Protect cultural treasures – honor Pueblo people and Puebloan artifacts

TAOS, N.M.— On January 18, 2022, the Bureau of Land Management found vandalism on 10 petroglyphs within the Area of Critical Environment Concern managed by the Bureau of Land Management in La Cienega, NM.  The La Cieneguilla Petroglyphs, some of which may be up to 8,000 years old, are located on the ancestral homelands of the Pueblo people, west of Santa Fe and are protected by the National Historic Preservation Act, the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, and the Galisteo Basin Archaeological Sites Protection Act. 

Today, the site is managed for recreation and the purpose of public education, interpretation, and stewardship of our nation’s cultural history. The BLM partners with New Mexico SiteWatch that has a network of volunteers who care for and conduct patrols, making this one of the most patrolled sites. SiteWatch previously documented two violations to the petroglyphs when they were defaced with graffiti. Under the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, people who damage cultural sites may be charged with a felony, up to two years in prison, and $20,000 per charge.  

“We are actively investigating the defacement of these cultural properties and other crimes on all public lands,” stated BLM Taos Field Manager Pamela Mathis. “We are asking for information and that families have a dialogue about protecting and honoring New Mexico treasures.” 

The agency is planning to complete in 2022 additional public education and interpretation of the cultural history, a sign inventory and installation of signs, a reproduction of the La Cieneguilla interpretive brochure, creation of a trail description and trail map, and continue regular patrols.  

The BLM reminds visitors that it is both illegal to damage archaeological sites and disrespectful to the heritage of those whose ancestors created these images. While BLM has increased the use of surveillance and monitoring at La Cieneguilla Petroglyphs, with the increased use of public lands over the last two years, public education and environmental stewardship is our strongest tool. If you witness illegal activity and acts of vandalism on public lands, please do not confront individuals or groups, rather – take note of their appearance, vehicle type and color, and a license plate if you can safely do so. The information can be reported immediately to BLM dispatch at 1-800-637-9152.  

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

Release Date


Bureau of Land Management


Taos Field Office


Jillian Aragon