeals and responses (because other stories took priority) and I want to make sure I am staying a day ahead of these posts.