Peterborough’s Canadian Canoe Museum – Journey Into An Epic Past Canoeing Ontario’s Steel River System: Introduction , Maps, & Approaches The Peterborough Petroglyphs: Building Over An Ancient Algonquian Ritual Site.
2015-06-07 Previous Post : Peterborough’s The Canadian Canoe Museum – Journey Into An Epic Past N.
The term Algonquian (also spelled Algonkian) refers to one of North America ’s largest indigenous language families.
Individual tribes or First Nations like the Innu, the Micmac, the Algonquin, the Ojibwe, and the Cree all speak a version of Algonquian.
(See here for a primer.) A one-hour drive from Peterborough and the Canadian Canoe Museum and we were approaching the entrance to Petroglyphs Provincial Park.
It is a day-use-only park with hiking trails but its real reason for existing is the 90′ x 120′ outcrop of gently sloping white marble (limestone) in the center of the park.
From Peterborough to Petroglyphs Provincial Park Peterborough Petroglyphs – photo from 1961 In 1954 a prospector, Everett Davis, sat on this rock face as he surveyed the area east of Eels Creek and north of Upper Stony Lake.
He had been here before but had never noticed anything special; this time the sun’s light hit the rock just right and the images came out of the rock – some recognizable as humans or animals and others more abstract or fantastical .
As he pushed away the leaves and moss covering some of the rock face, more and more petroglyphs were revealed.
He did not know it at the time but he was standing on one of the largest petroglyph sites in Canada.
That is not Everett Davis in the image.
It is also not how it would have looked like to Davis, who found the site overgrown and covered in places with grass, shallow-rooted plants and deadfall.
Not clear is what makes the petroglyphs pop out as they do.
Have the cavities created by the original carvers been filled up with sediment over time or were the petroglyphs coloured in even before the Vastokas team used charcoal crayons to make them more visible?) entrance to Petroglyphs Provincial Park from Highway 56 (Northey Bay Road) Since 1954 – and especially since the late 1960’s – the site has seen increasing numbers of curious visitors.
Wild theories popped up to explain the nine hundred or so marks and images – many of them difficult to see – hammered out of the rock face.
Who put them there.
Phoenicians, Vikings, Celts – these were just some of the suggested answers.
As entertaining as they may have been, the explanations of people from far away do not stand up to any serious examination of what we know about those cultures and their iconography.
Milwaukee Journal headline from October 27, 1962 The answer lies much closer to nearby Stony Lake.
The territory lies on the southern edge of the Canadian Shield and before the arrival of the Europeans, it was in the cultural transition zone between Algonquian-speaking communities (the Anishinaabeg) to the north who lived in small mobile hunter-gatherer (foraging) bands and Iroquoian-speaking communities (the Haudenosaunee) with their larger and more advanced agriculture-based villages to the south.
Fred Bruemmer – Milwaukee Journal Oct.
Note the coloured-in look of the petroglyphs.
The answer to who hammered out the images on the relatively soft limestone rock face can be traced back to one of these two Indigenous Peoples, and since there is no evidence – for example, common iconography at other sites – connecting the Iroquois with the petroglyphs, we are left with one of the Algonquian-speaking peoples.
A number of the images on the rock have parallels with pictographs at other sites on the Canadian Shield which are known to be Algonquin or Ojibwe or Cree.
Thus, placing the petroglyphs in an Algonquian context fits the evidence best.
Since carbon dating a petroglyph is not possible, the discovery of other datable material at the site helped set a rough parameter for when it was used.
Found in the crevasses of the rock were bits of pottery – the remains of small offering bowls.
– which were dated back about 1000 years, placing it in the Woodlands Period of pre-Columbian archaeology. At the very least, this puts the creation of the petroglyphs before the arrival of the French in the 1600s.
In 1976 the Ontario government of the day created a new park – Petroglyphs Provincial Park.
Since 1990 Ontario Parks has managed the site along with members of a nearby Ojibwa First Nation whose ancestors first moved into the area in the late 1700s.
Their present community is found on Buckhorn Lake southwest of and above Burleigh Falls.
Burleigh Falls below the bridge – water tumbling into Stoney Lake It is about a forty-kilometer hike and paddle from the petroglyph site to their community though they may have lived closer to the site before the lumbermen, farmers, and miners started arriving in the 1850s.
While the Ojibwe community has no direct link to the petroglyphs
the 2015 Park Information Guide informs us that – Today the local First Nation of Curve Lake acts as a steward of the petroglyph site providing Ontario Parks with guidance in this culturally significant and ceremonial place.
This guidance is presumably because the current “spiritual caretakers” of the site share some cultural traits with the creators of the petroglyphs, in particular, a mythological worldview that they can use to explain the meaning of the images.
The ongoing mystery about the exact meaning of the petroglyphs shows how tenuous that cultural connection really is.
The mid-1980s structure – 35′ high with lots of windows – built to protect the petroglyph site For almost thirty years after the discovery of the site, it received only a minimum of attention from authorities.
At first, it was completely open and one could walk over the rock face.
Eventually concerns about the deterioration of the site – and a few examples of graffiti left by unthinking visitors – motivated officials to erect a series of fences, increasingly serious, to keep people away from the sloping rock face while still permitting it to be viewed.
In the mid-1960s Joan Vastokas (then of U of T) and Romas Vastokas of Trent U in nearby Peterborough began their study of the site with their students.
Among other things, they used a charcoal-coloured crayon to enhance some of the petroglyphs so that they could be better seen. Their findings were eventually written up in Sacred Art of the Algonkians which was published in 1973.
Forty years later it remains the definitive study of the site.
It is also a difficult book to get a hold of – sellers at Amazon have used copies available for $175.
The Toronto Public Library system does not have a single copy and I have yet to read it.
do and don’t sign at the entrance of Petroglyphs Provincial Park The Canadian Heritage Site Plaque beside the site Petroglyphs Park after the parking lot Other than the various hiking trail options, there are three other activities available to visitors.
It begins at the Learning Centre and its various poster displays, continues with a brief 18-minute film overview of Ojibwa culture, and concludes with a visit to the site itself. I’ll take a look at each of them in turn.
The Learning Centre The Visitors’ Centre, also called The Learning Centre, opened to the public in 2002 and is where the visit to the site begins.
While the building has a small gift shop with various souvenirs and a movie theatre with seats for perhaps 80 visitors, the main attraction is a colourful multi-panelled poster display.
We spent some time reading our way through the various snippets of text.
I had expected an introduction to the petroglyphs and their meaning to be the main focus but it soon became clear that there was something else being presented here.
welcome center (The Learning Place) display The wall in the photo above, nicely decorated with Norval Morrisseau-esque spirit lines emanating from the sun symbol, sums it up.
“A culture is a living thing”.
What the folks responsible for the exhibit have done is use this space to present an updated version of indigenous spirituality, an adaptation felt to be more relevant to the late 1900s than the paleolithic original. Pretty much absent is any reference to the animistic beliefs that ruled the lives of the actual people who created the petroglyphs.
In its place, we have the myth of the “Ecological Indian” and the 1970s-penned wisdom of Chief Seattle mixed with various environmentalist concepts.
I didn’t realize it at the time but this spiritual version of environmentalism as a defining feature of being aboriginal is a widely held view.
