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  • The Meaning of Monument

    Aaron Wright, Preservation Archaeologist
    Aaron Wright

    (June 11, 2017)—Monuments come in different shapes and sizes. For many, monuments bring to mind plaques or statues that commemorate some historical figure or event. It is important to recognize that places may also be monuments—from a dot on a map, as with the Four Corners Monument, or expansive tracts of natural landscape, such as the Grand Canyon, which was a national monument before it became a national park.

    What constitutes them as monuments is not their size, but the stories they tell and the values they enshrine. The sizes, shapes, contours, and colors of our nation’s monuments vary considerably, and justly so, because our nation strives to honor the stories and values of all of its citizens in its public lands.

    Bears Ears

    Bears Ears. Image: RE Burrillo

    Some of our nation’s stories and values cannot fit on a plaque, nor are they conveniently bound to a building or a memorial. Rather, they require space in order to fully recognize them. Bears Ears National Monument is such a place. The stories and values commemorated by and protected in Bears Ears are entwined in the landscape. This is perhaps most apparent in the many different styles of rock art layered across and interwoven through this landscape. And rock art is just one of many of the “objects” that are honored within the boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument.

    As a mode of personal and cultural expression, people craft rock art to convey stories, values, and beliefs. From an archaeological perspective, different styles and traditions of rock art point toward shifting cultural identities through time, each of which has its own stories and values, some shared and others unique. The diversity of rock art styles that come together in Bears Ears National Monument is a testament to the depth, richness, and interconnectedness of this cultural landscape over millennia.

    In his 2010 book about Fremont rock art, which is one of the styles represented in Bears Ears National Monument, Steven Simms wrote, “The symbols and figures…are part of an ideological fabric stretched across a sacred landscape…”

    We think these maps and photographs show that well—a continuous, dynamic series of ideological fabrics woven across a sacred landscape. Taking a scissors to this tapestry would diminish it into frayed scraps.

    Click on any map or image to enlarge it. You may also download the maps (PDF).

    Bears Ears Region Archaic

    Archaic: ~ 8000 B.C. to A.D. 700. Map: Catherine Gilman. Click to download this map as a PDF here.

    Archaic Rock Art

    Pictographs in the San Juan Anthropomorphic Style of the Basketmaker Tradition. Image: RE Burrillo

    Archaic Rock Art

    Pictographs in the Chinle Representational Style of the Basketmaker Tradition. Image: RE Burrillo

    Archaic Rock Art

    Petroglyphs of the San Juan Anthropomorphic Style of the Basketmaker Tradition. Image: RE Burrillo

    Composite pictograph/petroglyphs in the San Juan Anthropomorphic Style of the Basketmaker Tradition. Image: RE Burrillo

    Cedar Mesa Archaic rock art

    Petroglyphs in the Western Archaic Tradition. Image: Jonathan Bailey

    Cedar Mesa Archaic rock art

    Pictographs in the Barrier Canyon Style. Image: Jonathan Bailey

    Cedar Mesa Archaic rock art

    Pictographs in the Archaic Polychrome Abstract Style. Image: Jonathan Bailey

    Cedar Mesa Archaic rock art

    Petroglyphs in the Glen Canyon Linear Style. Image: Jonathan Bailey

    Cedar Mesa Basketmaker Rock Art

    Pictographs in the San Juan Anthropomorphic Style of the Basketmaker Tradition. Image: Jonathan Bailey

    Cedar Mesa Basketmaker Rock Art

    Petroglyphs in the La Sal Style of the Basketmaker Tradition. Image: Jonathan Bailey

    Cedar Mesa Basketmaker Rock Art

    Petroglyph in the La Sal Style of the Basketmaker Tradition. Image: Jonathan Bailey

    Cedar Mesa Archaic rock art

    Petroglyph in the Glen Canyon Linear Style. Image: Jonathan Bailey

    Cedar Mesa Basketmaker Rock Art

    Pictographs in the San Juan Anthropomorphic Style of the Basketmaker Tradition. Image: Jonathan Bailey

     

    Bears Ears Region Formative Map

    Formative: A.D. 700 to 1500. Map: Catherine Gilman. Click to download this map as a PDF here.

