River Drawdown Reveals 1,000-Year-Old Rock Art

Native American petroglyphs expert Paul Nevin consults a map of some 150 carvings on Little Indian Rock below the Safe Harbor Dam. (Photo Credit: Ad Crable LNP/LancasterOnline.com)

By AD CRABLE, LNP newspaper

CONESTOGA, Pa. (AP) — Until Paul Nevin produces a soft bristle brush and bucket of Susquehanna River water from his johnboat, the tip of a softly rounded boulder in the tailrace of the Safe Harbor Dam looks like any other rock.

But then the York County resident washes away the patina of caked mud. Shadows from the setting sun reveal sacred carvings from a people long gone.

A thunderbird, a powerful spirit for Native Americans that gives thanks to the creator for rain, appears in the gloaming, its body bisected by a serpentlike creature.

It is one of about 300 carvings on seven mica schist rocks amid a jumble of other rocks out here in the middle of the river. It is believed they were carved by Shenks Ferry Native Americans, using simple stone tools over a period from 500 to 1,000 years ago.

Because of a drawdown to repair the top of the Holtwood Dam downriver, the water level is down more than 3 feet this day, giving Nevin a chance to see carvings normally buried underwater.

This carving Nevin knew about, but he hasn't seen it in about five years. He runs his fingers gently inside its narrow outline, greeting it like an old friend.

Little Indian Rock in the lower Susquehanna River. (Photo Credit: Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission)

"For Native Americans, this is a sacred place," he says. "And you feel it when you are out here.

Not Graffiti

The Jennings petroglyph was removed to Seton Hall University to save it from being covered by the lake that was to be formed behind the Tocks Island Dam. (Photo Credit: Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission)

Originally seen as insignificant graffiti when first recorded in the 1860s by the Linnaean Society of Lancaster, the petroglyphs on 25 miles of the Lower Susquehanna are celebrated by archaeologists today as the finest example of Native American carvings in the Northeastern United States.

All are on the National Register of Historic Places.

And to the 62-year-old Nevin, who has discovered some 150 new carvings since the 1980s, it is apparent they are far more than doodlings.

There are four carvings that correspond exactly to the position of the sun for the spring and fall equinoxes and the summer and winter solstices. There are representations of the Seven Sisters constellation.

And the carvings include lots of serpentlike creatures, concentric circles, human footprints and faces, as well as elk, martens and other animals that once populated the area.

The "Water Panther" at the Parker's Landing petroglyph. (Photo Credit: Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission)

"These symbols meant a lot to these people," says Nevin, who has been searching for, documenting and protecting the Safe Harbor petroglyphs for 35 years.

"They were meant to either transmit knowledge, stories, to give information about where the people lived or who they were. Maybe places where medicine men would come to receive visions to help their community."

Most petroglyphs were formed using harder stones (direct percussion) or hammer-stones and stone chisels (indirect percussion). (Photo Credit: Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission)

Clearly, this spot was a sacred site. Of 27,000 square miles drained by the Susquehanna, petroglyphs have only been found at about 10 sites, all on rocks in the river between Turkey Hill and just below the Maryland line.

Forgotten by Time

From 1930-32, before the Safe Harbor Dam was built over the top of many petroglyphs and drowned others, the state made a major effort to document the rock art.

Some 188 plaster casts were made, and 68 sections of rock containing petroglyphs were cut from the bedrock.

Producing plaster and latex molds can easily damage the petroglyphs. The best way to record the images is to photograph them under good lighting conditions. (Photo Credit: Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission)

Some may be seen at the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg. A few are on display at the Conestoga Area Historical Society and the Blue Rock Heritage Center in Washington Boro.

The designs of seven of the Safe Harbor petroglyphs are inlaid in the tile in the entrance lobby of the state Capitol.

After the state's two-year expedition ended and the Safe Harbor Dam opened, many people assumed the remaining petroglyphs were underwater, and they were more or less forgotten.

In one desecration, concrete footings for two duck blinds were poured over the carvings in the 1950s.

More modern graffiti has been added through the years, including the initials of a World War I soldier from Albany, New York, who visited on a summer day in 1917, and a carving of a dove with an olive branch believed added in the 1880s on Big Indian Rock.





Information from: LNP, http://lancasteronline.com

IHS Partners with Universities to Train Pharmacy Students

The Indian Health Service (IHS) announced new Collaborative Agreements between the agency and three top American universities: Howard University, Purdue University and the University of Southern California, to participate in the IHS Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience Program. This Program provides opportunities for pharmacy students to gain clinical experience at IHS facilities and it also serves to recruit future health care professionals to work in rural areas, specifically in Indian Country.

"Through the IHS Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience Program, we develop meaningful partnerships with top universities that train the next generation of health care professionals, while providing opportunities for students to gain practical hands-on experience," said Mary L. Smith, IHS Principal Deputy Director. "Upon completion, many return to start their career in providing quality health care to the American Indian and Alaska Native community."

