National Park Service, Tribe investigating desecration of archaeological site

NEWHALEM, Wash. -- The National Park Service is investigating the desecration of an archaeological site in the North Cascades National Park Service Complex, and the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe is hoping to bring those responsible to justice.

The Skagit Valley Herald reports evidence of digging was found over the summer at the Newhalem Rock Shelter camp used by the ancestors of the Upper Skagit tribe.

“We were shocked and dismayed that someone would do something like this at a cultural site,” the tribe's Natural Resources Director Scott Schuyler said. “Some of these places are thousands of years old, and the fact that someone would want to come in and purposely destroy, damage or steal, it’s just unbelievable.”

North Cascades National Park Service Complex Chief Ranger Brandon Torres said that according to park records the shelter was discovered in 1989. After that a short trail and a viewing platform were built so visitors could look and learn from a safe distance.

The tribe supports this type of visitation, and Schuyler said tribal members helped with interpretive signs about the tribes’ history that are installed at the viewing platform.

The tribe is working with the Park Service on the investigation and offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to those responsible.