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  • Lone-Lizard sees Ancient-History

    “Lane County has an abundance of prehistoric artifacts. This example of pictographs have defied the elements for centuries.  Writings can be see along Highway 395 near Lake Abert.  County contains almost a fourth of the state’s Indian writings.”  
    — Caption of a featured photograph of a petroglyph boulder in the Sunday Oregonian, 1959 [1]

    “Indian Pictographs in Lake County. Such Indian picture writings are usually not very old, because the desert wind and sand tend to obliterate them in about two hundred years as a rule.”  
    — Caption of a photograph of a petroglyph boulder published as the full-page frontispiece of The Oregon Desert, 1964 [2]  (Adapted image above)

    “The boulder was blasted by a maintenance crew about 1967, and the fragments graded into the ditch on the west side of the highway.”
    - Noted by Malcolm and Louise Loring from a 1967 visit, 1982 [3]

    The same petroglyph boulder is imaged and imagined in all three. The Oregonian and Oregon Desert photographs are almost identical.

    Lone-Lizard sees it coming: Ancient-History in not ancient. Lone-Lizard sees it going: Ancient-History is not history as a rule.  Ancient-History sees Lone-Lizard is not a lizard in dreamtime highway fragments.  [4]

    Above, an adapted image of Lorings's line drawing of the boulder’s face prior to 1967. They noted: "On one large lizard petroglyph the rock surface in the body was polished and painted with red pigment." 

    NOTES
    [1] "Pictographs, Petroglyphs Premium Lake County Attractions,” Sunday Oregonian, August 23, 1959, by Paul Laartz, The highlight of this feature story was a photograph of the boulder with petroglyphs on the southeast shore of Lake Abert. The story was part of series in partnership with the Oregon State Motor Assn to promote  tourism during Oregon’s centennial year.  
    Eerily, the 1959 article also includes another photograph captioned: “Lakeview, well known as a center of lumbering, cattle raising, has recently added this uranium reduction mill to its list of contributors to a thriving Lake County economy.”  The Lakeview Uranium Mill operated 1958-1961.  A 2017 fact sheet “provides information about the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act of 1978. Title I processing site and disposal site near Lakeview, Oregon. This site is managed by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Legacy Management.”   https://www.lm.doe.gov/Lakeview/Disposal/Sites.aspx

    [2] The Oregon Desert, 1964, by E R Jackman and Reub A. Long, Caxton Press (Idaho).  Chapter 11, titled  “Indians in the Desert,” offers folksy observation, opinion and hearsay, vague (mis)information, and condescending pronouncements typical of late 19th- and early 20th-century attitudes. This enduringly popular volume has been continuously in-print since 1964; distributed by University of Nebraska Press. The full-page frontispiece photograph is the petroglyph boulder destroyed in 1967.

    [3] Malcolm and Louise Loring in 1967 visited the Lake Abert shore location of petroglyph boulder highlighted in the two photographs. In the description for  Site 140 the Lorings reference the 1959 Oregonian story.  Loring, J. Malcolm, and Louise Loring. Pictographs & Petroglyphs of the Oregon Country, Parts I & II. 1996. This one-volume corrected edition of the original 1982 two-volume publication is available online.

    [4] Dreamtime Highway is not a completely original phrase. I've admired Dreamtime Superhighway (2008), a superb book by Jo McDonald about the rock art of New South Wales, Australia, which "proposes that the rock art in the Sydney region functioned as a prehistoric information superhighway.” Something to ponder as we look to see.

    Lake Abert Southeast shore. (Photo Douglas Beauchamp, 2016)

  • The Wallula Stone Abides

    Jorge Otero-Paulos recently noted, “preservation has looked at art to expand the aesthetics of memory, cultural trauma, historicity, and temporality.” [1]

    It is impossible to show the entire two facets of this boulder as it sits within the closely-installed, tall iron fence's lurking surround. The Wallula Stone is somewhat irregular, so there is no single perspective that can capture it. A magnificent massive fragment of basalt column tumbled from the cliffs of Wallula Gap, or perhaps arriving from upriver, as a local erratic, during the ice age. Then carved.  And, now, far from its mother river. 

    The reflective light of the morning sun illuminates the hard basalt’s deeply patinaed surface with a soft sheen, the ancient polish of the stone itself, natural or human made, from wind, water, perhaps rubbing hands.

    As now placed, its sheer mass is visually constrained, gridded by the fence and memorial enclosure. However, it is protected and honored.  It's surprising the stone or its carvings show little noticeable modern disfigurement. Well, except for the anchored-in bronze plaque, which the Tribes left in place [2]. Odd, had not the railroad fellows hoisted it on a flatcar in 1910 (the tracks were happily nearby), it may have been submerged in the mid-1950s under a hundred feet of water, inundated by the McNary Dam’s Lake Wallula!  

    [1] Jorge Otero-Paulos defines preserved artworks as “transitional cultural objects … for looking back at our immediate future from the point of the view of a distant future … a temporal expression … as the future anterior.”   (“Remembrance if Things to Come, ”ArtForum, April 2014:115-116.)

    [2] A ten-ton monolith, originally located on the Columbia River near Wallula Gap on the Oregon border, the Wallula Stone was displayed in outdoor courtyard of Portland City Hall from 1910 until 1996. The basalt petroglyph boulder became the centerpiece of the newly constructed Nix-Ya-Wii Warriors Memorial of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, in Mission, Oregon, on July 26, 1996.

  • A Glacial Erratic with markings. A Map Rock? A Sky Stone?

    In the spring of 1999 respected Salish elder Dobie Tom visited a boulder with markings on a hillside meadow near Bonney Lake, Washington, about 20 miles southeast of Tacoma.  Tom identified the markings on top of the massive glacial erratic, rediscovered during planning for a nearby housing development, as a map of the Puyallup Valley.  The bowl-like depression in the center of the top represented the original Lake Tapps to the northeast, he said. 

    The following year the property owner contracted two researchers from the community college. Using computer models Gerald Hedlund and Dennis Regan decided the twenty human made depressions (cupules? a mortar?) on the stone’s flat surface indicated the stone, with use sticks and cords, could have been an observatory for determining seasonal changes and predicting sun, moon, and star alignments and possibly as sight lines to mountains, including Mount Rainier.  They named it Skystone.

    E.C. Krupp, astronomer, director of the Griffith Observatory, and a specialist in the field of archaeoastronomy, said native peoples probably already knew when the solstices occurred by observing the heavens. "The site sounds to me like it's for rituals or an educational site," and added more proof is needed to accept Skystone as an old observatory. 

    The Puyallup Tribal Council called the find "an exciting rediscovery…considering the rock carving is located in the Tribe’s traditional usual and accustomed area" and called for a plan to protect "this fascinating cultural feature."

    Notably this petroglyph boulder is not identified in rock art surveys that include Western Washington (Lundy 1974, Hill and Hill1974, McClure 1978, Wellman 1979, Leen 1981).  I compiled the above summary through local newspaper stories (1999-2009) and fragments of references on city and tribal websites. So, ambiguity lingers beyond what can be recorded in this modest blog posting.  Isn’t that how rock art works?

    Photos (November 2013) and details:  Bonney Lake Skystone Petroglyph