Yesterday we got to go with some of the rangers to Columbia Hills State Park, about 50 miles from here, just past The Dalles on the Washington side of the river. It was cultural resource training for the rangers, and we went along for some education and rock art viewing.
We’ve been to a couple different petroglyph sites in Texas and New Mexico, and taken guided tours, but this was the best so far. The ranger who guided us was a very interesting speaker, and he gave us a lot of insight into the thought processes of the Native Americans and told us some of their legends regarding the petroglyphs and pictographs.
There are 2 areas of rock art, the first of which is a paved trail with chunks of rock displayed behind a wooden fence. These were cut out of “Petroglyph Canyon”, a large area of petroglyphs that was flooded when The Dalles dam was built. The canyon is now underwater near the butte in the far left of this photo.
Here are some of the petroglyphs on display.
At the end of the trail is a famous one called “She Who Watches”.
Here is the legend similar to the story the ranger told us. If you google “She Who Watches”, you can read other legends that are a bit different from this one.
Legend of Tsagaglalal
(pronounced �tsa-ga-gla-lal� and meaning �She-Who-Watches�)
A women had a house where the village of Nixluidix was later built. She was chief of all who lived in the region. That was a long time before Coyote came up the river and changed things and people were not yet real people.
After a time, Coyote, in his travels, came to this place and asked the inhabitants if they were 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 & 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 long be chiefs." Then he changed her into a rock with the command, "You shall stay here & 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.
-Stone Age on the Columbia River by Emory Strong 1959