The late Barry Fell was a gifted scholar. It was in a book written by him called Saga America that brought INY-272 or Inyo to serious attention. Alas, problems arose in the publication. Although authenticated by Dr. Robert Heizer, some sketches proved inaccurate. Saga America was soundly denounced. Yet, the material he published about Inyo has proven significant. Not all Saga America was in error. Sadly, his revelations are not accepted (nor liked) by the scientific community. Archaeology has rejected Dr. Fell's findings unfairly. Dr. Norman Totten wrote an elegant rebuttal to many of the unfair accusations made against Dr. Fell, but the professional archaeological publications making the slanderous attacks refused to print them. Inyo is a fair and scientific proof to judge the correctness of the decipherments of Barry Fell and the recognitions of others.
The local People had little contact with Americans until about 1860. History records a meeting between a Paiute leader and the new cattle ranchers. The cattlemen called him "Chief George." This man knew of the importance of Inyo, he called it "dwelling place of a great spirit." The U. S. Army was called in to end the "Indian troubles" and Chief George was arrested and held captive until his death. Thousands of Native People died in this little known war. The survivors were incarcerated for three generations and released to a reservation.
Natural events, some local and some far dispersed have affected Inyo. Bitter winters have taken their toll, some rocks have fallen, but the major damage is man made, the latest being destruction of the playa ceremonial areas and dynamiting the cliff face for a Federal road building project. Inyo was marble and nearby quarrying activity has left many scars. We are very fortunate that the sites importance has been discovered, but we need to learn more.
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It was the renowned epigrapher, Dr. Barry
Fell, who initiated the modern exploration of the Inyo location.
Archaeologists had previously looked at the petroglyph
site and reported them to be typical 'Indian doodling' and
nothing special. Lately, as an authorative group, the archaeologists
have taken to proffering that
petroglyphs may have been created by Native People "under the
influence of hallucinogenic drugs." This theory is simply wrong.
Our investigations have revealed something else entirely. The Native
People were religious environmentalists. This is especially true for times
prior to pre-Columbian contact, the era of the creation of Inyo.
"Doodling" is damaging to the Earth Mother. As a matter of
established cultural docterine, "doodling" was simply not done.
This is a myth born from ignorance or possibly from a place postcontact
in origin. We have carefully examined areas
to the north and south of Inyo. Both are relative equals as
shoreline and both shared the results of being scoured and
rounded by wave strewn rocks. As a medium for "doodling," they
are Inyo's equal. Neither area showed any signs of "doodling.
" The idea that the petroglyphs were created by shamen "under the
influence of hallucinogenic drugs" is simply another excuse to
demean the Native People.
The Inyo location demonstrates the supported efforts of People who calculated solar position with remarkable precision and employed natural heliolithic features to demonstrate religious concordance. These folks were clever and intelligent. The drugs claim feeds upon the anti-drug hysteria of the current government and resides with "the works of the devil" as an excuse to demean and justify the destruction of the heritage of the original inhabitants of a once free land.
Epigraphy, the study of stone carved messages (a cousin of paleography) is cause for these discoveries. What we found is an untended religous shrine and library of the Native People. The evidence is carved upon the very bedrock at Inyo. Roderick L. Schmidt and The Equinox Project are proud to make this presentation.
Inyo was the goal of pilgrimage. The evidence is carved and pecked on the bedrock more than two thousand years ago. Pilgrims added their own messages to the existent work, not as grafitti, but as fervent and serious votive prayer. Inyo may have been part of an organized spirit quest. The Inyo animation, a vernal equinox event, is subtle and slow paced, but also a spiritual epiphany when recognized. Inyo was important up to the time of conquest. There is evidence that the local Shoshone were venerators, caretakers and hosts to the pilgrims into historic times.