At the Assembly of First Nations website, for example, I found this statement – Indigenous peoples are caretakers of Mother Earth and realize and respect her gifts of water, air and fire.
First Nations peoples’ have a special relationship with the earth and all living things in it.
This relationship is based on a profound spiritual connection to Mother Earth that guided indigenous peoples to practice reverence, humility and reciprocity.
(see here for source) It left me wondering where a non-indigenous person fits in.
Presumably not as a “caretaker” since (s)he lacks “a special relationship” and “profound spiritual connection to Mother Earth”.
This race-based approach has parallels with the stance taken in many of the world’s religions – also built on the notion that this one particular people group of people has a special relationship with the Great Spirit.
In the Tanak (the Jewish “Bible”), for example, this relationship is called a covenant and the ones making it with the Great Spirit are His Chosen People.
Having established this special relationship, the next step is to claim possession of some sacred text with the very words of that God in it.
Or, if not a book then for pre-literate societies, at least some sort of special knowledge. In the case of the Algonquian-speaking cultures, it is referred to as traditional knowledge supposedly not accessible to “outsiders”.
The Teaching Rocks – building a new worldview on ancient rocks It is a place where we come to reflect… While the original purpose of the site can be guessed at – vision quests?.
initiation rituals for young males (and perhaps females)?.
initiations for shamans?.
the shamans’ source of medicines or guidance from resident manitous.
the Learning Center repurposes the petroglyph site for interested Anishinaabe as they live their lives in 2015.
Culture is indeed a living thing and it changes to suit new realities.
a statement of the environmental ethos of contemporary Anishinaabe culture but with traditional gender-assigned roles still intact The above poster alludes to the possibility that the Anishinaabe (i.e.
Ojibwe) once lived on the shores of the Atlantic at the mouth of the St
From details of the various accounts told by members of the Midewiwin (the shamans’ exclusive medicine society), some scholars date the migration westward towards Lake Superior somewhere around 1350.
They connect it to the arrival of the Black Plague along with European fishermen on the eastern shores of North America at that time.
Changing one’s worldview in response to changing times is not uncommon. It is also not uncommon to reinterpret and repurpose older cultural expressions – like the petroglyphs – which you did not have a hand in creating and which you can make no special claim to understanding.
While the sentiment expressed in the poster above is laudable and may well be true to those who now visit the site, there is no basis for the claim that this is what the rock was all about.
If our legends fall silent…there will be new legends and new heroes The Turtle … Shrouded in mystery but having much to reveal.
What The Bear Teaches … Miigwech…to Mother Earth (Aki) The Learning Centre reveals surprisingly little about the meaning of the petroglyphs we are about to see.
The primary focus is on Mother Earth and how we should treat it – perhaps given the difficulty of saying much about the petroglyphs, the hope is that this environmentalist focus will give visitors an acceptable alternative lens through which to see the images on the rock face.
The Teaching Rocks We moved on from the poster displays to the movie theater.
My brother and I were the only two there that afternoon but the Park Ranger – I did not get his name – graciously set up the film for us to watch.
Entitled The Teaching Rocks, the nineteen-minute documentary-style film dates back to 1987.
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources commissioned the cinematographer Lloyd Walton to direct the project; Fred Wheatley, an Ojibwe language teacher at Peterborough’s Trent U as well as an Ojibwe elder, did the narration.
The following week I would google my way to a copy of my own.
The film is available for online viewing or for download at the Vimeo website (click here to access).
The brief synopsis of the film reads like this – A visually arresting film, concentrates on the native art of the Ojibwa tribe.
Much Ojibwa history and philosophy has been related through the rock carvings and paintings which are featured throughout this work.
The voices of the Elders are heard in the film, describing the tales of creation and existence that mark the group’s iconography.
A sense of mystery informs this evocative film as the realization strikes that no individual can expect to penetrate the mythos of the Ojibwa.
The film begins with a scrolling text which tells us that “the precise meaning of the petroglyphs are carefully shrouded in mystery” thus putting a positive spin on the difficulty of entering into the minds of those who put these images and markings here some time ago.
Given that the documentary is meant to teach us about Ojibwe culture
it makes remarkably little use of traditional Ojibwe myth and legend.
Missing is any discussion of Thunderbird and Mishipeshu, of Nanabush and the Giant Beaver…what we are offered instead are musings and platitudes on Mother Earth.
Walton does combine some nicely filmed scenes of the rocks and water of the Canadian Shield, as well as shots of pictograph sites at Agawa Rock on Lake Superior and Lake Missinaibi, and I think a couple of seconds of Mazinaw Rock.
a stretch of Mazinaw Rock On top of close-up clips of the animals of the Shield country – the moose, beaver, bear, and heron – the narrator provides a commentary which emphasizes the same environmentalist ethos presented by the displays in the Learning Centre. The narrator – he speaks as an elder – tells us that – We were put on this earth to look after our mother , the earth … Every blade of grass has a right to grow and whenever you set your tipi up, or your shelter, don’t leave it there for long because you will kill the grass if you leave it there.
That’s why the Great Spirit has given you a strong body to be able to do these things… Given that the narrator was an Ojibwe language teacher at Trent University in Peterborough with a classroom in a large concrete block on the banks of the Otonobee River, you have to wonder just what he was seriously advocating other people to do while he showed up for class in his grass-killing structure.
Elsewhere he says this – It is up to us to go back to our traditional ways and to try to warn the white man before he has poisoned the whole earth.
Don’t contribute to the mess that’s being made… Consider the usefulness of this elder’s “wisdom” for today’s young Ojibwe as they try to find a meaningful role for themselves in the world being poisoned by the ignorant – or downright malicious – white man.
Romanticizing the past – advocating a return to an indigenous past that never actually existed – surely is not the answer.
And just what does “traditional ways” include.
Boats with kickers.
One house that you live in all year ’round.
To emphasize the harmonious nature of life before the coming of the white man, Wheatley tells us of the annual month-of-May Ojibwe “meetings with the Sioux on the south shore of Lake superior to exchange medicines“.
The word “Sioux” is Ojibwe in origin and had the uncomplimentary meaning of “little snake”.
Also known as the Dakotas, they were a neighbouring tribe who lived at the west end of Lake Superior.
When the Ojibwe moved into this area from further east around 1650 to 1700
they battled with the Dakota for control of this land.
For generations there were back and forth raids and battles between the two tribes for control; the Ojibwe won out and the Dakota moved further west.
For generations, the Ojibwe were also at war with the Iroquois tribes.
This is in the historical record; what Wheatley presents is a pre-European-contact paradise which never existed.
This may suit his purpose but it gives those watching the film a false idea of the way things actually were.
(Access a pdf copy of George Copway’s 1851 book The Traditional History and Characteristic Sketches of the Ojibway Nation here and check out chapter 5 for an account of those wars.
Copway was an Ojibwe from the Trenton area to the east of the petroglyph site
He was born in 1818.
See also this article – “The Ojibwa-Iroquois War: The War The Five Nations Did Not Win” for a comprehensive and well-researched summary.
The petroglyph site is presented as “The Teaching Rocks”, a place where select young people were taken as a step in the initiation into becoming shamans.
Using the images on the rock as teaching tools, the young person would learn some of the truths that he would need to become a medicine man in his own right.
