Montana Outdoors

March 3, 2009

Pictures from the past

Filed under: Montana, Nature, Outdoors, Photography, Photos, Pictographs, Pictures — Tags: — montucky @ 7:19 pm

On a walk-about a few days ago I was elated when I came upon a group of pictographs on a sheltered section of cliff, and then greatly saddened when it became apparent that some of them have been severely vandalized.

I have not been able to uncover much information about these (other than they may be as old as two thousand years) and after seeing the damage that has been done here I have concluded it’s probably just as well that there is not much available.

I choose not to specify the location of these and will simply be content to show what they look like for those who may be interested.



This is one of the more

distinct paintings and

also one that shows where

someone tried to remove

it, succeeding

only to destroy part of it:





These are very vivid

in color because they are

sheltered by a rock




  1. That is really cool. It’s really like touching the past, isn’t it?


    Comment by wolf — March 4, 2009 @ 1:55 am

    • It is indeed, Wolf. That area gives me a distinct feeling of being in touch with those who painted there. Over the years I have spent many hours talking to different tribal members about their feeling about their history and their beliefs about the land and have a deep appreciation for their history.


      Comment by montucky — March 4, 2009 @ 9:24 am

  2. I always wonder what life was like for those that did the painting. A hundred generations ago! And for the vandals,.. how sad their life must be that they couldn’t appreciaste what they had found.


    Comment by Cedar — March 4, 2009 @ 5:28 am

    • Judging by the damage to the site, I would thing that it was done by people who were trying to remove (steal) the paintings for their own uses and their attempts were very primitive at best. That is a clear violation of tribal law, decent moral standards and I believe, Federal law as well, but they still do it.

      I do wonder especially what the thoughts were of those who created the paintings and what message they intended. If there were only a link to them! Tangible history of this area is so shallow!


      Comment by montucky — March 4, 2009 @ 9:30 am

  3. These are just wonderful. What a thrilling find. Thank you for sharing them with us!


    Comment by Patia — March 4, 2009 @ 9:53 am

    • I had heard these mentioned several times over the years and finally decided to try to find them. I now wonder if there are not more in the area and plan to spend a day in that area to see, hoping to find some that are more remote and possibly undamaged.


      Comment by montucky — March 4, 2009 @ 10:16 am

  4. absolutely amazing!!


    Comment by silken — March 4, 2009 @ 9:50 pm

    • They are! The paintings cause me to think a lot about those ancient people who lived here so long before we came on the scene. Many thanks to them for being good stewards of the land!


      Comment by montucky — March 4, 2009 @ 10:00 pm

  5. Having worked on 3 separate archeaological digs during my summers between skipping classes in college, I find this fascinating stuff.

    If you find more I’ll be looking forward to the recorded images.


    Comment by Pinhole — March 5, 2009 @ 10:28 am

    • I have been back to that area and looked around for a few hours but found no more sites. I don’t plan to stop exploring there yet though. The tribe doesn’t publicize the area or others of similar historic value, for obvious reasons I guess, since there has been quite a bit of damage done at this one.


      Comment by montucky — March 5, 2009 @ 10:48 am

  6. I participated in two week-long archeological programs through Passport in Time (google it) and learned a lot about Indian artifacts and their struggles to preserve their heritage. It is so important to be respectful. I’m glad you are protecting the location of these.


    Comment by Patia — March 5, 2009 @ 11:54 am

    • I bet those archeological programs were a blast!

      I’ve not participated in any of the PIT programs, but They look pretty good. I have volunteered in August to help the Forest Service in the restoration of the old lookout cabin on Big Hole Peak, but I don’t see that listed in the PIT projects.

      I’ve seen damage to petroglyphs in Arizona too, and I can never get used to the idea that people will do that!

      I have so much respect for those ancient people! With their kind of stewardship of the natural world, it has lasted now for 100 generations since their time. With the kind of stewardship the current generation exhibits I sincerely doubt that it will last another 5.


      Comment by montucky — March 5, 2009 @ 3:27 pm

  7. What possesses such idiots that they feel they have to own something that belongs to the ages?


    Comment by SuzieQ — March 5, 2009 @ 4:52 pm

    • I have no idea. Somewhere the understanding of where they fit in the eternal scheme of things is completely missing. And to think that society in general thinks it has improved from those times!


      Comment by montucky — March 5, 2009 @ 5:54 pm

  8. It’s been years since I’ve done mine, but PIT is a really great program. Just all-around benefits for everyone involved. I provided some useful service, learned a ton and had a cheap vacation. I’d like to do it again.


    Comment by Patia — March 5, 2009 @ 11:19 pm

    • I see there are a couple of sessions up Rock Creek coming up in May and one at Savenac in July. If I didn’t have so much stuff coming up in May, I might go for one of those sessions: I used to love that area up there.


      Comment by montucky — March 6, 2009 @ 1:03 am

  9. Hello!
    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo


    Comment by RaiulBaztepo — March 28, 2009 @ 3:34 pm

    • Thank you, Raiul, and thanks for visiting! You are doing just fine with this language!


      Comment by montucky — March 28, 2009 @ 7:59 pm

  10. […] Montucky has a post about the same site on his blog, Montana Outdoors and you really *should* go look at it if you’re interested. He got a *great* picture of the whole rock that the pictographs are on, so you can get the context (which embarrassingly didn’t even *occur* to me ::facepalm::) and he’s got pictures of different parts of the grouping than I got. That’s here, if you’re interested. […]


    Pingback by Nature Journal Notes: Week 5 (with bonus material) « Walk in Quiet Solitude — March 31, 2009 @ 9:01 am

  11. I know exactly where these pictographs are because I used to live out there. My boyfriend and I just got back from Montana but while we were there I had to show him these. Awesome huh! Totally beautiful area.


    Comment by Marilyn — October 8, 2010 @ 4:52 pm

    • Yes, they are really awesome. There is another one near that site, but the tribe thinks it is fairly recent. Here is what it looks like.


      Comment by montucky — October 8, 2010 @ 10:12 pm

  12. I used to live in Montana at my parents place and actually a couple times. The first time I moved out there was about 8 years ago. A friend of mine who has lived in Montana her whole life had brought me out there to show me those pictographs and she also said that we should leave something, like a peace offering so she left some cig. tobacco. It was something new for me to see.
    I moved from Montana again 2 years ago but before I left I showed my parents the pictographs and they showed my brother when he went there for a visit. It’s not something a person gets to see everyday, that’s for sure.


    Comment by Marilyn — October 13, 2010 @ 10:15 pm

    • I am fortunate to live not far from there, and I visit several times each year. I always sit and think about those ancient ones who left those messages for we who visit so many centuries later. I respect them so very much!


      Comment by montucky — October 15, 2010 @ 10:34 pm

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