Bishop, CA Petroglyphs at Bishop by Cave Art Gal

Apparently, a group of people (I’m assuming because how could 1 person pull this heist?) decided that the petroglyphs of the Paiute people in Bishop, CA, that had survived the elements for thousands of years, needed to move to a new location. And aside from taking 5 of the drawings with them, they managed to destroy several of the other remaining images.

Seriously, who wakes up one day and decides that what they should really do with their time before the sun sets is haul a concrete saw, ladder, and generator up on a hike so that they can add weight to haul back with drawings older than the European presence on the continent? And damage the ones they decided to leave behind just to ensure that future generations of people from around the world won’t get to experience the magnificence of an original people who still go to worship at the site.

I don’t even think that these people took lessons from the lady who restored the ecco homo picture of Jesus earlier this year. At least, though she failed spectacularly, her intentions were grounded in the desire to preserve an image that inspires many on the planet. These people must have been motivated by something else. Greed? Hoarder tendencies? Psychopathic levels of desire to inflict further insult to the Paiute people?

I don’t know. But I know that these thieves have images that belong to the Paiute people and everyone on the planet concerned with keeping our record on this planet in a form we can all access. And, because of their carelessness, since they obviously didn’t consider how stealing the carvings would affect everyone who cares about the preservation of our history, the people who go to visit the site in Bishop, CA, will have fewer instances where they can stand in awe.

Their actions demonstrate the level of thoughtlessness that I fear is becoming more prevalent. It could just be that my age is beginning to show, but it could also be that I just notice these stories more because my life experience connects them to me. Because these irreplaceable icons mark the path we as people have taken to get where we currently are in the journey. They are the photographs and ephemera in the scrapbook of humanity; the fragments that hold us together as we continue along the way.

Life passes so quickly and is quite fragile, and we need the tangible markers to show those who come after us where we’ve been so that we don’t forget. Each of these markers freeze the chaos and turmoil of life and trap it in a form that we can share. So when those markers are destroyed, we all lose, and it’s this irrevocable loss that makes me sad, when it can’t be helped (as with the Twelve Apostles), and makes me angry when it can, such as this instance.

Because how can a person be so selfish that they can’t share? This inability to share is why we can’t have nice things.

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