    Formative Rock Art

    Pictographs of the Kayenta Representational Style within the Plateau Pueblo Tradition. Image: RE Burrillo

    Cedar Mesa Formative Rock Art

    Petroglyph in the Kayenta Representational Style of the Plateau Pueblo Tradition. Image: Jonathan Bailey

    Cedar Mesa Formative Rock Art

    Petroglyphs in the Kayenta Representational Style of the Plateau Pueblo Tradition. Image: Jonathan Bailey

    Cedar Mesa Formative Rock Art

    Petroglyph in the Kayenta Representational Style of the Plateau Pueblo Tradition. Image: Jonathan Bailey

    Cedar Mesa Formative Rock Art

    Petroglyphs in the Eastern Fremont Tradition. Image: Jonathan Bailey

    Cedar Mesa Formative Rock Art

    Petroglyphs in the Southern San Rafael Style of the Eastern Fremont Tradition. Image: Jonathan Bailey

     

    Bears Ears Region Historic Map

    Historic period: 1500-1900. Click to download a PDF of this map here.

    Historic Rock Art

    Petroglyphs in the Ute Representational Style. Image: Bill Doelle

    Historic Rock Art

    Petroglyph in the Navajo Representational Style. Image: Bill Doelle

    Historic Rock Art

    Ute Representational Style. Image: Bill Doelle

    Historic Rock Art

    Ute Representational Style petroglyph superimposed on earlier Plateau Pueblo Tradition petroglyphs. Image: Bill Doelle

    Cedar Mesa Historic Rock Art

    Ute Representational Style. Image: Jonathan Bailey

    Historic Rock Art

    Ute Representational Style. Image: Bill Doelle

    Historic Rock Art

    Ute Representational Style. Image: Bill Doelle

    Historic Rock Art

    Navajo Representational Style. Image: RE Burrillo

    Cedar Mesa Historic Rock Art

    Navajo Representational Style. Image: Jonathan Bailey

     

    With special thanks to Jonathan Bailey, RE Burrillo, and Polly Schaafsma.

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    5 Responses to “The Meaning of Monument”

    1. Mariel Q Davis Says:

      Bears Ears knits together a national forest and two national monuments. It has unified the wishes of four Native American peoples, and over a million U.S. citizens, who want to preserve the land, the plants, the animals, the cultural significance, and the archaeological treasures the monument holds. To try to pull it apart, or even to cut away certain “less necessary” areas, is an insult to every person who values it. It must be kept intact.

    2. George Maloof Says:

      Bears Ears is a national and natural treasure not only to Native Americans, but to all of us as the sacred history of this land and all who still and will inhabit America. Protecting these lands is protecting the very soul of America.

    3. Mary Manning Says:

      Bears Ears, Gold Butte, Grand Staircase Escalante, the Basin and Range National Monument represent the tenuous threads of our prehistory and our history. Unless all of us join the Native American tribes who united to preserve these lands, we sell our souls and loot a rich heritage all of us need to experience and remember. Knowing these wild places are protected for the next seven generations is an important aim for all of us.

    4. Michael Piontkowski Says:

      What are the citations for the terms used for the rock art – “Eastern Fremont TRADITION”, ” Uncompahgre Tradition”, Western “Archaic Tradition”?

    5. Kate Says:

      Hi, Michael. Aaron Wright sent this reply:

      Great question, Mike. These maps build off a series of maps in “Reframing the Past: Rock Art Styles across the Southwest,” an article by myself and Polly Schaafsma published in the spring 2016 issue of Archaeology Southwest Magazine (vol. 30, no. 2). We use the term “tradition” to lump more regional or less understood styles.
      The Eastern Fremont Tradition includes several regions styles, including Southern Rafael, Northern Rafael, Classic Vernal, and La Sal styles. The Uncompahgre Tradition is new to this map, but is based on the Uncompahgre Complex or Style described in Sally Cole’s Legacy on Stone (1990, Johnson Books). The distribution, date range, and distinction of Umcompahgre region rock art is poorly understood, so we opted to refer to it as a tradition. Rock art within the Umcomphagre Tradition is more akin to Archaic rock art in the Rocky Mountains than to defined styles of Archaic rock art in the Southwest, so it was not covered in our 2016 issue.
      The Western Archaic Tradition was proposed by Ken Hedges in a 1982 paper, “Great Basin Rock Art Styles: A Revisionist View,” and was expanded upon by Henry Wallace in his monograph Petroglyphs of the Picacho Mountains, South Central, Arizona (1986, Institute for American Research). Finding aspects of the Great Basin Abstract Style, as defined by Heizer and Baumhoff’ in Prehistoric Rock Art of Nevada and Eastern California (1962, University of California Press), widely distributed across the western U.S., and with numerous regional variations, subsequent scholars have found the Western Archaic Tradition a better concept when looking outside of the Great Basin. Wallace published a recent summary of this tradition in the 2016 issue of Archaeology Southwest Magazine, entitled “The Western Archaic Tradition in Context.”

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