It may be that the creators and original users of this rock face also used it in this way.
However, more likely is that we have here a modern repurposing of the rock face to fit in with the reality of a contemporary Ojibwe culture being swamped by external forces and an attempt to create a focal point for cultural revival three hundred years after the deluge began.
The Petroglyph Site As we approached the petroglyph site, another sign reminds us – yet again.
– that given the sacredness of the site, no photography is allowed.
Given the cellphones with cameras that almost everyone has these days, this must be a tough one to enforce.
I think back at pix I’ve taken on Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the Sistine Chapel in Rome, or more recently at the most sacred Buddhist site in Myanmar – the Shwedagon Pagoda – with its gold-plated stupa and relics said to be of the Buddha himself.
The Myanmar site even has free internet access provided on the temple grounds for visitors.
The reason for the “no photo” rule here escapes me.
More than anything else, it feels like politics. Having let the folks on duty know my view on the matter, I did abide by it.
Notice at the entry to the fenced site We walked through a gate in the fence which I assume rings the entire site and separates it from the rest of the park.
The photo below sets the scene as you approach the site.
The structure covering the petroglyph site was built in 1984.
The glass walls reach a height of about 40′ (12 meters) and let in a fair amount of subdued light.
approaching the petroglyph site Not far from the site archaeologists – perhaps the Vastokas team – found gneiss rock hammers which the creators of the petroglyphs used to peck and grind out the images.
Somewhere nearby there are two smaller petroglyph sites.
The 1977 Master Plan for Petroglyphs Park provides this information – One of the smaller sites is directly north of the major concentration, while the other site is 250 m to the northwest.
The second small site consists of 23 distinct glyphs.
In addition to these sites, there are a few glyphs scattered through the peripheral areas of the site.
The covered structure over the petroglyph site Not everyone is happy about the building covering the site.
Joan Vastokas, mentioned above as one of the authors of the still-definitive study of the site, has said that the structure itself is the biggest act of vandalism that has been done to the site.
At the end of the post is a link to a paper written by Dagmara Zawadzka of Université du Québec à Montréal which gives a negative assessment of the Ontario Parks solution to protect the site.
I did photograph the information board – see below – in which the Park officials present the reasons for doing what they did.
My overall impression – while the building may not be perfect it is still the best solution to the realities of the soft limestone rock and the need to protect it from the impact of visitors.
Peterborough Petroglyphs Site Info Panel – Part 1 Peterborough Petroglyphs Site Info panel – Part 2 Once we entered the building itself, I obviously did not take any more photos.
For study purposes, it would have been nice to have a set of images that I could examine in more detail at my leisure.
We did have the benefit of having the park official – the same young man who had set up the movie for us – as a guide. We had him to ourselves for about forty-five minutes and he gave us a fantastic tour of the rock face, taking us from one end to the other and pointing out key petroglyphs and some of the meanings given to them and their supposed relationship to others nearby.
Only two other people – a young couple – came in while we were there and their, at most, five-minute visit left us wondering why they had bothered coming all this way.
As you enter the building, there is a rack with pamphlets available; they explain the overall significance of the site, as well as a few of the dominant images.
The tone of the pamphlet is more like what I had expected at the Learning Centre.
Also on the wall was a 24″x36″ or so drawing of the rock face and its many petroglyphs.
I’d imagine it is from the Vastokas book mentioned above.
At the end of the tour, the park official was good enough to take it off its wall hook and bring it outside the building where I took a couple of photos of at least parts of it.
photo of a drawing of some of the petroglyph rock face While this Wikipedia entry tells you that there are 1200 petroglyphs at the site it – an unlikely high number – it does not go on to say that maybe 200 to 250 of them are still recognizable.
photo of same drawing – the far corner of the rock face In the above drawings, there are a few images which jump out, probably because our minds can find some sort of meaning in them.
Human forms and animal forms are definitely there, as are objects like canoes.
Some are fantastical and others are more abstract geometric forms.
The photo below was shot in 1970 and is one of a dozen that can be found at Jim Werner’s website.
Serpents, turtles, a “rabbit-eared” human figure, the 56″ long crane, the attention-grabbing triangles…obviously while the charcoal crayon which Vastokas’ students used to colour in the petroglyphs helps us see them better, we are seeing the site in a manner not thought of by the various people who hammered their images out of the rock.
One could characterize the colouring in of the cavities as an act of vandalism in itself.
Robin Lyke – Peterboro Petroglyph (1970) – used with permission of the owner This is where you ask the question – what does it all mean.
The first thing to recognize is that the images were not all put here at the same time.
It is more accurate to picture the site as one to which the image-makers – the shamans.
– came over a period of generations to leave their mark for whatever purpose.
Having said that, it is important to resist the very human impulse to take two adjacent images and create some sort of “story” that explains their connection.
Chances are they actually have nothing to do with each other.
So – what is the key to unlocking their meaning.
There is no Rosetta Stone; there is no “grand theory of everything” which we can apply here.
However, the images are the product of a particular culture with its set of myths and stories developed over time to explain all that they needed to explain.
And what culture.
As already indicated – the culture of an Algonquian-speaking people like the Algonquin or Ojibwe seems like a safe bet.
An interesting feature of the site is the number of crevasses and cracks in the rock face.
One, in particular, goes diagonally across the entire rock face.
Even more significant, there is a stream that passes underneath and at least in the past one could apparently hear the echo of the moving water.
The sounds were given a spiritual twist and taken as voices of the manitous who dwelt in or under the rock.
A parallel Ojibwe belief would be in the maymaygweshiwuk who lived in underwater caves associated with rock faces where shamans would leave their ochre images as a part of the ritual of obtaining favour or medicine from these spirits.
A number of my posts on pictograph sites on the Canadian shield have images of such rock faces.
Another interesting feature – and one that some people feel uncomfortable dealing with – are the holes at different places on the rock face.
The Parks site pamphlet mentioned above discreetly omits this petroglyph from the discussion even though it may have been one of the first to be put there.
Apparently, a seam of reddish iron oxide runs right through the figure and is thought to symbolize menstrual blood.
The drawing can be seen directly above and an internet- sourced image on the left makes it all clear – the creator of the image has incorporated the hole as vagina.
On the upper body, one can make out a breast.
On the day we were there a small amount of tobacco sat on top of the outstretched right arm of the female figure, presumably left by someone as a part of a petition or of thanksgiving ritual.
Mishipeshu and the snakes – Agawa Rock In the third drawing above, a figure below the female figure has been interpreted as a camel.
Notice the humps.
“Aha” the “reasoning” goes – so the Phoenicians really were here.
A less fantastical and more likely explanation – one that comes from traditional Ojibwe iconography is that it is a representation of Mishipeshu.
He is the underwater lynx who is seen as a counter-force to the Thunderbird (Animikii)) who is second only to Gitchi Manitou (the spirit above all other spirits) in power.
The famous pictograph of Mishipeshu at Agawa Rock bears similarities to the animal depicted here.
Also very common on this rock face are depictions of snakes.
Unlike the Christian spin put on the snake – Satan the deceiver in the Garden of Eden – for the Algonquins and Ojibwe the snake, often depicted with two horns (Mishikinebik) is a positive force associated with the medicine and wisdom that a shaman would have come for.
