Five Native American petroglyph panels that were STOLEN last fall from an eastern Sierra site that is sacred to Native Americans were recovered by federal authorities who acted on a tip! The location of the panels was disclosed in an anonymous letter to the authorities. By failing to sign the letter, its writer walked away from a $9,000 reward, which suggests that the letter may have come from the thieves, themselves!
The investigators believe that the thieves used chisels, ladders, electric generators, and power saws to remove the rock panels from cliffs in the high-desert region known as Volcanic Tableland, which is about 15 miles north of Bishop, California. The thieves gouged holes in the rock and cut slabs of rock that were up to 15 feet above ground and two feet high and wide.
The theft was reported to the BLM last Oct. 31 by visitors to the area, where Native Americans had carved hundreds of lava boulders and cliffs with spiritual renderings: concentric circles, deer, rattlesnakes, bighorn sheep and hunters with bows and arrows.
The site, which is still used by the local Paiute Indians for ceremonies, is protected under the Archaeological Resources Protection Act and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Authorities said the petroglyphs were probably worth no more than $500 to $1,500 each.
But they are priceless to Native Americans, who regard the massive tableaux as a window into the souls of their ancestors.
Bernadette Lovato, manager of the BLM field office in Bishop said the petroglyphs may eventually be put on public display, “but that will be up to Paiute-Shoshone tribal leaders.”
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