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Celebrating Native American Culture, Heritage, & Rock Art: Petroglyphs Galore!

7 Nov

Next week, November 13-16, the city of Ridgecrest, CA is hosting an event celebrating one of my all-time favorite awe-inspiring places on Earth, Little Petroglyph Canyon. The Ridgecrest Petroglyph and Heritage Festival looks like an amazing tribute to not just the unbelievable Rock Art in the area but also to the culture and heritage of the people who both lived in and came for ceremonies to the Coso mountain range.

P1150881 (2)The whole Coso mountain range is part of the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station and tours of this highly restricted area are extremely limited – you can’t just show up with your hiking boots and expect to get in! The Maturango Museum organizes tours in the fall and in the spring and, you must be screened and approved by the Navy to even get a spot on a tour.  Find out MORE HERE and plan your trip in advance.

On our trip to the Canyon we learned so many fascinating things about what different kinds of patterns (geometric and other) represent, the suspected meaning of some of the symbols, shamanistic journeys, tools, and the possibility of alien visitors.

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Bighorn sheep carvings show up everywhere and are thought to be spirit helpers for the Rain-shaman. Yes, this is in the middle of a huge desert (just on the other side of Death Valley). There are stories of shamans coming from all over the area to  participate in ceremonies to get rainmaking powers to bring back to their homes – not gather rain but rainmaking powers from their spirit guides. The top part of the panel above most likely represents rain, the bighorn sheep are the spirit guides, and you can make out a very simple human figure on the side.  What a tale…

P1130948 (3)Even though there is much debate over meaning and origin, experts have, based on a whole lot of information gathered over the years and stories passed from generation to generation, determined that these carvings were made by shamans after a “journey” or “ceremony”.  The above are thought to be how the shaman saw themselves in their vision and their dress represents individual power. Notice they all have bird-like feet thought to represent flight or a bird as a spirit animal.

P1130944 (2)Some of the many geometric figures.

P1130928 (2)The shamans’ medicine bags.

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Their weapons – see the round objects with a long line coming from the bottom that looks a bit like a rattle? That is called an atl atl and was the weapon of choice after the spear and before the bow and arrow.

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Alien visitors?

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The Maturango Museum is a wonderful source of information and the Festival is a great opportunity to learn about, experience, and dive in more deeply into the area with the highest known concentration of petroglyphs in North America.

Give your brain a boost by learning something new, deepening your understanding of other cultures, and expanding your perspective.

Want to learn more? Check out Following the Shaman’s Path: a Walking Guide to Little Petroglyph Canyon and  Rock Drawings of the Coso Range and dive in!


Day 7 and picking up speed!

Trip to the Museum, Some Rock Art History, and the Game of the Week

24 Sep

Every good exploration starts with a bit of research.

As we prepared for our most recent trip to feed my rock art addiction, our research lead us to the Maturango Museum in Ridgecrest, CA, the gateway to the Coso Mountain Range and North America’s largest known concentration of Rock Art.

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We got there the day before our tour (organized by the Museum) of  Little Petroglyph Canyon.  That gave us plenty of time to  explore the exhibits, learn about what we were going to see, and get a bit of background so we could start the tour with some foundational knowledge of the people, the Rock Art style, and the area. And, of course, feed my other obsession, visit the museum gift shop!

We learned that this site was most likely a meeting area for tribes across Western North America. The Rock Art in the area tells the story of shamanic journeys, rain ceremonies, and life just outside of the Mojave Desert.

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We never miss a chance to make life a game and play!


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This week’s Find the Difference puzzles are from the grounds of the Maturango Museum. Yes, it was as hot as it looks but what an awe-inspiring place to explore!

There are at least 5 changes in each of these puzzles.  If you get stuck, use these hints.  There is at least 1 of each of these kinds of changes:  change in size, change in color, change in direction something is facing, a duplication, and something is missing! Need them a bit bigger? Click on the puzzle to get a larger version!

mmuseum 1 static


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As always, you may play more puzzles by going up the top of this page and clicking Games!

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