The Park pamphlet puts it this way – “Because snakes live and move between the spirit worlds, they are often viewed as messengers from the underworld and protectors of the springs.” Look at the first photo of the drawings – not having any photos to double-check I am assuming that whoever drew the images did so accurately! – and you’ll see three different snake figures with the double horns indicated.
There are apparently thirty or so snake images at the site, with some of them incorporating the crevasses and cracks of the rock face.
Petroglyph Park turtle image Another animal figure which figures prominently on the site is the turtle Mikinak.
It is seen at pictograph sites across the Algonquian world and represents the messenger who brings the manitous’ communication to the shamans.
At this site there are a dozen turtle images – one of them is depicted in the image to the left.
One interpretation has the dots as eggs which symbolize new life.
There was even an explanation for the number of eggs – 13.
– which I have forgotten.
It is probably best to take many of the explanations with a touch of skepticism.
One unusual image that provokes puzzlement is the one to the right.
It seems to show the lower part of a human body and then a sun symbol on a vertical line which could be the upper body.
The park pamphlet writes: “This large central figure near the centre of the site is thought by some First Nations to be a carving of ‘Gitchi Manitou’…it may also represent a shaman who has been given powers by the creator.” Given the transcendent nature of the Great Spirit, it seems highly unlikely that such an image would be made.
It would be as if the Hindus were to depict Brahman, the God beyond all gods. I have yet to read of or see another example on the Canadian Shield of such a depiction.
(Let me know if you can think of one.) Looking at the photo another answer comes to mind – perhaps we are looking at two different pictographs, one on top of the other and not actually related or even done at the same time by the same person.
The fact that we link the two says more about how the human mind works than it does about what the rock carvers engraved in the rock face.
Another image commented on in the pamphlet is one of what may be a shaman or “medicine man”.
The object in the figure’s right hand “may possibly be a turtle rattle used in ceremonial practices.
The cone-shaped hat over the person’s head may indicate his/her connection to the spirit world and the power of healing.” The shaman figures I have seen further west share some common elements with this one.
Like this one, they are always standing figures who hold something in an outstretched arm.
That “something” is interpreted to be an otter skin medicine bag.
This image from the Bloodvein River is typical – Artery Lake Pictograph Site- Face IV Shaman with Medicine Bag figure While the Artery lake figure does not have the conical hat, he does have what could be interpreted as a spirit line coming out of his head.
Perhaps there is a parallel there.
Here is a drawing from the Smithsonian Institute’s anthropological archives.
It depicts a medicine man with a ritual object in his left hand which he seems to be spinning or shaking – Ojibwe shaman with rattle – Smithsonian Institute’s anthropological archives – see here for source the crane and the Nanabush figures A physically large petroglyph is that of the crane or heron that you see in the image to the right.
It measures some 56″ from top to bottom.
According to the Park pamphlet the crane “is a common totem bird among the different Algonkian peoples.
Playing a relevant role in the world of shamanism, signified as helping spirits that aid in revealing prophecies, and they are receptacles of the souls of the dead, as birds can read the future.
Members of this clan traditionally are the speakers at meetings.” (Someone at Parks Ontario needs to rewrite this passage!) Mazinaw Rock’s Rabbit man panel Also in the above image, you will find two images associated with Nanaboozoo or Nanabush, .
The rabbit-eared “trickster” of Ojibwe myth
The next day we would see a similar ochre pictograph at Mazinaw Rock – a human figure with two large “ears” protruding from his head.
In all of southern Ontario – everything from Sudbury to the Ottawa River on down to Lake Ontario, there are really only two aboriginal rock image sites – Mazinaw Rock at Bon Echo and this petroglyph site.
Interestingly, both are the biggest sites of their kind in Ontario – and maybe in Canada.
See here for our visit to Mazinaw.
The walkway takes you right around the site; every few meters there is an information board with an explanation of particular images.
Normally I would have taken photos of them and reread them after the visit.
The pamphlet deals with most of the ones I’ve covered above.
It also has a bit to say about the canoe images, the Thunderbird, what looks like large arrowheads but which could be a shaman’s spirit (the pamphlet’s suggestion) or Christmas trees (a silly suggestion made in that Milwaukee Journal at the start of the post).
I haven’t seen anything like it in all the pictograph sites I have been to – or seen images from.
More time and access to photos of different parts of the site would add more substance to my analysis.
So would reading the Vastokas’ book.
Robin Lyke 1970 photo- used with permission from J.
Werner – in this photo the animal below her feet looks like a long-legged moose If you want to see more images of the petroglyphs, the best collection I have found on-line belongs to Jim Werner; the photos were actually taken by his uncle Robin L.
His website has an excellent discussion of the site and twelve images; you can access it here.
The drive to Petroglyphs Provincial Park took us about an hour from Peterborough.
We had spent the morning at the Canadian Canoe Museum so we got there about 2:30. I am glad we took the time to finally check it out.
As is often the case, we left with more questions than we had arrived with – but isn’t that why we travel and check out things we don’t know about.
We came expecting to see the physical structure over the petroglyph site; we left wondering about the ideological reconstruction undertaken by some members of the Curve Lake Ojibwe community.
This post was my attempt to grapple with some of those questions.
I have a feeling that in the coming months I will be returning to this post – rethinking, revising, researching, and replying to comments of those who may or may not agree with my view of things.
Useful Links For More Insight: The 1977 Ontario Government “Master Plan” for Petroglyph Provincial Park is worth skimming through.
You can access it here.
I also took pp.
32-36, the section on the history of the site, and put it into a 1.2 Mb pdf file which you can download here.
Among the statistics in the report were the annual visits for 1974 (14,227) and 1975 (13,613).
The most recent statistics I could find were for 2010 (13,254).
If the stats are all measuring exactly the same thing, it would seem that fewer people are visiting now than forty years ago.
If so, I wonder why.
Dagmara Zawadzka of Université du Québec à Montréal has a 2008 paper accessible online as a pdf file.
It is entitled The Peterborough Petroglyphs/ Kinoomaagewaabkong: Confining the Spirit of Place. Concerned with the structure built over and around the petroglyph site in the early 1980’s her stated aim is this –.
Due to the site’s uniqueness and popularity, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) implemented measures to protect and conserve it, as well as to transform it into a tourist attraction.
One such measure was the construction of a building directly on top of the site.
In the following paper, I demonstrate that this building thwarts the understanding of the meaning inherent in this sacred Indigenous site, and that less intrusive and culturally sensitive conservation measures might be more suited for transmitting the spirit of the place.
It is definitely worth a read before your visit even if Zawadzka only sees (or acknowledges) the physical building over the site by the MNR and not the ideological repurposing by some members of the Curve Lake First Nation.
________________________________________________________________ Robert Burcher has developed the unlikely argument that the petroglyphs should be attributed to the Celts.
His book The Leather Boat fleshes out his theory as to how people from Ireland came to carve images into the limestone in the central Ontario wilds some 2000 years ago.
Like me he is a WordPress blogger; unlike me, he has a book for sale.
See here for details.
Alas, no copies in the Toronto Public Library system to sign out for a quick read.
Carol Diaz-Granados and James R.
Duncan have edited a collection of papers in The Rock-Art of Eastern North America: Capturing Images and Insight (2004).
