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Petroglyphs Offer Glimpse of Early Native American Life

Native American petroglyphs offer a glimpse of Native American history in Norther California.
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Petroglyphs in remote areas of Northern California offer glimpses of the Maidu and Nisenan tribes that used to inhabit the area. U.S. Forest Service archaeologist Nolan Smith is assigned to the Foresthill Ranger Station and manages the petroglyphs in the American River ranger district. He told that the various designs of petroglyphs are between 1,500 and 4,000 years old.

“We get snake-like lines, sinuous-type lines, rakes, concentric circles, circles with lines radiating out like a sunburst or moon, bear paw drawings—all pecked in stone using other rocks,” Smith told the Journal. “One thing we have not been able to find is any of the tools used to make the petroglyphs. The assumption is that they used a harder type of stone to make them.”

But the petroglyphs are in danger. Threats are posed by mother nature and humans; a freeze can cause rock breakage and vandalism can also be a problem. Vandalism is kept in check by Smith and by the fact that the petroglyphs are in remote wooded areas and locations are not revealed to the public. There are places where the public can view petroglyphs though, places like the Maidu Museum and Historic Site in Roseville, California. The museum has a trail so visitors can view the petroglyphs as they were found.

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