Rock art and the transformation of history in the southwestern United States

Kelley A Hays-Gilpin, Dennis Gilpin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


On the northern frontier of the Spanish colony of New Mexico in the 1600s, people from several cultural origins were pressed by slave raiding and other pressures to come together with a distinctive identity and culture known today as Navajo. They developed a distinctive and sustainable lifeway and cosmology. We argue that apparent shifts from sacred to secular imagery, and from timeless iconic spiritual imagery to biographical-style accounts of male prestige activities, are oversimplified interpretations of Navajo rock art. Navajo rock art expresses ethnogenesis, gender relations, and values through deliberate invention of a distinct series of styles and iconographies. Navajo rock art expresses strength and resilience in adapting to tensions and contradictions embedded in their history.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)294-304
Number of pages11
JournalAustralian Archaeology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2 2018


  • North America
  • Rock art
  • contact

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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