Big Indian Rock Petroglyphs

Overview | Little Indian Rock | Big Indian Rock

Big Indian Rock

Big Indian Rock and Little Indian Rock represent one of the two largest remaining concentrations of rock art in the northeast United States. Curiously, the considerably larger Big Indian Rock at a whopping 40’x60′ has far fewer carvings than Little Indian Rock. Nevertheless, here are three LiDAR scans of the rock highlighting three clusters of glyphs.

The following LiDAR scan includes figures 5-10 detailed in full further down.

The following LiDAR scan includes figures 12-16 detailed in full further down.

The following LiDAR scan includes figures 18-25 detailed in full further down.

Comparative Interpretations

Comparative interpretations of the symbols found at Big Indian Rock according to Cadzow. The figures upon this rock are likely contemporaneous with those upon Little Indian Rock. Many of the symbols have been destroyed by vandals. Others have eroded to such an extent that it was impossible to trace the complete figure. I have reorganized and updated some of the information from various sources and tried to include modern photographs when possible. I will continue to update the document as new information is found.

Updated image of Donald Cadzow’s Big Indian Rock diagram highlighting modern water levels.

Click here for a printer-friendly version of the Big Indian Rock petroglyphs descriptions. Indeterminate

1. Indeterminate


2. Indeterminate


3. Axe or tomahawk

Axe or tomahawk. Likely a newer carving.

4. Indeterminate


5. Medicine Man

Medicine Man
Perhaps a Wendigo?

According to legend, the wendigo was once a lost hunter. During a brutally cold winter, the man’s intense hunger drove him to cannibalism. After feasting on another man’s flesh, he transformed into a crazed man-beast, roaming the forest in search of more people to eat.

It is said that the wendigo is always hungry and never satisfied with his cannibalistic urges. Obsessed with hunting for new victims, he is forever hungry until he’s eating another person.

Details vary depending on who you ask. Some people who have encountered the beast say it’s a relative of Bigfoot. Others compare the wendigo to a werewolf, sometimes with deer antlers. Regardless, everyone agrees that his body is gaunt to the point of emaciation, with its skin pulled tightly over its bones.

The Algonquian also blame many unsolved disappearances of people on wendigo attacks. Click here to read more about the Wendigo.

6. Thunderbird

The Thunderbird is a widespread figure in Native American mythology. Described as a supernatural being, the enormous bird symbolized power and strength that protected humans from evil spirits. It was called the Thunderbird because the flapping of its mighty wings sounded like thunder, and lightning would shoot out of its eyes. The Thunderbirds brought rain and storms, which could be good or bad. Good when the rain was needed or bad when the rain came with strong destructive winds, floods, and fires caused by lightning.

They were said to have bright and colorful feathers, with sharp teeth and claws. They were said to live in the clouds high above the tallest mountains.

In Algonquian mythology, the Thunderbird controls the upper world while the underworld is controlled by the underwater panther or Great Horned Serpent, from which the Thunderbird protects humans by throwing lightning at it. According to their legends, the Thunderbirds were ancestors of the human race and helped to create the universe.

7. Woman giving birth.

Woman giving birth. Possibly connected with the two medicine men nearby.
Person in a canoe?

8. Indeterminate


9. Four-legged animal

Four-legged animal.

10. Indeterminate


11. Firepit

The spot marked “fire pit” on the drawing showed that many fires had been made there. Whether they were ceremonial fires of the Native Americans or built by shad fishermen is questionable.

12. Four-legged animal

Four-legged animal.

13. Human footprint

Human footprint with a size 11 foot next to it for scale.

14. Four-legged animal

Four-legged animal.

15. Fox

Four-legged animal.
Perhaps a fox.

16. Indeterminate


17. Indeterminate


18. Long-legged, long-tailed animal

Long-legged, long-tailed animal.

19. Indeterminate


20. Four-legged, long-tailed animal

Four-legged, long-tailed animal.

21. Indeterminate

Indeterminate animal?

22. Indeterminate


23. Indeterminate


24. Otter

Four-legged animal, perhaps an otter.

25. Indeterminate


Click here for a printer-friendly version of the Big Indian Rock petroglyphs descriptions.

Big Indian Rock Diagram

Overview | Little Indian Rock | Big Indian Rock

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