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State officials and a Michigan Native American tribe are asking the public to help find vandals who defaced a rock that holds carvings that are hundreds of years old.

Staff with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources at the Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic State Park discovered vandals carved three images on the rock earlier this year. The park is located near Cass City in Sanilac County.

“We are all deeply saddened by this disrespectful act,” Sandra Clark, director of the Michigan History Center, said in a statement Friday. “The petroglyphs were created by people who lived in what is now Michigan centuries ago. They are part of all of our history, and they have a deep spiritual meaning for many Anishinabek who live in the Great Lakes Region today.”

The Michigan History Center interprets the petroglyphs, called ezhibiigaadek asin (“written on stone”) in the Anishinabemowin language, for the public at the Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic State Park.

The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan is also calling on the public to help find the culprits.

“The Sanilac Petroglyphs are one of the most important connections we have to our past within the region,” Tribal Chief Frank Cloutier said. “The stories that are handed down from generation to generation thread our past to the present. We need to preserve diba jimooyung (‘telling our stories’)." 

Anyone with information about the incident or the vandals should call or text the DNR's Report All Poaching hotline at (800) 292-7800. They can also submit tips via the DNR web-based RAP reporting form.

Individuals who submit information that leads to an arrest and conviction may qualify for a reward, officials said.

"We urge the public to be our added eyes and ears in the field to assist Michigan's state parks and recreation system in protecting these and other cultural treasures from such senseless acts of vandalism," said Ron Olson, chief of the DNR's Parks and Recreation Division. "Please alert park rangers and staff if you witness any suspicious activity that may threaten this area."

cramirez@detroitnews.com

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