Statement on Vandalism at the La Cieneguilla Petroglyphs in the Caja del Rio

October 21, 2022 – Santa Fe, N.M.

Today, members of the coalition to protect the Caja del Rio released the following statement on a recent news report that the La Cieneguilla Petroglyphs located in Santa Fe County were vandalized: 

“These ancient etchings hold significant spiritual and cultural value to tribal communities in New Mexico, and defacing them is a deep and personal insult to our ancestors,” said Brophy Toledo, cultural advisor for the Flower Hill Institute and co-founder of the Chaco Heritage Association. “This vandalism must be stopped immediately and is exactly why we are calling for better protection of the Caja del Rio. We call on the Bureau of Land Management to investigate the matter quickly and prosecute anyone found guilty to the fullest extent of the law. We also call on others to join our coalition to help protect the Caja so we can prevent these kinds of things from happening in the future.”

“Sadly, this is not the first time that sacred sites in the Caja del Rio have been defaced, but it should be the last,” said Andrew Black, public lands field director for the National Wildlife Federation and executive director of Earthkeepers 360. “Every instance of vandalism, illegal dumping and shooting reminds us that we need permanent, federal protection of these lands as soon as possible.”

Earlier this year, the ancient Petroglyphs were significantly vandalized. On January 18th, 2022, visitors to the Petroglyph site reported multiple drawings and stone etchings had been spray painted with derogatory language and symbols, including swastikas. Some of these etchings date as far back as 8,000 years.

Members of the coalition to project the Caja del Rio regularly host guided hiking tours and clean-up days of the landscape, with the next event happening on Saturday, November 5th.

The Santa Fe County community is invited to participate in a moderate, interactive hiking tour beginning at 8:45a.m. followed by a public clean-up beginning at 11:30a.m. Those interested in attending should meet at the BLM La Cieneguilla Petroglyph Site off Highway 56, 674 Paseo Real, Santa Fe, NM 87507.

“While law enforcement investigates the matter, we invite the public to see the beauty of the Caja and turn this tragedy into a positive moment during our next guided hike and clean-up day on November 5th,” added Black.

The coalition to project the Caja del Rio is made up of a diverse group of community members advocating for permanent federal protection of these sacred lands, including the La Cieneguilla Petroglyphs. At approximately 107,000 acres, the Caja del Rio is one of the most ecologically rich and culturally significant landscapes in New Mexico.

Visitors to the area are encouraged to report vandalism or other misuse of the Caja del Rio by calling the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s office at 505 428-3720 or the BLM Taos Field Office 575-758-8851.

To learn more about the campaign to protect the Caja del Rio, visit

Scroll to Top