Up until his death in 2000, LaVan Martineau devoted over forty years to unlocking the secrets behind the petroglyph (and pictograph) symbols left by the Native American. Part Indian himself, adept in sign language, fluent in native languages, and expert in cryptanalytical methods, he brought a unique perspective to the challenge and opened the door to a new understanding of the meanings behind the symbols. Carol Patterson, in Montrose, Colorado, carries on his legacy in her studies of the symbols using his methods to expand our knowledge of rock art and symbology.
Throughout the southwest, Native Americans have left images pecked or painted on canyon walls, caves and large stones. Like so many others, I wonder whether these images represent stories or just graffiti. Were the artists just doodling in their idle time, or were they leaving a message for their friends and posterity?
I am convinced that most of the petroglyphs and pictographs were, in fact, messages and stories. I say this because although there are many recognizable depictions of animals, people, reptiles, etc., that could be just random doodling by bored children or adults to pass the time, there are also many abstract symbols that, like our alphabet, have no likeness in nature and therefore must represent a common concept.