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  • Outtake/Intake: Owens River Valley

    I recommend the book Left in the Dust: How Race and Politics Created a Human and Environmental Tragedy in L.A. [1]

    Appreciation of rock art cannot be exempt from an awareness of land use, water use, and the related displacements of indigenous peoples by Euro-Americans beginning in the mid-19th century.  That is to say - Claiming and Naming.  

    Karen Piper’s book looks critically and historically at the Owens River Valley, the traditional territories of the Paiute and Shoshone east of the Sierras from north and west of Bishop to Ridgecrest, California.  The book is an indictment of the political economy and environmental devastations wrought by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power beginning in the early-20th century.  (If you’ve seen Chinatown please don’t assume you got the story — read the book.)

    There are dozens of rock art locales in the greater Owens River Valley. The desiccating, dusty impact of the taking of the river for LA via an aqueduct is readily apparent. (I encounter dissonance when the primary flow from the river to the aqueduct is called the “Intake” — it is clearly an Outtake!) This is certainly a hugely complex issue, not only in the first several decades of the “Outtaking,” but how it continues to stimulate conflict and unresolved challenges. In this sense the book, researched for years and published in 2006, was an urgent signal and hopefully acts as a catalyst for meaningful change. [2]

    Images Feb2018: Owens River Valley Petroglyphs

    [1]  Karen Piper, Left in the Dust: How Race and Politics Created a Human and Environmental Tragedy in L.A. (New York: Palgrave, 2006).  [2]  Dreams, Dust, and Birds: The Trashing of Owens Lake  (Karen Piper, Places, January 2011).   http://www.karenpiper.com/