Ancient Visions

Petroglyphs and Pictographs of the Wind River and Bighorn Country, Wyoming and Montana

The Bighorn and Wind River basins of north-central Wyoming and southern Montana have been home to Native American tribes for at least 11,000 years and contain some of the most diverse assemblages of hunter-gatherer rock art anywhere in the world. Most notable are the spectacular and surreal images of the Dinwoody tradition, but there is also a startling array of other forms from shield-bearing warriors to animals, plants, and abstract images. Ancient Visions presents a sampling of these wonderful rock art figures.

Julie Francis and Lawrence Loendorf contend that Native Americans, past and present, hold traditional knowledge that is central to an understanding of these images. By combining the ethnographic record with consultation of traditional leaders in modern Native communities, they offer compelling evidence that highly complex belief systems and religious experience form the context for the vast majority of petroglyphs and pictographs in the region.

The authors also show how this ancient imagery can be integrated with the archaeological record. Modern advances in rock-art dating techniques allow them to begin the process of incorporating image styles with archaeological chronologies. The result is a new approach that offers a much different archaeological picture of the ancient Bighorn and Wind River basins.

Julie E. Francis is an archaeologist with the Wyoming Department of Transportation.

Lawrence L. Loendorf is professor of anthropology at New Mexico State University, and owner of Loendorf and Associates.

Praise and Reviews:

"One of the most interesting books on North American rock art ever written."—David Whitley, author of The Art of the Shaman: Rock Art of California