Saturday, April 21, 2018

Somethings Shouldn’t be Collected...

In the early 80’s, I went backpacking with three other firefighters to Utah’s Grand Gulch   region. It’s a beautiful canyon system featuring many rocky alcoves containing archeological wonders. On the hike, we came upon Turkey Pen Ruin. The site was substantial. There was an intact Kiva ( a round roofed ceremonial structure dug into the Earth ), a ladder leading down to the Kiva, tiny corn cobs, pot shards and a turkey pen. 

The turkeys weren’t utilized as the main dish at a pre-White Folks Thanksgiving Day Dinner. No. It was all about their feathers. The Ancient Ones used the plumage for making blankets and accessorizing their clothes. Turkeys were prized processions. 

We treated this outdoor museum with the respect it deserved. We took photos and nothing else. We walked away with a “how cool was that?” feeling. 

In 2012, I shouldered my backpack for a solo trip into Grand Gulch. I was looking forward to seeing Turkey Pen Ruin once again. Sadly, it had been ruined. The kiva, the ladder, the corn cobs, the pottery shards and the turkey pen were gone. Apparently, all had been plundered. The only things left were a few crumbly walls and rooms. 

I felt violated. Worse is the fact future generations have now been denied a “how cool was that?” moment at Turkey Pen Ruin. A few short sighted miscreants, vandals and clueless bastards screwed it up for all of us. A pox on them. 

I’ve visited many Ancient Ones ruins in the Southwest. Unfortunately the above story is not unique. Most of the sites have been demolished and plunked over. It’s gotten to the point where I’d rather hike to a rock art panel than a ruin site. It’s harder for the trouble makers to mess with pictographs and petroglyphs. 

Although they try. In Marble Canyon in Death Valley National Park, Bad People hauled in a battery powered drill for the purpose of creating modern day pictographs. Others scrawled on or nearby the ancient petroglyphs. 

Could someone please explain this antisocial behavior to me? Which leads me to another story...

A few years ago, I had the displeasure of being seated next to a hard drinking, dry coughing, turquoise wearing Wyoming drugstore cowboy at a group Happy Hour. He must have heard about the Wandering I do in the West. Between sips of his straight up whiskey, he asked me, “Ever come across Native Artifacts out there?” 

“Occasionally, but not that often. Most have been carted away by now.” 

He looked at me with Jack Daniel eyes and asked, “Well, do you keep them when you find them?”

“Hell No! First off, it’s against the law. (Archeological Resources Protection Act of 1979). Secondly, it’s wrong to take what really doesn’t belong to you. The artifacts found on Public Lands belong to everyone. Wouldn’t it be nice to have lots of people find an arrowhead on the ground than for one person to steal it?” 

He gave me a slurry response, “Well, that’s stupid. If you don’t take it the next person will.”

Folks! That’s the mindset which triggers the pilfering of Turkey Pen Ruin to happen. There’s too many people carrying feelings of entitlement. All for the sake of owning an old bauble. It’s a sad commentary about humanity. The future generations will understandably curse us once they discover what we’ve robbed them of.

Speaking of robbery. The Cedar Mesa/Grand Gulch area has recently been removed from National Monument status and protection. Shame on President Anti-Conservation and Secretary of Interior Toady Zinke  Your Grandkids will curse them too.

For further readings: “Finders Keepers” by Craig Childs 

For more blogs by opinionated W W J’s, please check out:

Don’t be a Meanie.  Leave the good stuff in place for everyone’s enjoyment.


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