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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Reply to Whitley


Whitley suggests that I "misrepresent" both his research and the ethnographic record of California and the Great Basin. Yet Whitley's vigorous responses to my unpublished articles (cited in his comment) has, I feel, presented a rather misleading impression of my research. Whitley claims that my research continues a "hundred-year-long history of implicitly racist attitudes in American archaeology" (Whitley et al. 1999:17) and that I advocate "archaeology for academic Euro-Americans but not Native Americans" (Whitley 2000:31). Given the central role that ethnography plays in my critical appraisal of Whitley's shamanic interpretation of California and Great Basin rock art, such conclusions are hard to maintain.

Instead, I disagree that Whitley's metaphoric re-analysis of the relevant ethnography demonstrates the visionary basis of rock art imagery in these regions. In my opinion, Whitley's approach pays insufficient attention to negative evidence and uses culturally specific information too broadly as an ethnographic analogy explicating the contexts of historic and prehistoric rock art production. This trait is exemplified by the way Whitley seems to believe that Monache and Yokuts ethnography can provide a template for understanding all California and Great Basin rock art.

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