Day 9 “On the Road” Geoglyphs/Intaglios in Blythe, CA
March 18th, 2014
Out the door by 8:30 AM to meet Alfredo Figueroa. He is an elder from the Chemehuevi tribe, as well as an historian. He is also a “tribal monitor” – designated to protect sacred sites in the area. He enthusiastically greeted us in front of his house when we drove up. My first impression is memorable. He is a spry man of 80 years old, donning a fedora and khaki pants, with big smile. He invited us inside, introduced us to his grown daughter Patricia, and we took a seat around his dining room table. Here we learned about the ancient sacred sites in the area. We listened to his wonderful stories and teachings about not only the better-known Blythe Intaglios, for which we journeyed here to view, but also the lesser-known intaglios not far from Alfredo’s home. Alfredo joined David in David’s car, I joined Patricia in hers, and off we went to see the lesser-known Intaglios.
These faint-lined Intaglios barely visible until you get up close, were in a place we never would have found without guidance. Once Alfredo pointed out to us the ancient etched lines in the sand, we could indeed make out the giant shapes of beings reaching up to the sky. In Alfredo’s words, this is a sign of their makers attempt to communicate with the cosmos.
These are not unlike the celebrated Nazca Lines of Peru, where Erich von Dä niken, author of ”Chariots of the Gods” theorized that the gigantic geoglyihs were actually landing strips for alien spacecraft. No evidence of aliens was found, but a sacred monument to the memory of native artisans who created the Intaglios – said to be thousands of years old.
Unfortunately, the entire area bordering these geogliphs is currently designated for solar development by McCoy Solar Energy, LLC.
Yes there is a tiny sign very hard to find that reads, protected, please do not disturb artifacts, but my escort, Patricia was nearly brought to tears when witnessing how frail and invisible the boundary appears from where the solar development has raked the landscape to prepare for building, and the lines of the geogliphs/intaglios.
The proposed solar energy generating facility, according to McCoy Solar, LLC, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, would be capable of generating enough electricity to power approximately 264,000 homes. Also according to the developers, the majority of the project would be developed on public land administered by the Bureau of Land Management using approximately 4,165 acres of BLM land and approximately 469 acres of private land. However, no little or no measures have been put in place to protect the geogliphs on the land that butts up right next to the proposed development area.
The enormity of the Figueroa’s concern pressed upon us. Their need for money in the form of $25,000 is dire – to erect a fence around this ancient site. To protect it for generations to come.
We said our farewells, David and I promising to do what we can to help them, and drove on our own, further up the road to see the Blythe Intaglios. They lined etchings in the sand were far more defined than the Intaglios Alfredo and Patricia had just shown us. But then again, protective fencing surrounds them.
As we continued our drive North to Las Vegas, my mind reeled with the stories the Figueroas had shared with us. How hard they had worked years ago, to organize the migrant farm workers. How hard they continue to work to protect their sacred lands. How much they need our help in ensuring they continue to honor their heritage and the heritage of their people…How frail the signs of their past remains. How easy it all is to erase…
On our approach to Vegas, the skyline with so many buildings was a shock to the system after so many days on the road with only the vast expanse of desert before us…We checked into our hotel in Henderson exhausted, so dined in the hotel and called it a day.