'A crime against the eternal and unseen'

While we worry about preserving history at places like Jack's Bar and the departed Mapes Hotel, some vandals come along and steal petroglyphs from boulders on Peavine Peak.

In the context of history, the petroglyphs are about eight times more significant than the edifices of modern civilization. They date to about 1200 A.D. and are beyond value.

"These messages are the essential elements and evidence of our existence and we view their theft as a reflection of the ultimate contempt for creation, this land and its sacred heritage," said Brian Wallace, chairman of the Washoe Tribe. "It is an unutterable crime against the eternal and unseen."

A day after a reward was offered by the Washoe Tribe, U.S. Forest Service, Reno-Sparks Indian Colony and the Nevada Rock Art Foundation, a tip led authorities to the petroglyphs in the front yard of a Reno home.

The petroglyphs, carved in rock, had been chipped away from boulders on federal land on Peavine sometime in August.

Investigators haven't said yet who took the petroglyphs or why, but it doesn't appear to be a particularly brilliant crime. It's on par with growing marijuana as your front-lawn hedge.

Perhaps the thieves were blissfully ignorant of the federal Archaeological Resources Protection Act. They won't be after they find out it carries penalties up to two years in prison and $20,000 in fines.

Worse, though, would be the kind of ignorance which allows people to destroy a part of Northern Nevada's deepest roots, its American Indian heritage. Perhaps this crime will draw enough attention that everyone will know to leave such treasures untouched in the future.


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