<- here's one of the "evil" images
Christian zealots destroy ancient Arctic petroglyphs
Randy Boswell, CanWest News Service
Published: Saturday, August 26, 2006
Canada's only major Arctic petroglyph site -- a 1,500-year-old gallery of mysterious faces carved into a soapstone ridge on a tiny island off of Quebec's northern coast -- has been ransacked by vandals in what the region's top archeologist suspects was a religiously motivated attack by devout Christians from a nearby Inuit community.
For years, heritage advocates have sought special protection for the ancient etchings at Qajartalik Island, located about one hour by boat from the 500-resident village of Kangiqsujuaq. Experts believe they were created by the extinct Dorset culture, an artistically advanced civilization that occupied much of the eastern Arctic before they were killed or driven away by the Thule ancestors of modern Inuit.
More than 170 mask-like images, animal shapes and other symbols have been recorded on the island since the 1960s. Studies suggest Qajartalik was a sacred place, used for Dorset spiritual ceremonies and coming-of-age rituals.
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Long-running negotiations between Nunavut, Quebec and the federal government over the ownership of the Hudson Strait islands has delayed for a decade plans to protect the cultural treasure, which Arctic scholars have touted as a natural candidate to become a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Two ancient African rock art sites achieved that status earlier this summer, and Canada recently short-listed Alberta's Writing-on-Stone petroglyphs for a UNESCO designation.
Now, dreams of global renown for Qajartalik may be dashed after a visit to the island last month by Quebec cultural officials revealed extensive damage to the prehistoric drawings, including deep gouges across many of the faces.
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Federal, provincial and territorial governments, he added, "have refused to do anything about this site" before the jurisdiction of offshore islands is settled, possibly by 2007.
"Now, it may be too late."
You can read the article here.