"My experience with IHS as a student inspired me to apply to work here when I graduated," Fengyee Zhou, a recent IHS externship participant, now a pharmacist at the IHS Whiteriver Indian Hospital. "The level of teamwork among all health care disciplines and the extent to which pharmacists engage in patient care activities brought me back to Whiteriver."

Under these agreements, Doctor of Pharmacy candidates at partner universities will join students from more than 80 universities in 39 states to complete rotations at IHS direct service facilities.

"We are delighted to partner with the Indian Health Service to give important clinical experience opportunities for our students and to contribute to the IHS mission of providing excellent patient care," said Dr. Craig K. Svensson, Dean of the Purdue College of Pharmacy.

In addition to the Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience Program, IHS offers internships, externships, rotations and residencies to pharmacy, behavioral health, dentistry, optometry, nursing and medical students. IHS also announced an estimated $13.7 million will be available for scholarships and $30 million will be available for loan repayments this year.

"This program provides valuable experience for potential IHS health care employees," said Erik Chosa, a program participant before he joined IHS as a pharmacist at Crow/Northern Cheyenne Hospital for 14 years. He now serves as the IHS Billings Area Pharmacy Consultant. "It allows future health care professionals to experience how rewarding it can be to work at IHS."

IHS works to continually improve recruitment and retention of health care professions by offering competitive programs, scholarships and incentives. In the past year, IHS expanded pay scales, increased the availability of relocation incentives to recruit qualified staff and expanded its scholarship and loan repayment programs. Additionally, IHS streamlined the recruitment process with the introduction of the Global Recruitment Initiative to make it simpler for health professionals to find and apply for jobs; and increased the number of facilities eligible for National Health Service Corps opportunities.


IHS Awards Tribal Management Grants to Support Tribal Self-Determination

The Indian Health Service (IHS) has issued Tribal Management Grant Program awards to 17 tribes and tribal organizations, totaling more than $1.6 million. These annual IHS tribal management grants are intended to assist tribes in preparing to assume all or part of existing IHS programs, functions, services and activities and further develop and improve their health management capability.

“The tribal management grants are an example of how we are working with tribes and tribal organizations to assist them in assuming the responsibility of providing health care to their members and to operate and manage health care programs or services previously provided by IHS,” said IHS Acting Director Rear Adm. Michael D. Weahkee. “The partnership between IHS and the tribes and tribal organizations we serve is critical to our success in providing access to quality health care for American Indians and Alaska Natives.”

The Tribal Management Grant Program is designed to enhance and develop health management infrastructure and assist tribes and tribal organizations in assuming all or part of existing IHS programs, functions, services, and activities through Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act  (ISDEAA) agreements and to assist American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and tribal organizations with ISDEAA Title I and Title V agreements to further develop and improve their management capability. The Tribal Management Grant program consists of four project types with various funding amounts and project periods. The project types include: Feasibility Study, Planning, Evaluation Study, and Health Management Structure.

The following tribes and tribal organizations received funding:

  • Aroostook Band of Micmacs, Presque Isle, Maine, $100,000
  • Canoncito Band of Navajo Health Center, Inc., Tohajiilee, New Mexico, $135,219
  • Coquille Indian Tribe, North Bend, Oregon, $50,000
  • Five Sandoval Indian Pueblos, Inc., Rio Rancho, New Mexico, $97,800
  • Great Plains Tribal Chairmen's Health Board, Rapid City, South Dakota, $126,807
  • Indian Health Council, Valley Center, California, $55,000
  • Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, Hayward, Wisconsin, $100,000
  • Mathiesen Memorial Health Center, Jamestown, California, $97,943
  • Sanford Tribal Consortium, Gakona, Alaska, $104,811
  • North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians of California, North Fork, California, $100,000
  • Northern Arapaho Business Council, Fort Washakie, Wyoming, $100,000
  • Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi, Fulton, Michigan, $70,000
  • Oglala Sioux Tribe, Pine Ridge, South Dakota, $100,000
  • Osage Nation, Pawhuska, Oklahoma, $100,000
  • Seldovia Village Tribe, Seldovia, Alaska, $140,447
  • Susanville Indian Rancheria, Susanville, California, $35,000
  • Three Affiliated Tribes, New Town, North Dakota, $127,708

The IHS Office of Direct Service and Contracting Tribes provides information, technical assistance, and policy coordination in support of Indian self-determination. ODSCT is the primary focal point for ISDEAA Title I activities and implementation. ODSCT provides agency leadership and advocacy for direct service tribes in the development of health policy program management and budget allocation and advises the IHS director and senior management on direct service tribes issues and concerns. ODSCT also coordinates and collaborates with the Direct Service Tribes Advisory Committee to host a national forum for all tribal leaders to discuss best practices, partnerships and resources to improve the Indian health care delivery system.

The IHS, an agency in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides a comprehensive health service delivery system for approximately 2.2 million American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Spread The Word...
Share on Facebook
0Share on Google+
0Tweet about this on Twitter
Share on LinkedIn