Current topics in archaeology, cultural heritage & historic preservation

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Chinook Nation Progresses as Leaders Testify in Washington D.C.

July 15, 2009 may be recorded as one of the most important days in Chinook Indian Nation history.

The day that Chinook leaders testified before the House Committee on Natural Resources in Washington D.C. in a continuing effort to regain federal recognition. The Natural Resources Committee oversees Native American issues and will be influential in consideration of HR 3084, the Chinook Nation Restoration Act.

The 2,700 member tribe was represented by Council Chairman Ray Gardner (pictured here courtesy The Chinook Observer), Council Member and Hereditary Chief Phil Hawks and Council Member Sam Robinson. U.S. Representative Brian Baird (WA) also spoke in favor of the Chinook Nation.

The next step in the recognition process will occur about two weeks after the hearing when Rep. Baird plans to ask the committee to prepare the bill for consideration by the whole House of Representatives. A vote is said to be possible later this summer.

An excellent article on the hearings can be viewed at The Chinook Observer newspaper website.

Your support will be very influential to the success of the process. Please contact your senators and representatives and express support for HR 3084, The Chinook Nation Restoration Act. You can easily find and email your elected officials at Contacting Congress.

Video of Chairman Gardner testifying (click here)

Video of Representative Baird Speaking to Committee (click here)


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Petroglyph Team Seeks Images at Columbia Hills State Park

Members of the Washougal Petroglyph Team, lead by artist Rex Ziak (at left in photo), headed to Columbia Hills State Park (formerly Horsethief Lake State Park) on Friday, July 17 to gain experience with rock art and to begin gathering examples of images that could be useful in their project (see previous post for project details, click on any photo to get an enlarged version).

Washougal has broken ground on the new pedestrian tunnel that will re-connect the city to its waterfront. Its not much to look at yet...

...but Rex's concept of including Columbia Plateau rock art at the tunnel's entrance should make it a real landmark.

About 7:45 am the team drove east toward Columbia Hills. By 9:00 it was already warm, headed for hot, and there was a high overcast. Not the best conditions for viewing rock art as we found out when we made a short stop in Stevenson to see the large, intensely carved boulder that was moved there from Skamania Landing years ago.

The light was flat and the rock art was almost invisible. For many of the students this was their first exposure to "real" rock art and it was a tough one...but after a few clues and a lot of squinting everyone began to see the symbols and cupules carved into the boulder (the photo at right was taken on a different, rainy day when the rock art was offering itself for easy viewing).

An hour or so later we arrived at Columbia Hills, checked in with the friendly rangers and headed for the parking lot where our tour would begin. We joined our guide, Mike, a park aide (below in green shirt with French foreign legion hat) and several other "civilians" (meaning people who weren't Petroglyph Team members).
Mike gave us an excellent and inspired introduction. We all appreciated both his passion and knowledge about the rock art of the area.

As the sun beat down and the temperature rose above 90 we trekked into the rimrock and down the trail to get up-close and personal with some of the most incredible rock art in North America.

We quickly started to see pictographs and petroglyphs on the basalt cliffs to our North. Some were more visible than others...but then that's the way it always is with rock art.

Mike stopped often and explained to everyone what they were seeing. All of us were riveted by the images and by the information that was shared about the ancient cultures and traditions that have been part of our region for so many thousands of years.

Here are a few of the many, many rock art images we were priviledged to see...

So our guide, Mike, lead us across the landscape, pointing out rock art, sharing knowledge, gently herding us along. After about an hour or so we walked up a hill, around a corner and...BANG!

...Tsagaglalal...She Who Watches...stunning...bigger than life...staring across history!

So what better place to end the tour? The team experienced rock art first-hand, examined and photographed many candidate images for the tunnel project, gained a wealth of knowledge and an increased appreciation and respect for another culture.

All in all, not a bad day's work!

Thanks to Nabiel Shawa, Rex Ziak, and everyone who made the trip possible.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Columbia Plateau Rock Art to be Featured in New Pedestrian Tunnel

I'm excited! The city of Washougal, WA has started work on a new pedestrian underpass that will re-link the core of the city to its historic waterfront. PLUS they plan to honor the native people and history of the Northwest by including representations of Columbia Plateau Indian rock art in the tunnel...and I may get to be involved in a small way.

The City has gathered the required funding ($2.6 million), chosen the design and actually broken ground on the 110-foot-long tunnel. They've hooked up with nationally recognized speaker/artist/historian Rex Ziak and the Washougal School District, putting together a team of students who will research the rock art this summer. Completion of the tunnel is planned for December 2009. You can read interesting details at The Columbian (

According to the Washougal School District ( "A few Washougal High School students are gearing up for an archaeological project that will have a lasting impact on the Washougal community.