Chapter 16 – The Peterborough Petroglyphs: Native or Norse.
– is a contribution by Joan Vastokas.
The teaser blurb begins – This chapter discusses the ongoing debate over the Peterborough Petroglyphs and whether they were created by Native Americans or Norsemen.
First, a history of the debate is covered positing the various theories.
Then, forms of writing that have been compared to the Peterborough Petroglyphs are addressed and their similarities and differences explained.
Throughout the chapter, I present evidence that concludes a Native Ameri-… And they leave it at that.
Given the author, we can guess what the conclusion is.
Most of the chapter (except for three pages) can be read here at Google Books.
Charles Lock is currently a Professor of English at the University of Copenhagen but for twelve years (1983-1995) he taught at the University of Toronto.
He has a 15-page paper in a 1994 issue of Semiotica (special edition on Prehistoric Signs) entitled “Petroglyphs In And Out Of Perspective”.
It is available here.
While written for an academic audience and occasionally an obtuse read (just like this post), it is worth the effort.
He uses the Peterborough Petroglyphs to illustrate some of the points he makes about how and why modern scholars study “primitive” art.
Here is a brief sample from the article: Unlike prehistoric artefacts in Europe , but like mediaeval ones, the petroglyphs of North and Central America are still, or have become again, the focus of cult.
The most famous petroglyph site in Ontario — near Peterborough — was discovered in 1954, and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources undertook to preserve ‘this important part of our national heritage … for future generations of Canadians’ (Sweetman 1955: 108).
Fences of increasing seriousness were built to protect the site from visitors — not only from wear, but from the graffiti that graffiti always invites — until it was recognized that the main damage was caused by the weather.
Before their discovery the petroglyphs had been well protected by moss and undergrowth.
In the late 1970s the Ministry built a large structure over the entire rock surface; the atmosphere inside is now fully controlled.
In 1976 the site was designated a Provincial Park.
I first visited the petroglyphs in 1984, and my thought then was that as the petroglyph would not go to the Museum, the Museum had gone to the petroglyph.
Sometime between then and my next visit in 1990 a wooden sign appeared, on the path between the car-park and the site, and visitors are now informed that this is a sacred place, honored and used for ritual purposes by Native Americans; non-Natives are asked to behave with respect.
Native people are now the guides and wardens of the Park, and there is talk of the Ontario government ‘handing back’ the petroglyphs to Native Americans.
The way we view these petroglyphs has changed radically.
No longer a museum, ideologically neutral and spatially homogeneous, the structure belongs to others and is to be entered on sufferance.
Should one remove one’s hat.
Voices are lowered.
And one certainly gets a ‘romantic thrill’ from seeing on that great rock, at a discreet distance from any carving, the traces of a tobacco offering.
Visiting in 1992, however, I noticed not only tobacco and feathers and stones, but also red, yellow, and white ribbon.
These ribbons are traditional and authentic, but my aesthetic sense inwardly protested that the effect was tawdry.
With petroglyphs as with icons, offerings must be placed in contiguity with the object of devotion, and thus become part of it; one cannot open a site to cultic devotion and then ask that offerings be left elsewhere, to the side.
As a visitor, one knows that one’s aesthetic protest would be, if voiced, a mark of disrespect.
In a museum, of course, complaints are expected.
Here we have a rare and spectacular instance of a prehistoric artefact which is now serving what we might call a ‘first-order purpose’.
Obviously there has been no continuity of cult; the Ojibway Anishinabe band, who now revere the site and care for it, do not pretend that it was ever associated with their ancestors.
Whether the contemporary cult is the same or similar to that practiced in prehistoric times is of course unknown; indeed, not everyone is agreed that these petroglyphs ever had sacred significance or were at any time the site of a cult.
Probability certainly favors the Ojibway, and whatever the authenticity of the present cult, it must be considered ‘first-order’: there is a consensus among Native people which legitimates the cult, and the ritual has nothing to do with ‘second-order purposes’, the aesthetic and cognitive practices of non-Native viewers.
Viewers, spectators, scholars, helpfully raised on the ramp that encircles the rock, prevented by railings from falling (or straying) onto the rock, we notice the little gate through which Natives may pass: the way in, not for viewers but only for participants.
Next Post – The Pictographs of Mazinaw Rock: Listening For Algonquian Echoes.
This entry was posted in , and tagged Curve Lake First nation Petroglyphs, Joan Vastokas, Peterboro Petroglyphs, Peterboro rock carvings, Peterborough Pictographs, Peterborough rock art, Petroglyphs Provincial Park, Teaching Rocks review, Upper Stony Lake Petroglyphs.
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Peterborough’s Canadian Canoe Museum – Journey Into An Epic Past Canoeing Ontario’s Steel River System: Introduction, Maps, & Approaches 41 Responses to The Peterborough Petroglyphs: Building Over An Ancient Algonquian Ritual Site.
jane tims 2016-03-18 at 3:55 pm A very insightful consideration of what you saw and read.
LLOYD WALTON 2016-04-06 at 11:42 am Insightful, and you are close.
I made the film THE TEACHING ROCKS under heavy pressure on what or what not to reveal.
The original inscriptions were recorded on hide and taken west for protection.
My teacher, who died at the age of 108, had the hide.
After 30 years I was given permission to tell the story and it will be published soon.
the working title is INTO THE STONE, but it could be called, LLOYD ISN’T HERE.
Reply 2016-04-10 at 3:22 pm Lloyd, it has been almost thirty years since you made that film.
Thanks for pointing out something I did not consider – i.e.
the constraints you faced in developing the film’s narrative.
As for the scroll that will reveal all – and soon … well, I can see the Algonquian version of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code in that story.
The way I understand it, the petrogplyphs were done by any number of people over an extended period of time and to impose some sort of narrative connecting the various images reveals more about the interpreter than it does the intentions of the original carvers.
You’ll have to put me down as skeptical about the notion that one buffalo hide – surely not contemporaneous with the carvers of 800+ years ago – would capture the “true” meaning of the numerous images on the rock, which are mostly unrelated except for the fact that they are the product of common Algonquian worldview and mythology.
I’ll be checking your website in the weeks to come to see if Into The Stone has been published.
Reply 2017-03-11 at 5:04 pm It was a deer hide.
David 2016-07-02 at 4:01 pm i have a strong interest in the petroglyphs.
I appreciated reading your take.
Reply 2016-07-02 at 6:34 pm David, a bit more than a year ago I knew nothing about the Peterboro Petroglyphs.
Our brief visit provided me with lots to make sense of.
My post was an attempt to reconcile what I’ve learned over the last three years in my pictograph-related canoe trips with what we saw at the site.
I have yet to get a hold of a copy of the Vastokas study, still the major work on the site after all these years.
While I admit my “take” on the site does not fit in with the official narrative, it is nice to read a positive review.
Reply Norman Perrin 2017-03-11 at 10:35 am I have a spare copy of the Vastokas book.
Not sure if I wish to part with it but I can lend it out.
2017-03-11 at 11:39 am Norm, thanks for the offer.
If I could borrow it for a week or two that would be terrific.
To think that it was written 45 years ago and is still the only serious examination of the site.
I could lend you a couple of related books as collateral.
I’ve got Thor Conway’s new book Discovering Rock Art as well as a copy of Grace Rajnovitch’s Reading Rock Art that you would probably enjoy leafing through (if you don’t already have them).
