Arrow Canyon Site Petroglyphs

Arrow Canyon - Moapa

To this day, Arrow Canyon is considered sacred by the Paiutes. The Moapa Band of Paiutes still resides in the area just east of the Arrow Canyon Range. The petroglyphs in the canyon were likely carved by both the modern Paiutes and their historical precursors, possibly as far back as the Desert Archaic peoples. The area is considered so sacred that Ghost Dance ceremonies were held nearby. As you can see from the examples in the two collages below (Figs. 01 & 02) many of the motifs are angular, abstract, geometric, and enigmatic. Straight lines, arcs, and circles are combined to form apparently unrelated designs that some have likened to astronomical phenomena but that are more likely the product of psychedelic visions. Many of the individual glyphs are quite similar to other Great Basin glyphs I have observed up in the Pahranagat Valley, north of this area. The only representational glyphs in this style are hand, paw, and hoof prints, and some human stick figures, usually male. Because many of the abstract geometric designs appear disorganized and random, it is highly likely that they are products of visions induced during altered states of consciousness. Comparative studies have demonstrated that during trance, all people, regardless of their place of origin, experience the same visual abstractions. Also, images such as bear paws, snakes and bighorn sheep, as well as a couple of anthropomorphs that appear to have “horns” on their heads, are commonly associated with images drawn as part of a shaman’s vision quest. As is apparent by the different degree of coloring found on some of the panels (Figs. 03 & 05), it appears some images have have either been repaginated or added at a later time.

(Fig. 01)
(Fig. 02)
(Fig. 03)
(Fig. 04)
(Fig. 05)