moab birthing panel vandalism
Photo credit: Jody Patterson

Famous Moab Petroglyph Vandalized With Graffiti, BLM Issues $10K Reward

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 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.

moab birthing panel vandalism
Photo credit: Jody Patterson

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.

Adam Ruggiero

Adam Ruggiero is the Editor In Chief of GearJunkie.

Adam has been covering daily news and writing about cycling, camping, hiking, and gear of all kinds for 15+ years. Prior to that, Adam lived in Hawaii and Puerto Rico, at which time he realized he’d never have a “normal job.” His pastimes — farming, bike racing, and fitness — provided a gateway to all manner of physical challenges and recreation outdoors.

Based in Kansas City, MO, Adam tests as much gear as he can get his hands, feet (and dog) into each and every day. As editor in chief, he works to maintain GearJunkie’s voice, style, and commitment to accurate and expert reporting across every category.