Woody, Alanah: Nevada rock art crusader 7-07

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Alanah Woody, who helped lead efforts to protect Native American petroglyphs as the executive director of the Nevada Rock Art Foundation, died July 19. She was 51.

Woody taught anthropology and archaeology at the University of Nevada, Reno and managed the anthropology collections at the Nevada State Museum in Carson City. She died from heart failure.

In May, she received a Nevada Historic Preservation Award for her work in preserving the state's ancient heritage. She had served as a witness in the past for the U.S. Attorney's Office prosecuting those who stole or damaged carvings and drawings on rocks left by Indians thousands of years ago.

“She brought energy, commitment and an optimistic outlook to everything she did,” said Tyrus W. Cobb, who has served on boards with Woody. “Alanah was enthusiastic about her work, and that dedication infected all of us who served with her on the Foundation Board and Advisory Council. She will be greatly missed.”

An article in the Smithsonian Institute magazine in 2005 credited Woody with mobilizing a “small army of volunteers to educate the public, monitor sites and painstakingly record the state's vast collection of rock art, boulder by boulder.”

“She doesn't wear a fedora or crack a bullwhip, but her fans will tell you that the 5-foot-3 archaeologist is to the rock art of Nevada what Indiana Jones is to the Holy Grail,” the article said.

Woody told the magazine she considered herself a “rock art evangelist.”

“Give me a soapbox and I'll tell the world. Better yet, give me people who think rock art is nothing more than a bunch of old graffiti on a boulder or cave wall,” she said.

“Let me take them out into the desert to see 10,000-year-old petroglyphs, and I guarantee they'll begin to feel a connection with the people who lived here long before we came along.”