Do you live in the GTA.
I live in the Broadview/Danforth area.
Email me at and maybe we can arrange something.
2017-03-11 at 4:59 pm I have finally finished my manuscript, titled POSITIVELY NORTH STREET, and it is out with a literary agent.
The story builds to a four day teaching on the rock that I witnessed by an elder from the west.
Records of all of the inscriptions were written down on a hide and taken west in the late 1700’s as part of the Ojibway migration.
This man, as he first said to me en route, “I have no reason to lie to you.” He also said, “A teacher knows what you need to know, and you have no right to ask me certain questions.
I too have no right to answer you.” He proved beyond a doubt to all in attendance that he knew what the rock was teaching.
My story also deals with the consequences of my resulting actions.
2017-03-11 at 5:42 pm Lloyd, your title’s twist on a great Dylan song got my attention and the brief summary you provided make me even more curious about the story you have to tell.
From your quote, it is clear that the shaman’s traditional philosophy of education was at odds with the way things unfold in classrooms these days.
I may have a question or two about that migration.
I assume it was to the west end of Lake Superior.
I thought that it happened perhaps a century earlier – i.e.
around 1700 – when the invading Ojibwe began to displace the Dakota (i.e.
the Sioux) nation then living in the upper Mississippi region.
2017-03-12 at 3:45 pm They first went to Montana, then the Waterton Lake area, then up into Alberta, living beyond the settlers, and spooking the local aboriginals with their intense spirituality.
2016-07-02 at 11:57 pm There was a comment about the film not talking about myths.
What I was told by the Mishomis was, ” These are not the things of dreams.
Every thing on this rock can be proven.
” And he went on to prove it.
Reply 2016-07-03 at 7:12 pm Thanks for the clarification.
I’m looking forward to reading your book.
I hope it’s coming along.
Just started reading Michael Angel’s Preserving the Sacred: Historical Perspectives on the Ojibwa Midewiwin.
Turtle Mountain Chippewa 2018-01-24 at 2:42 pm Truth Reply.
Rich Stephenson 2016-08-05 at 5:39 pm Just ran across this site.
It is very interesting and thanks to all those who commented too.
Seeing the “picture” of the petroglyphs, what struck me was the idea that much of what was there was a map or an atlas, not just a spiritual landscape but a mainly practical one.
Waterways were clearly marked, in my view, oriented specifically to give the direction.
It was as if they were answering the questions one might have had as to the best places to get stone/flint for spear/arrowheads….how to get to the best hunting area for moose etc.
Not everything pertained to food and other important but worldly concerns but my guess is that much of it did.
Seeing the lines linking a series of ovals might indicate part of a path on water ….traversing the number of lakes (or widened areas) shown.
Scale was irrelevant but perhaps some of the nearby symbols indicated the number of days travel.
What appears to be a snake with a series of dots on each side could be a more detailed map indicating a river and the dots indicating major outcroppings of rock or cliffs…think of it as a representation of what we might see on a satellite photo.
The twists and turns would not be shown because they were irrelevant, it was navigation by rock signposts perhaps.
Reply 2016-08-06 at 12:11 pm Rich, your theory is an interesting one.
As you read on, you’ll see I think it misses the point of the petroglyphs.
I am sure you will think I’ve missed your point.
The Petroglyph site is in an out-of-the way spot above Upper Stony Lake.
It may have been chosen for that reason.
It reminds me of the Cliff Lake pictograph site in NW Ontario.
It too is somewhat removed from major river corridors of travel and was obviously a hallowed spot visited often for generations.
What drew them to the Stony Lake site was the underground stream running under the rock which made a gurgling sound and which was probably associated with the manitous dwelling there.
It would provide the reason to visit the site and leave a growing collection of images over time – that is, over three or four hundred years by generations of carvers, each with his own small contribution to make.
The small band of Algonkian hunters/gatherers would probably camp nearby on Stony Lake – perhaps at Burleigh Falls – for the summer season while they fished and gathered berries.
this would also be the time for meeting up with other small bands.
It would be one of the stops on their annual circuit; by the fall they would have moved on in small groups to the moose hunting grounds in the interior to the north.
You suggest that the site may actually be a map or atlas of their everyday world.
This would mean that the entire site was chiseled by a team of people – the elders who knew all the details of the migratory pattern their band followed.
A similar theory I have seen is that the rock face represents a map of the heavens – an atlas of the cosmos.
The problem I have with these theories is that they totally ignore the culture of the people who visited the site and impose on it the way of thinking of another culture.
Instead of understanding Algonkian spirituality and mythology on its own terms, we have them think like we do.
A practical question might be – Why bother carving a map of their world – the annual circuit they travelled – on this rock face.
Given that for most of the year you would be far away from the pictograph site anyway, what useful purpose would it serve.
If you could find your way back to the spot – and clearly they did for generations – then you didn’t need to carve the map in the rock to begin with.
Traditional Algonkian society revered the elders specifically because they were the living encyclopedias of the tribe and would know how to read the terrain and remember the migratory paths of their bands.
Their culture was also fairly static so there wasn’t this constant upheaval in knowledge and technology that marks our world.
To no great surprise, elders are not prized in our world of constant change.
So – instead of carving a map in an out-of-the-way place, much more useful to have older members of the band who knew the path and recognized landmarks as they followed the seasons through the Central Ontario Boreal Shield country.
If you still want to stick with the map or atlas idea, a more practical thing to have done is to create a map on a birchbark scroll and thus have it available at all times instead of just at one time of the year.
However, there are no Algonkian – or other Indian – birchbark map examples that I can think of to support this idea.
When the Ojibwe Midewiwin, for example, used birchbark scrolls, it dealt with spiritual matters and made use of images from traditional Algonkian mythology.
This is exactly what the petroglyph site above Stony Lake deals with.
The limestone rock face served generations of Algonkian shamans as a spiritual site and reflects their deepest understanding of the world as they knew it – an animistic worldview different from our own “modern” scientific one.
edward 2016-08-22 at 6:16 pm The images that were carved into the white marble at Petroglyph Provincial Park centuries ago have also been faithfully reproduced by numerous cultures spanning over ten thousand years of the holocene and indeed beyond.
I believe I know precisely what they are with the possible exception of 3 globally recurring glyphs.
It is going to require a little journey down the road of paleoclimatology, ancient civilizations and astronomy.
If 10Be and C14 isotope dating techniques don’t put you off and you have a good eye for recognizing patterns then I believe you will enjoy this immensely.
Reply 2016-08-30 at 9:08 pm Edward, you argue that many cultures have the same collection of images that they, to use your word, “faithfully” reproduce over thousands of years.
And I would guess the motivation is the same in all cases too.
A remarkable similarity that only a few have noticed.
While the human mind is incredibly adept at finding parallels and exact correspondences where they don’t actually exist, it is simpler and truer to the facts to start with the people who lived with the petroglyphs and the pictographs of the Canadian Shield.
That would be the Anishinaabe.
There is no need to haul in Mesopotamians and paleoclimatology and a dozen other obscure and seemingly erudite references that make it sound like another Dan Brown novel.
My post connects the images to the traditional pre-European-contact Algonquin bands that would have gathered on an annual basis in the Stony Lake area not far away from the out-of-the way site.
