I heartily support and endorse the decision to close a small portion of Arches National Park because of recent graffiti on a sandstone wall. As a matter of fact, I support any and all efforts to protect every site containing our priceless history.
The author of the letter, whom we hope is simply ignorant of the historical, archeological, and ethnic significance of such ancient writings, first refers to the ancient authors as “Anasazi” – a racial slur of nearly the same magnitude to the ancients as the “N” word is to many contemporary Americans. And just as this derisive term, which was acceptable to most folks in the Deep South for decades, has virtually disappeared from contemporary conversation, I would suggest we strive to use the proper term, Hisatsinom, for these ancient people.
This racial slur (most likely inadvertent) is then compounded by the letter’s author referring to these ancient writings as “graffiti.” Many of us realize that these are not only the records of the Hisatsinom migrations but they often document significant events in their lives, serve as warnings, and indicate where water and other valuable resources may be found. They were written because these people received directions from their god to leave their mark on the land to show they were there. Defacing these writings is akin to carving on Michelangelo’s Pieta or spray-painting the Sistine Chapel!
We live in an area that is rich in the history of the ancients. Their descendants live amongst us, go to school with our children, and worship in our churches. They cherish their heritage just as much as you cherish yours. Might I suggest folks spend some time studying the history of these people and respect the richness their ancient culture has to offer? We might all benefit.
—Ronald S. Regehr