Sometime this summer a set of pictographs on Kootenay Lake were desecrated

Kootenay Lake pictograph desecrated

RCMP are investigating after a piece of local history was vandalized over the summer.

RCMP are investigating after a piece of local history was vandalized over the summer.

Alistair Fraser noticed damage to some cliff-side pictographs, which occurred sometime between June 22 and September 24, and posted before-and-after photos on his blog.

The pictographs are now covered in light blue splotches that may have been fired by a paintball gun.

“I am distraught,” Fraser wrote. “Our pictographs are certainly the cultural heritage of First Nations, but beyond that, they are a signpost for us all. They speak to our collective deep ancestry.

“Alas, this archaeological artifact has been damaged to the point of obscuring the storyline. Not only does the blue (paint splatter?) disfigure, the dark seeping stain from it further obscures. Someone appears to have cavalierly disfigured thousands of years of history.”

Another man commented on the blog: “As a former tournament paintball player, this makes me annoyed because it makes the local paintball community look bad when it is most likely some punk who doesn’t even play the game.”

Judging from the photos, the paint appears to be oil-based, unlike tournament paint which is much brighter and water based, he added.

The pictographs just west of Nelson are only accessible by boat. Cpl. Michael Stefani says they are looking for any information on the culprits, but have no suspects. “I am hoping the [publicity] will generate some discussion and an awareness to help prevent this in the future,” he said.

In a news release, Stefani quoted the Parks Canada website Forgotten Dreams: “For millennia, aboriginal people in what is now western Canada left traces of their cultural history recorded on stone in the form of pictographs, or rock paintings. Often, pictographs were made to record significant events — a battle, a treaty, or even a long journey.”

The damage has also been reported to provincial authorities.

BC’s Heritage Conservation Act includes penalties of up to two years in prison and fines of $1 million for destroying or disturbing archaeological sites.