Moab’s Birthing Rock, a cultural artifact dating back nearly 2,000 years, was blatantly vandalized with lewd images, slang, and the phrase ‘white power.’
Editor’s note: This article contains graphic imagery that some may find offensive.
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) officials in Utah are offering $10,000 for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual(s) responsible for vandalizing Moab’s famous Birthing Rock.
The BLM is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual(s) responsible. If you have any information concerning this vandalism, please contact BLM Law Enforcement at 435-259-2131 or 800-722-3998. You can remain anonymous.
— Bureau of Land Management Utah (@BLMUtah) April 28, 2021
The famed petroglyph scenes cover periods and cultures from the Anasazi in A.D. 1, to the Fremont people (A.D. 450 to 1250), and the Ute (A.D. 1200s to 1880), according to Climb Utah. But this week, visitors found the rock defaced with graphic imagery and offensive language.
Jody Patterson, a photographer and principal investigator at Montgomery Archaeological Consultants, uploaded photos of the graffiti Tuesday.
“Photographs of the recent vandalism at the Birthing Rock petroglyph site are making the rounds. Most of the photos show the worst of the worst (the racist slogan, phallus, etc.), but it looks like at least three panels were vandalized, including the iconic birthing glyph itself,” Patterson wrote in a post to the Facebook group Grand County Citizens Advocacy Council.
The images swept across social media Tuesday evening and met with widespread condemnation. The incident comes less than a month after a climber bolted over petroglyphs at Sunshine Slab in Moab. That individual promptly apologized and said he didn’t realize the cultural significance of the rock art.
Interior Eases Land Trust Designations for Tribes
In a related move Tuesday, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland issued Order 3400, a measure that promptly reversed Trump-era procedures the BLM said, “unnecessarily … increas[ed] the complexity of the decision-making process and caus[ed] delays” for land-into-trust decisions.
The order gave authority over the decision to place land into trust back to Bureau of Indian Affairs regional directors, which Haaland said intended to “uphold trust and treat responsibilities” to tribes.
“At Interior, we have an obligation to work with tribes to protect their lands and ensure that each tribe has a homeland where its citizens can live together and lead safe and fulfilling lives,” Haaland said in a statement. “Our actions today will help us meet that obligation and will help empower tribes to determine how their lands are used — from conservation to economic development projects.”
Placing lands into a trust helps tribes reacquire lands within or near their reservations, establish a land base for tribal communities, and clarify jurisdiction over their lands.
If you have any information on the recent vandalism at Birthing Rock, please contact BLM law enforcement at 435-259-2131 or 1-800-722-3998. Tips can remain anonymous.