Selected by Washougal city manager, Nabiel Shawa, the team of students will spend the summer conducting research on petroglyphs indigenous to the Columbia River Gorge under the direction of noted historian and artist Rex Ziak

By summer's end, a set of petroglyphs will
be designated for an artwork display inside the city's new pedestrian tunnel being constructed under Highway 14.

Students selected for the work team are Emily Carroll, Kirstin Peterson, Patrick McCarthy, Sarah Walker, Chloe Kilgore, Brian Price, Paige Wade, Chris Norton, and Heather Mattole."

In a week or so the students plan a field trip to Columbia Hills State Park where they will see a wonderful selection of petroglyphs and pictographs, some of the most interesting on the Plateau. I've been invited to accompany them as they explore the ancient rock art in the park.

I'm hoping to document progress on the underpass, especially the rock art portion, and report on it here.

Stay tuned...

(The rock art in this post is all located on the Columbia Plateau).

Friday, July 3, 2009

Independence Day With Lewis & Clark

Musing about Independence Day and how lucky Americans are to live in a free country (I mean really, we could be Hondurans or offense if you are) I started to wonder what Lewis and Clark did on July 4th as they trekked through the wilderness toward the Pacific and then back again.

Google being what it is, it didn't take me long to find a copy of their journals online at a fascinating (if you're into this stuff like I am) website ( which gives you a day by day, year by year view of the journal text.

So without further ado, here's what Lewis and Clark were doing on July 4, 1804, 1805, and 1806...

July 4, 1804: By early July, the expedition had reached the northeastern corner of the present-day state of Kansas.

Clark: "ussered in the day by a discharge of one shot form our Bow piece, proceeded on, .Came to on the LS to refresh ourselves & Jos Fields got bit by a snake, which was quickly doctered with Bark by Cap Lewis . pass a creek as this Creek has no name and this day is the 4th of July, we name this Independance Creek . and saluted the departing day with another gun, an extra Gill of whiskey"

July 4, 1805: Portaging around the great falls of the Missouri

Lewis: "we gave the men a drink of Sperits, it being the last of our stock, and some of them appeared a little sensible of it’s effects the fiddle was plyed and they danced very merrily. we had a very comfortable dinner, of bacon beans, suit dumplings & buffaloe beaf in short we had no just cause to covet the sumptuous feasts of our countrymen on this day . - one Elk and a beaver were all that was killed by the hunters today; the buffaloe seem to have withdrawn themselves from this neighbourhood; tho the men inform us that they are still abundant about the falls-"

July 4, 1806: On July 3, 1806, the Corps of Discovery left Travelers' Rest. Captain Lewis and nine men went to pursue a direct route to the Missouri, then explore Maria's river. Captain Clark and the rest of the party went a new route to the Jefferson River, then descended to the Three Forks and then proceeded with a detachment party to explore the Yellowstone, while Sergeant Ordway, with nine men, descended the Missouri.

Lewis: "these affectionate people our guides betrayed every emmotion of unfeigned at seperating from us."

Clark: "This day being the decleration of Indeendence of the United States and a Day commonly selebrated by my country I had every disposition of selebrate this day and therefore halted early and partook of a Sumptious Dinner of a fat Saddle of Vension and Mush of Cows (roots) after Dinner we proceeded on."

If you want to know more about that cool Corps of Discovery banner above, check out this website:

...and on this date in other years:

1776 The Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence.

1802 The U.S. Military Academy opened at West Point, N.Y.

1804 Author Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in Salem, Mass.

1826 Death claimed the second and third presidents of the United States: John Adams died at age 90 in Braintree, Mass., while Thomas Jefferson died at 83 at Monticello, his home near Charlottesville, Va.

1826 Songwriter Stephen Foster was born in present-day Pittsburgh.

1831 James Monroe, the fifth president of the United States, died at age 73 in New York City.

1845 American writer Henry David Thoreau began a two-year experiment in simple living at Walden Pond near Concord, Mass.

1872 Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president of the United States, was born in Plymouth, Vt.

1939 Baseball player Lou Gehrig, afflicted with a fatal illness, bid a tearful farewell at Yankee Stadium in New York, telling fans, "Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth."

1946 The Philippines became independent.

1958 Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II, was appointed auxiliary bishop of Krakow, Poland, by Pope Pius XII.

1959 A 49th star was added to the American flag to represent the new state of Alaska.

1960 The number of stars on the American flag was increased to 50 to honor the new state of Hawaii.

1966 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Freedom of Information Act into law.

1976 Israeli commandos raided Entebbe airport in Uganda, rescuing almost all of the passengers and crew of an Air France jetliner seized by pro-Palestinian hijackers.

1987 Klaus Barbie, the former Gestapo chief known as the "Butcher of Lyon," was convicted by a French court of crimes against humanity and sentenced to life in prison.

2004 A 20-ton slab of granite, inscribed to honor "the enduring spirit of freedom," was laid at the World Trade Center site as the cornerstone of the Freedom Tower.

See it all at the NY Times website: