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Vandals deface the Sanilac Petroglyphs

Earlier this year, Michigan Department of Natural Resources staff at Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic State Park discovered that vandals had broken in and carved three images on the rock that holds carvings made hundreds of years ago.

“We are all deeply saddened by this disrespectful act,” said Sandra Clark, director of the Michigan History Center, which interprets the petroglyphs for the public at this state park near Cass City, Michigan. “The petroglyphs were created by people who lived in what is now Michigan centuries ago. They are part of all of our history, and they have a deep spiritual meaning for many Anishinabek who live in the Great Lakes Region today.”

The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan partners with the state in interpreting the petroglyphs, which are called ezhibiigaadek asin (“written on stone”) in the Anishinabemowin language.

“The Sanilac Petroglyphs are one of the most important connections we have to our past within the region,” said Tribal Chief Frank Cloutier of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan. “The stories that are handed down from generation to generation thread our past to the present. We need to preserve diba jimooyung (‘telling our stories’).

“Pictures, stories and our language are all we have that identifies our Anishinabek people,” he added. “Without proper protections of these ancient treasures we run the risk of losing precious sacred information. My community needs these treasures protected and secured. The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan will do everything we can to partner with the State of Michigan to assist with this.”

The DNR and the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan ask that anyone with information concerning the individuals who defaced the Sanilac Petroglyphs call or text the DNR Report All Poaching (RAP) hotline at 800-292-7800. Information also may be shared via the DNR web-based RAP reporting form.

Individuals may qualify for a reward, provided by the Michigan History Center, if they submit information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the vandals.

“We urge the public to be our added eyes and ears in the field to assist Michigan’s state parks and recreation system in protecting these and other cultural treasures from such senseless acts of vandalism,” said Ron Olson, chief of DNR Parks and Recreation Division. “Please alert park rangers and staff if you witness any suspicious activity that may threaten this area.”

The Michigan History Center is an agency within the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.