Humans have inhabited North America for several millennia and remnants of these ancient cultures have been discovered throughout the country. Many of these places are considered sacred by Native American people. Disturbing cultural sites destroys our shared heritage, a non-renewable public resource. This may render them useless for study and observation in the future, and shows disregard for early American cultures. Even touching rock art can hasten its decay. Federal regulations, such as, the Archeological Resource Protection Act, protect all archaeological sites and artifacts. Likewise, antlers, fossils, and plants are best left in place for others to enjoy.
For at least 12,000 years, Native American cultures have called the Owens Valley home and were attracted to the Tableland because of its abundant resources. Almost every plant and animal resource found on the Tableland were used by Native Americans. There food sources included indian rice grass, desert needle grass, great basin wildrye, waterfowl, deer, freshwater mollusks, and a variety of native desert fishes. Most recently, the Owens Valley Paiute Indians occupied the area prior to white settlement. In addition to petroglyphs, other prehistoric sites in the area include temporary camps, lithic scatters, and hunting blinds. Semipermanent village sites may occur in the area as well where house rings and storage units can be found.
Many cultural sites are not immediately evident. Cliff bases may have been prehistoric shelter or camping spots. Look for blackened soils or rocks from ancient fires under overhangs, chert/flint chippings, and evidence of stone or wood structures. Please do not move anything in such places, because context is just as important to archaeologists as the objects themselves. Please report any suspected cultural sites to the Bishop Field Office.