Went out to see the petroglyphs yesterday and was shocked at how much vandalism and deterioration has taken place at the site. The rocks have darkened so badly that it’s difficult to see the petroglyphs, but that’s due to nature. The vandalism on the other hand…there are places that look like the rocks have been shattered and a couple of places where it looks like people chiseled off the top layer of stone to steal the petroglyph (see left. Below, how this same rock looked in 2007). I would say it was natural forces, the work of water and temperature causing cracks in the rocks, except that there are no pieces of the surface on the ground. It is terribly disappointing that people would do this. Those petroglyphs are 400 to 1200 years old, and they’ve been destroyed. Even if the thieves were careful about removing them, they’ve been removed from their context. Yeah, they’re cool prehistoric art, but so what? Part of the magic of this site and the designs was that there were so many of them in this one place. Literally hundreds of them on this small hillside. It is disturbing to come across evidence of the greediness and selfishness of people.
I also wonder if I was in anyway responsible for alerting these people to the presence of the petroglyphs by writing an article about them for one of the Reno publications. It makes me think that any kind of publicity for sites like this is not a good idea - the fewer people who know about them, the better. As much as I love having seen the petroglyph site, there’s a part of me that wishes the site hadn’t been opened up for public access. And as much as I would like to see other sites, it might be better if other sites were kept secret and off the public radar.
Today was a happier day - I went to the historical society today, looking for more information about the Reno story and how the narrative is constructed. What I was really looking for was whether the narrative begins with the Native Americans or with the westward expansion of the United States. There’s a little bit about the Native Americans, though most of it has to do with their history after westward expansion with examples of items that had been created for tourists. There is very little about the Shoshone and Paiute cultures as they existed prior to expansion. They have made an effort to represent the various ethnic groups that moved into Nevada with exhibits about Chinese and African Americans, but nothing about Mexican/Hispanic people or anything about gay culture. The latter really surprised me because Reno had a gay rodeo for many years, but the museum didn’t even mention it.
The trip has given me a lot to think about for the novel. As I’ve said before, I am an accumulative writer. My first draft is a skeleton. Then I put on the muscles and then the clothing. Last comes the accessories. I’m working on the accessories right now, the details that will underscore the themes of the novel.
And now, time to go to bed so I can get up and drive home tomorrow. And then…back to work putting words on paper.