If you “believe (you) know precisely what they (the images and their meanings) are with the possible exception of 3 globally recurring glyphs”, it would seem that my post missed the mark with the evidence it provided.
Reply Edward 2017-09-21 at 11:51 pm Thanks for your reply and sorry for the long delay.
Dan Brown… good one.
???? Actually there IS a need to bring in Mesopotamia et al., radioisotope analysis, plus solar and plasma physics in order to be able to understand what you are looking at.
The hypothesis simply stated is that immense solar coronal mass ejections, larger by a factor of 2 or 3 over the strongest we see today, periodically strike the earth resulting in awe inspiring displays of electrical energy in the ionosphere and magnetosphere that are visible both day and night.
Many of these observed phenomenon are then somewhat faithfully reproduced on stone surfaces subject to the cultural/anthropomorphic etc.filters of time and place.
Solar and plasma physics provide the mechanism, radioisotope analysis provides you with a record of global CME event horizons from ice cores etc in addition to dating information particular to each site.
You might like to check into the plasma/petroglyph interpretation work of Anthony Peratt to start.
Peratt is an American physicist whose most notable achievements and work have been in plasma physics, nuclear fusion and the monitoring of nuclear weapons.
He has researched petroglyphs, some of which he claims are records made in prehistory about significant auroral events caused by intense solar storms.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Peratt The expected polar plasma configuration and some similar forms observed from the past… An angle of observation directly into the current above the would look just like these features found on petroglyphs in New Mexico… Or on 1st and 2nd century A.
Celtic coins… On the layout of hundreds of wood and stone henges @2300-2800BC… Also the head of Gitchi Manitou is almost certainly Venus once you examine historical and mythological references.
The waves in form would be caused by the interaction with heliospheric sheets, magnetospheric distortions etc.
It also possesses some of squatterman’s features.
https://albinger.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/gitchi-manitou.jpg?w=204&h=300 Mesopotamian 2nd millennium BC Same feature at Serpent Mounds Ohio… If you are curious just let me know by email.
Edward 2017-09-22 at 12:38 am Nearly forgot… “My post connects the images to the traditional pre-European-contact Algonquin bands that would have gathered on an annual basis in the Stony Lake area not far away from the out-of-the way site.
If you “believe (you) know precisely what they (the images and their meanings) are with the possible exception of 3 globally recurring glyphs”, it would seem that my post missed the mark with the evidence it provided.” It did not in the least.
I am actually completely on board with your post.
I am just telling you that almost without exception they were faithfully recording what they saw in the sky as were the Sumerians, Naqadans, Australian aborigines, numerous European neolithic populations up to and including renaissance painters.
I never said anything about them having any MEANING what I said was… “… I believe I know precisely what they are with the possible exception of 3 globally recurring glyphs.” I stand by that statement.
In fact there is NO meaning to them other than that they were likely celestial observations recorded by indigenous populations at specific times all around the world when the earth’s atmosphere started producing high levels of 10Be and C14 radionuclides which would be consistent with either a geomagnetic field strength reduction of massive proportions, asteroid strike, GCRs from a supernova somewhere close in the galactic neighborhood or a massive solar storm event(s).
BTW… Dewdney was right on his Lascaux hunch and I can prove it.
As before just email me if you are interested in understanding an alternative theory to what others may believe the origin of these glyphs to be.
The Peterborough Petroglyphs: Building Over An Ancient Algonquian Ritual Site
– Kærry Redwood Atjecoutay.
Andrea 2017-05-17 at 6:14 pm Hello all.
I literally stumbled upon this site.
I visited there a few years ago.
Unfortunately, I was not able to stay long while viewing the petroglyphs as I had an immediate nervous breakdown, crying and shaking.
No known reason, and I am not normally an emotional or outwardly spiritual person.
If this is a common thing or uncommon Id love to hear from you.
Don’t hesitate to contact me with your theory.
Reply 2017-05-17 at 6:37 pm Andrea, more to the point would be your take on it.
You know yourself and your story best and what was going on at the time of your visit.
Perhaps now would be a good time for little miss kid to return to the site and, with her additional years of life experience and understanding, take it all in again.
If you can, combine it with a trip to Bon Echo Park to see the Mazinaw pictographs.
Having your own canoe and a fellow paddler would make it even better.
Stephen Wesley 2017-09-07 at 3:10 pm “Not clear is what makes the petroglyphs pop out as they do.” I know for a fact that researchers used black crayon in order to see the images more clearly.
cheers Reply 2017-09-08 at 8:33 am Stephen, I was commenting about the image with the coloured-in petroglyphs.
It comes from a 1962 news article and thus is a few years before the Vastokas team began their work on the site.
I wonder if someone had already “coloured in” the images or if it was just dirt.
Later the cavities werre indeed coloured in with crayon by Vastokas; the appropriateness of doing so is debatable.
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Stopped Reading 2018-01-24 at 10:02 pm The Haundenosaunee are “more advanced” than the Algonquin because they were agricultural.
Get your Eurocentric notions of progress out of our knowledges Reply 2018-01-25 at 12:32 pm It may have been best for you to stop reading.
There would surely have been yet more disturbing material for you to deal with.
What you dismiss as “Eurocentric’ I find very persuasive and useful in my attempt to understand things.
Next, you’ll be writing to Sid Meier to complain about his computer game Civilization since it makes use of the same concept.
The writings and research of Marvin Harris, Jared Diamond – and, I guess, going all the way back to Tyler and Morgan – develop the basic notion of cultural evolution.
What is primary is economics; Harris calls his approach “cultural materialsm”.
There is no suggestion in Harris or Diamond or in the more recent work of Johnson and Earle of the moral inferiority of forager cultures as opposed to agricultural or industrial ones.
We’re talking economics – and, in the case of Diamond, the good luck of being in a great geographical location.
Not that you have any appetite for more information on the topic, but here is a google link to a couple of chapters of the Johnson and Earle study (published in 2000) that continues to make use of the same basic construct of the development of more complex cultures from hunter-gathering (i.e.
foraging) to agricultural – The Evolution of Human Societies: From Foraging Group to Agrarian State – https://books.google.ca/books?id=YQh84b1rF-AC&pg=PA41&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=4#v=onepage&q&f=false I am left wondering what “knowledges” you are referring to.
I’ll also admit that the “s” at the end of the word has me puzzled.
Just a typo.
If not, what are you talking about.
You refer to it as “our knowledges”.
However, given that the stories and explanations and myths and observations of nature were the product of (and meant for) a pre-European contact economy that was shattered with the introduction of a fur trade economy 300 years ago and the later development of a wage economy in the 1800’s, how relevant can “our knowledges” still be to most Anishinaabe living their lives in 2018.
Reply Greg Anderson 2018-02-09 at 2:48 am Actually, it IS a very Eurocentric (meaning biased toward a solpisist and linear view of society) perspective.
For all the technology white people STILL, as a collective, haven’t figured out the basic fundamentals of human decency toward each other or this planet and its other inhabitants never mind indigenous peoples.
The Eurocentric view still in operation today that you reference in the google link is based on EB Tylor’s concept of “civilization” which in turn is based on the Greeks’ “great chain of being” which are both reductionist and based in a notion of western exceptionalism, and extremely linear (as though actual reality is linear!!!!!!!)…both very outdated perspectives in the international anthropological community.
