Federal authorities are investigating the vandalism of an American Indian petroglyph at Catalina State Park near Tucson that occurred sometime in January.
“Sometime between January 9 and 21, a boulder with a petroglyph, a carved design sometimes referred to as “rock art,” was pushed over and displaced from its original location,” the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service said in a statement on February 9. “Vegetation near the boulder was also damaged, including uprooted cacti and cut or broken tree limbs.”
The desecration was discovered by a Catalina staff member who was surveying the park with a volunteer from Arizona Site Stewards, an organization that monitors archaeological sites on public land. Arizona’s public land managers sponsor the group, which assists state and federal agencies in keeping an eye on ancient sites.
Since the site is on Coronado National Forest Service land, disturbing it is a federal crime, Tucson News Now noted. The penalty ranges from six months in jail and a $5,000 fine to one year in jail and/or a $20,000 fine, Coronado National Forest Spokeswoman Heidi Schewel told Tucson News Now.
The U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigations unit is investigating, and anyone with information is urged to call the Coronado National Forest Supervisor's Office at (520) 388-8300.
The petroglyph may belong to the Hohokam culture, Schewel said, emphasizing such objects’ importance to history.
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"These artifacts are related to past cultures,” Schewel told Tucson News Now. “And the history is important. But so are the connections to people still living today who wouldn't want to see their past be disturbed in any way. We are asking the public if anybody was in that area during that time period and saw something that might have been suspicious up on a trail, in the parking lot, anywhere, anything that just didn't look right, please call us."