The purpose of this website is to document and share some of the spiritual communications of the Kumeyaay and Tipai Native Americans portrayed in their pictographs and petroglyphs. We are fortunate that these paintings survived the cultural genocide of the Kumeyaay way of life. This art reflects a state of intimate, natural resourcefulness and respect, that mankind rarely achieves. Some expressions are seemingly simple and others are quite elaborate. Nearly all of them have never been previously published and most have not even been observed by professionals who specialize in this field. A good portion are no longer visible with ordinary vision or digital photography. They are rapidly disappearing, mostly from natural causes. Others may not have been seen in hundreds of years. We welcome you to walk through prehistory and ancient history with the Tipai Shaman and artists who created a remarkable culture in which they and their habitat thrived harmoniously.

The pictures command your attention.

These photographs of ancient American rock art bleed off the pages and into that place in our minds where the shamans once lived. The draw of Don Liponi’s La Rumorosa Rock Art Along the Border reaches beyond modern archeology and ethnology, which provide a mere hint at the ethos of the prehistoric artists who painted these powerful images. The Kumeyaay were Native Americans who lived on the Baja-California border from about 500 AD to contact times. Their descendants are probably the Yuman speaking Tipai. The striking red, black and white pictographs were painted in caves and on rocks along the southern California border, up the Gila River and along the Colorado River, ranging from the lower Grand Canyon to the Sea of Cortez. This tradition of ancient art is called La Rumorosa, after a site in northeastern Baja, Mexico.

The writer Edward Abbey once said the rock art of the Southwest constituted a classic art tradition, which would someday be recognized as important as the Paleolithic wonders of Lascaux and Chauvet Cave in Europe. I believe this book presents a compelling argument for Abbey’s viewpoint. Here we see paintings of animals and sun bursts, circles and dots, human figures that morph into birds who fly to the other world. Liponi records painting never observed before—because the images were very faded by age or vandalized—rock art captured by a photographic method that amplifies small pigment traces. No one knows for certain who painted the pictures or carved the images, nor can any modern human tell us exactly what the rock art is portraying, though interviews with Native Tipai point to the realm of the spiritual—a shamanistic tradition.

Don Liponi agrees with that indigenous assessment; he recognizes that the value of preserving of archaeological sites and saving wilderness draws from the same well. The most intriguing and complex artistic motifs suggest the crossing of human boundaries to meld with wild nature—that wilderness which has always been our home. 

Douglas Peacock, author of In the Shadow of the Sabertooth, Grizzly Years, Walking it Off, The Best of Edward Abbey,
In The Presence of Buffalo, etc.

Happy birthday today to Don Liponi! ...

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“There's less than 200 copies left of Don's excellent book, “La Rumorosa”, so you better get your copy today!”

—Walt Whitman

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From "Vestiges"

Monthly Newsletter of URARA, the Utah Rock Art Research Association

June 2018; Vol 38; Number 06

Book Review, La Rumarosa Rock Art
Richard Jenkinson

La Rumorosa Rock Art Along the Border: Survey of Kumeyaay and Related Artwork in Southern California, Colorado River Corridor, Western Arizona and Baja California

Photography by Don Liponi and Daren Sefcik
Contributions by: Aha Makav Cultural Society, Fort Mojave Indian Tribe; Cheeyow and He-Emah, Tipai Native Americans, Campo Kumeyaay Nation; Lynn H. Gamble; Ken Hedges; Michael Wilken-Robertson; Polly Schaafsma; M. Steven Shackley with Steven Lucas-Pfingst, Kwaaymii-Kumeyaay Native American; Ben H. Swadley; and the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians

Desert Trails Publishing
306 pages

A helluva lot of color photos
The book focuses on rock art and Native American culture along the California-Mexico border. This area has received little previous attention in rock art literature. The rock art is not as spectacular as what we often see in Utah or in other parts of California, but what is special here is the comprehensive treatment of the material. We get the perspectives of history, archaeology, ethnology, and interviews and essays by Native Americans of the region. There is commentary by rock art experts, including perceptive essays by Ken Hedges and Polly Schaafsma. The book is lavishly illustrated with color photography. There are six galleries of photos of rock art that run fifteen to twenty pages each. Most of the rock art photos are DStretched because the artwork is often badly faded. The format and comprehensive approach to the material provide a template that can be used to examine the rock art of other areas. Very highly recommended!

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