2016-09-07 / Opinion

In My Opinion

A past and future worth saving
Sanilac County Historic Village & Museum

There are things in this world worth saving. That’s an easy statement, everyone has a favorite photo or keepsake or some other material object that springs to mind when you talk about their most prized possession. But what about collectively? Do we as a county, or as a community have things that are worth our time, or our efforts to save?

The answer is of course yes, and in the Thumb, and especially in Sanilac County there are a variety of collective efforts that are yearly on display that exhibit this fact. Examine the fierce defense of CPS by local families when discussion of closing the school district arose, or the efforts communities make to ensure their town’s festivals or celebrations continue and improve. If you need a constant physical reminder of what the efforts of dedicated people from Sanilac County can do just take a jaunt over to Port Sanilac and take a look at the Sanilac County Historic Village and Museum, or the Barn Theatre, both volunteer run organizations whose achievements have far exceeded their budgetary resources year in and year out.

The list of the efforts put forward by the people of this county, past and present, with limited resources could easily take up the six-hundred words I am allotted here, but there is one area, one thing that I argue is well worth saving, and is being lost, slowly but surely every day. It has been largely surrendered to the elements, allowed to fade out of existence, with erosion and moss growth endangering this site.

I write of course about the Sanilac Petroglyphs. For those of you reading this that don’t know, there exists in this county a wonder that is rarely seen on this continent. The Petroglyphs are a series of carvings in a sandstone rock that most experts believe are between 300 and 1000 years old. While the figures depicted are open to varied interpretations, the most widely accepted theories argue that the carvings are depictions of Algonquin myth and prophecy, full of mystery and meaning.

Now, there has been talk about what to do to save the Petroglyphs ever since they were given to the State. At the time vandalism was the great worry, but soon the elements became the greater enemy. Plans were put forward, and forgotten, and new plans made which likewise fell by the wayside. Administrations came and went in Lansing, with the Petroglyphs and its attendant park being shelved in favor of other projects and priorities. Eventually an open sided pavilion was built, with a chain link fence surrounding the carvings was completed, and even some signs were erected along the path from the parking lot to the stone.

This has not been enough, the Petroglyphs have continued to fade with time, slowly but surely. There is some hope for the future: both the Michigan History Center and several tribes have taken an active interest in the future of the site. There is at the very least interest in repairing and updating old facilities. While much more needs to be done, it may be possible to save this gem yet.

One piece is missing in order to ensure future success: an engaged local community. We can put pressure on officials to make the preservation of the Petroglyphs a priority. We can make phone calls, write letters and fill up in-boxes. At the very least we can visit the Petroglyphs and the park that surrounds it. If the same tenacity is shown trying to save the Petroglyphs as has been shown elsewhere then the site’s future is bright indeed.

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