Friday, May 24, 2013

Tsagaglalal and Temani Pesh-wa

Tsagaglalal and Temani Pesh-wa
 "She Who Watches" and "Written on Rock"
Gorge petroglyphs moved to place of honor
(Story excerpt from the Sunday, March 28, 2004 Oregonian Newspaper article by TERRY RICHARD)
Photo's by me...Steven Michael
Nearly a half-century ago, rising waters behind The Dalles Dam forever changed a wild stretch of the Columbia River, submerging salmon-rich Celilo Falls, the Long Narrows below it and hundreds of ancient sacred petroglyphs.
 The surrounding lands long had been a gathering place for people from the Warm Springs, Yakama, Umatilla, Nez Perce and other tribes. Some lived there permanently, while thousands more visited seasonally to harvest spawning salmon, to practice their religion and to join the annual opportunity to trade and socialize.
The petroglyphs -- drawings that were chipped or ground into rock to depict tribal legends, hunting scenes and mysticism -- are evidence of these gatherings. One narrow slot just above the river had so many thousands of drawings that it was named Petroglyph Canyon.
But as the reservoir rose behind the new dam, most of these rocks were covered by water.  A few were pried away and stored at the dam, perched against a wall of the fish ladder beneath roosting birds -- not a fitting home for what tribal elders consider sacred icons that provide a cultural connection between modern people and their ancestors.
 A plan to give them a more fitting, permanent home took shape in 1996, and eight years later 43 petroglyph-covered rocks have been moved to Washington's Columbia Hills State Park.

Formerly called Horsethief Lake, the state park is indisputably the best place to see native petroglyphs in the Northwest. The park is also home to Tsagaglalal, "She Who Watches," one of the most famous rock images in North America.
Because of past vandalism, viewing of the Tsagaglalal image is limited to an escorted tour twice a week by the Washington State Park service.
 "Jody Heath, was my guide.  It was very obvious that Jody loved sharing her heritage with others, and she also respected the land in a spiritual manner."
 The famous Tsagaglalal, "She Who Watches", Native American rock art is a combination of two styles, a petroglyph (carved into the rock) and pictograph (art drawn or painted onto rock).  There is a legend about the art's origin that is hauntingly prophetic of the impact humans have made on the earth.
"There are several versions of the legend, but the one that was told on the tour was by the Wishram people:"
"...After a time Coyote in his travels came to this place and asked the inhabitants if they were living well or ill. They sent him to their chief who lived up on the rocks, where she could look down on the village and know what was going on.
Coyote climbed up to the house on the rocks and asked "What kind of living do you give these people? Do you treat them well or are you one of those evil women?" "I am teaching them to live well and build good houses," she said. 
"Soon the world will change," said Coyote, "and women will no longer be chiefs." Then he changed her into a rock with the command, "You shall stay here and watch over the people who live here."
All the people know that Tsagaglalal sees all things, for whenever they are looking at her those large eyes are watching them.
A petroglyph trail named Temani Pesh-wa, (Written on Rock), displays petroglyphs on their original slabs of rock and leaned up against a natural rock formation. Vegetation is slowly growing around the petroglyphs, giving the man-made display an increasingly natural atmosphere.
Chipped into 5-foot-long rocks, the petroglyphs are easily visible. They depict deer, mountain sheep and the humans who hunt them. They show thunderbirds, owls, fish and a mysterious creature with long flowing tentacles.

Facing east upriver, the rocks sit within a mile from where most were taken in Petroglyph Canyon. The canyon is covered by Lake Celilo, the impoundment behind The Dalles Dam.
When the rocks were removed from storage at The Dalles Dam, they were swathed in natural fibers and trucked in a bed of gravel for protection. None was broken during the move.
When members of the Lewis and Clark expedition passed through in 1805, they noticed a settlement of 1,500 at Big Beach in the future park. Before construction of the dam, the Columbia was placid and wide as it passed the settlement, then seemed to turn on its side as it rushed through the Long Narrows with what Clark described as a "bad whorl and suck."
The river's transition afforded a natural setting for large gatherings during late summer. The Native Americans harvested huckleberries nearby at Mount Adams, speared salmon from the Columbia and staged games on one of the rare flat spots along the river.
And, they chipped designs on the rock walls of the canyons. Some of those images finally have been given a home that closely matches the respect, awe and wonderment felt for their original site by their creators.
"Seeing and learning of the historic native ways, and culture, allowed me to appreciate the diverse regions found within the Columbia River Gorge.  The petroglyph's and pictograph's within the park are a" must see."

To get there, from Interstate 84 take Exit 88 for The Dalles Bridge. Cross north into Washington and drive three miles to State Route 14. Turn east and drive 1.5 miles to the park's entrance.


Nicole said...

very cool pics... do they know what any of the drawings mean?

Steven Michael said...

I believe they do know what the drawings mean. I didn't go into that much research to find out though.

Anonymous said...

Very nice posting! I have seen Tsagaglalal replicated many times in decorative metal works, paintings, drawings and a t-shirt I recently purchased -with the name misspelled! A web search brought me to your site. I am very excited to see the original. Thanks.