About

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.

Deep into a cave of the McCain Wilderness east of San Diego with help from Tom and Daren, I was so fortunate to catch the morning sun bouncing around onto this pictograph. Prayer sticks abound and around on the floor. The colors are DS enhanced without which the pictograph is much more faded. While at the cave, it took me about an hour to find the painting while at the cave. We are busy at work on what will be our second and final book on La Rumorosa rock art. Above the Sunburst and Geometric figure are some other less defined elements that are more apparent in other photographs.
Don Liponi
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Because of the work involved in promoting our first book, it has been at least a year since I actually did any field work which is the passion that drew me into doing the book in the first place. In terms of promoting and presenting, it has been so great to meet others who support the ideas behind our work. Still, nothing can duplicate the serenity and stillness of that moment of discovery of a new pictograph. Cramped into a dusty and dark rock shelter, squinting with a flashlight at a wall that was painted on hundreds of years ago and seeing a message across time that the spiritual essence of the Shaman lives on. In the first photograph, an anthropomorph with its companion figure is a common portraiture of this style and sets above the track of the freeway - a modern intrusion. What would the Shaman think or could he even imagine such a thing?

Back from the freeway and in an area heavily used for illegal traffic today sets a large granitic boulder cracked open by some cataclysmic event in prehistoric times, the artist rendered this geometric mystery of some sort. Today, this pictograph is completely invisible and can only be seen with DStretch. The space in the crack is so short that even with a wide angle lens, it has to be shot obliquely which decreases the capabilities of DS. While I cannot even imagine what its meaning is, the excitement of bringing back this painting from oblivion seems so important. I hope one day that someone will add to our knowledge about what it could mean.

I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to walk in the desert with these "old friends" who understood the land and its harmonies to their people far better than we do.

Our group has been busy at work during the promotion making many new discoveries. We have well over 100 sites we have not published in Volume #1 that will go into Volume #2. All purchases of Volume #1 help us to be able to create the second and final volume of La Rumorosa Rock Art. Help us by buying Volume #1 which has sold over 600 copies!
Don Liponi ...

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Another very heartwarming "book tour" trip to Palm Desert, Joshua Tree and Camp Verde, near Sedona, AZ. There are so many dedicated people in every community that are doing parallel projects - trying to record and digitally save the rock art of their region. While there are some advocates out there making use of D Stretch, the tool is still largely unknown, which means we are missing lots of art that will probably disappear into oblivion before it is ever recorded. Perhaps, the people who are in charge of D Stretch would be better off educating the public on how to use this tool to record what is left rather than worry about whether or not fingers are present? I am sure that won't happen and your lack of interest in teaching the public will mean the loss of countless panels that might be recorded if your eye were on the prize. Despite so little D Stretch documentation, many people are doing their best to struggle along with a program hardly anyone understands to its potential. Archaeology is its own worst enemy. In many cases, it is the avocationalists who are taking the higher road to save while the professionals bicker over minutiae.

In any case, the Native Americans are guardedly hopeful that we can continue to record in the event that circumstances will improve in the future.

Book sales were good on this trip and I think I actually paid my way! I believe we are in the area of 600 copies sold which is just amazing. I want to thank you all. More to follow with specific details. More book dates coming up!
Don Liponi ...

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