This text is republished right here with permission from The Associated Press. This content material is shared right here as a result of the subject might curiosity Snopes readers; it doesn’t, nonetheless, signify the work of Snopes fact-checkers or editors.
O’FALLON, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri cave containing Native American art work from greater than 1,000 years in the past was bought at public sale Tuesday, disappointing leaders of the Osage Nation who hoped to purchase the land to “protect and preserve our most sacred site.”
A bidder agreed to pay $2.2 million to non-public homeowners for what’s referred to as “Picture Cave,” alongside with the 43 hilly acres that encompass it close to the city of Warrenton, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) west of St. Louis.
Bryan Laughlin, director of Selkirk Auctioneers & Appraisers, the St. Louis-based agency dealing with the public sale, mentioned the profitable bidder declined to be named. A St. Louis household that’s owned the land since 1953 has primarily used it for looking.
The cave was the positioning of sacred rituals and burying of the useless. It additionally has greater than 290 prehistoric glyphs, or hieroglyphic symbols used to signify sounds or meanings, “making it the largest collection of indigenous people’s polychrome paintings in Missouri,” based on the public sale web site.
That’s precisely why Carol Diaz-Granados opposed the sale. She and her husband, James Duncan, spent 20 years researching the cave and wrote a ebook about it. Duncan is a scholar in Osage oral historical past, and Diaz-Granados is a analysis affiliate within the anthropology division at Washington College in St. Louis.
“Auctioning off a sacred American Indian site truly sends the wrong message,” Diaz-Granados mentioned. “It’s like auctioning off the Sistine Chapel.”
The Osage Nation, in a press release, referred to as the sale “truly heartbreaking.”
“Our ancestors lived in this area for 1300 years,” the assertion learn. “This was our land. We have hundreds of thousands of our ancestors buried throughout Missouri and Illinois, including Picture Cave.”
The cave options drawings of individuals, animals, birds and legendary creatures. Diaz-Granados mentioned numerous means have been used to create the artwork. Charred botanical materials was used to attract. For one depiction of a legendary being, the artist created a white determine by scraping off the brown sandstone.
Diaz-Granados mentioned the intricate particulars set the Missouri cave aside from different websites with historic drawings.
“You get stick figures in other rock art sites, or maybe one little feather on the top of the head, or a figure holding a weapon,” she mentioned. “But in Picture Cave you get actual clothing details, headdress details, feathers, weapons. It’s truly amazing.”
Years in the past, analytical chemists from Texas A&M used pigment samples to find out the drawings have been no less than 1,000 years previous.
The cave has different historical past, too, Laughlin mentioned. European explorers visited within the 1700s and wrote the ship captain’s identify and names of some crew members on the partitions. It’s additionally the year-round house to endangered Indiana grey bats.
Laughlin mentioned there are many causes to imagine the cave will stay each protected and revered. For one, he mentioned, Selkirk vetted potential consumers.
Then there’s the regulation.
Missouri Revised Statute 194.410 states that any individual or entity that “knowingly disturbs, destroys, vandalizes, or damages a marked or unmarked human burial site commits a class D felony.” The statute additionally makes it a felony to revenue from cultural objects obtained from the positioning.
Lastly, there’s the situation.
“You can’t take a vehicle and just drive up to the cave. You have to actually trek through the woods to higher ground and go through a 3-foot-by-3-foot opening that’s secured by the Missouri Historical Society with steel bars,” Laughlin mentioned.
Diaz-Granados is holding out hope that the brand new proprietor will donate it to the Osage Nation.
“That’s their cave,” she mentioned. “That’s their sacred shrine, and it should go back to them.”