For every legitimate scholar there are 100 more who are polluting research with their biases.
The western world measures “advanced societies” by technology first, social developments last.
The end result.
Socially primitive, violent, ethnocentric and culturally chauvenistic communities who think capitalism is still a good idea lol.
2018-02-09 at 11:30 am The ironic thing about your post-modernist worldview is that it too is a product of that civilization you dismiss as Eurocentric.
For someone arguing against any grand theory of anything, you certainly have a very “strong” (I’d say racist) lens through which you take in and organize your notion of reality.
To my mind, it is way more offensive than the view that the Maya or the Inca – or the Iroquois – were more technologically advanced than the Algonquin.
As you wrote somewhere else online a few years ago – ghanderman J.
• 5 years ago nah, its a cultural stereotype that happens to be true.
white people ARE boring.
they have no culture to speak of other than a very long history of brutally oppressing everyone not in their little “in club” (including of their own “race”).
any culture that they do have thats of any kind of interesting theyve appropriated from people of color.
white culture has no soul…its an empty vapid mish mash of materialism, cultural parasitism and narcissism.
it aint racist if its true hahahahaha Clearly, you have your own grand theory which explains everything to your satisfaction.
It would seem that the only thing that has changed for you in the past five years is a shift from hahahahaha to lol.
Jean-Claude Cyr 2018-04-03 at 8:34 pm Hello, Petroglyph parks is quite unknown in Quebec.
Even university teachers appreciative of Firsts Nations do not know this site (I personally discussed with 2 known specialists one an archeologist and a respected historian did not know of it).
I visited the site twice with 2 Phd in history.
Is it possible to use one of the picture representing the native women in a book to be published in French.
To who can I contact to have a permission to use one of these 2 pictures.
Reply 2018-04-03 at 9:05 pm Jean Claude, C’est vraiment un site incroyable, n’est-ce pas.
I only got to it in my 64th year and I live in Toronto.
With respect to the photo, I am not sure which one you mean.
Since those in charge of the park no longer allow photographs of the rock face and the petroglyphs, I did not take any.
The images I did insert in my post were either from Government of Canada web sites or from the following website – http://www.jwwerner.com/history/PETROGLYPHS.html If one of the images from that site is what you are thinking of, you might send them an email asking for permisssion to use it.
The two photos I included of drawings of sections of the site were of an information board at the entrance of the building.
The guide was good enough to take it outside and let me photograph it.
It may come from the difficult-to-find Vastokas book Sacred Art of the Algonkians.
You might get in contact with Joan Vastokas at Trent University’s Department of Anthropology.
Perhaps she may have an appropriate image she would allow you to make use of.
Bonne chance avec tes recherches.
Reply Bob Murphy 2018-04-04 at 7:39 pm You might be interested to know that Norval Morrisseau likely visited what is now Petroglyph Provincial Park near Peterborough around 1960, which was after its discovery in 1954.
Some of his 1960 birch bark paintings match the petroglyphs, but his earlier birch bark pieces do not.
2018-04-04 at 11:51 pm Bob, it has been a while since I did some research on Morrisseau and his development as an artist.
if you’re interested, the post is here complete with lots of images, maybe even one or two of the ones you are thinking of – https://albinger.me/2014/06/08/selwyn-dewdney-norval-morrisseau-the-ojibwe-pictograph-tradition/ From what I can recall from my reading, Morrisseau didn’t get to southern Ontario until 1962 for his art show at the Pollock Gallery in Toronto.
He may well have visited the petroglyphs at that time though none of the material I have read make any mention of this.
A more likely explanation of any similarities with the Peterboro petroglyph style might be his access to the sketches that Selwyn Dewdney did of the site and which he quite probably shared with Norval.
Dewdney was at the Mazinaw pictograph site in 1959 and also mentions the petroglyph site in the first edition of his book.
The two spent some time together with Norval and his family even staying with the Dewdneys in London for a while.
Morrisseau was a keen student who poured through books of indigenous art from across North America even in his Cochenour/Red Lake days in the late 1950’s.
He took his Ojibwe heritage and his grandfather’s stories and a mix of other influences and crearted something unique – the Picasso of the North indeed.
Jim Moore 2018-04-26 at 10:11 am Hi Great site and perceptive slant on the presumptive Native hi jacking of a Canadian resource that should be available to all – without the ‘spiritual’ bullying like ‘no picture taking’.
Why has the Parks toadied to the native demands.
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spartakys 2018-09-15 at 3:59 pm Reblogged this on NEW Sparta.
Anonymous 2019-03-22 at 3:52 pm I first heard about the site from my teacher Paul Sweetman who did the original report, I think it was in 1955 he published it.
My girlfriends and I as Stoney Lake teenagers in the ’60’s tried to find it to no avail.
He was sad nothing had been done after his report.
It was nice to visit later and find it was being preserved.
Reply 2019-03-22 at 5:27 pm Trudi, Paul Sweetman seems to have lived a full life working at things he loved to do.
I googled his name and came up with this summary of his life – https://canadianarchaeology.com/caa/about/awards/recipients/margaret-and-james-f-pendergast-award/paul-sweetman Your 1955 date sounds right since he first visited the site in July 1954.
While some have complained about the structure that protects the rock face, I do have to wonder what they would have suggested instead.
Nice that you eventually found your way to the site.
I had only the vaguest notion about this cultural treasure until about ten years ago.
I’m glad I found my way to it.
Lloyd Walton 2019-03-23 at 12:00 pm OK, I promised some time ago that my book of my search for ancient wisdom found in pictographs and petroglyphs was coming out.
I’ve learned now that publishing in Canada takes time.
I also had to give time, time to act in telling the story properly.
Prior to even starting I had to wait for some form of permission.
The book will be coming out hopefully in June from Friesen Press.
It is now called Chasing the Muse: Canada.
The first part of my story gives my credentials, motivation, and actions to be able to approach what was said at the time, “unknowable” The second part is my odyssey to cross into another dimension of experience and learning, often very funny, often very moving, often dangerous.
I do experience a ceremony on the rock so profound, that there is NO doubt that what I was being taught about the Teaching Rocks was REAL.
My story goes on to tell of the rewards and consequences of my experience.
( I include roughly 150 photographs to prove my stories actually happened.) I have a very good feeling about this book.
I just told my story this week to a sell-out crowd in Ottawa with 80 turned away.
( Among other institutions I have spoken about it is UCLA) Chasing the Muse: Canada, an often funny often moving, often dangerous odyssey in search of Canadian history, identity and landscape, will be available on Amazon.
I can’t get a specific release date yet from the publisher.
I do guarantee that it will be a fun read.
I wish I could post the clever cover here.
Lloyd Walton Reply.
2019-03-23 at 12:54 pm Lloyd, fantastic to hear you got ‘er dun.
I look forward to picking up a copy.
It sounds like the boreal forest version of Castenada’s The Teachings of Don Juan.
If it comes out early enough in June it will come along as nighttime reading as my bro and I paddle down the French River, a very scenic stretch of the epic trans-Anishinaabe water highway, the Trans-Canada of its day.
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The Peterborough Petroglyphs: Building Over An Ancient Algonquian Ritual Site.
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