‘Visions of the Ancestors’: Visual and auditory production on rock art of Southeaster Utah coming to Nevada City | TheUnion.com

‘Visions of the Ancestors’: Visual and auditory production on rock art of Southeaster Utah coming to Nevada City

“Visions of the Ancestors: Native American Cultures and their Rock Art in Southeastern Utah,” will be offered on Friday, Oct. 18 by John Noxon and Deborah Marcus. The free public event, which is sponsored by Friends of Sierra Rock Art, takes place at Nevada City’s Madelyn Helling library at 7 p.m.

This stunning, professionally produced, visual and auditory production was funded by the Utah Endowment for the Humanities and the White Mesa Ute Tribe. It was created by Noxon and Marcus. Numerous petroglyphs (pecked images) and pictographs (painted images) from different Native American cultures will be shown.

The couple created “Visions of the Ancestors” in 1983 to educate the public and reduce vandalism to cultural sites, and its emphasis on appreciating and protecting cultural resources is just as needed today as in the 80s. It has been presented to school children, Native American groups, federal and state land management agencies, civic organizations, and many others.

Noxon and Marcus were first exposed to Native American paintings and carvings in Zion National Park in 1975. Intrigued, they sought scholarly information about these enigmatic images.  To their dismay, the professionals did not regard rock art as a cultural resource worth studying.

This realization motivated them to document rock art so it could be studied as a legitimate cultural and archaeological resource. Armed with a grant from the national Endowment for the Humanities and sponsorship from the San Francisco State University Anthropology Department, they began a new career.

Over the years, they received a total of eighteen grants and contracts to study, document, and write about this important resource. As a result, they produced numerous reports, mongraphs, and presentations. They also created photographic collections held in trust by universities, museums, and land management agencies for research and education.

Much of their research was done in southeast Utah, an area with concentrations of some of the finest rock images in the world. When they realized that the vandalism that occurs at the sites was frequently done by local residents, they sought to learn why. What they discovered was that Utah school children were not educated about the unique nature and values of Native American culture.

To address this problem, the duo created “Visions of the Ancestors,” which was approved for use in the Utah state school’s history and social sciences curriculum. As part of an MS degree from Utah State University, Noxon created a facilitator’s manual for public school teachers.

During the Friday night presentation, there will be time for discussion and questions.

The event is offered in coordination with Archaeology Month, which occurs in California every October.

Friends of Sierra Rock Art was founded in 1990. It works with the Tahoe National Forest, other agencies, and Native Americans to protect regional petroglyphs. FSRA is the first non-professional organization to have received the Society for California Archaeology’s prestigious Helen C. Smith award for contributions to California archaeology.

For more information, contact Bill Drake at 530-265-2084. FSRA’s website is http://www.sierrarockart.com.

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