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  • The Third Person

    The third person and third space are at once between and antecedent to the oppositional differentiation of subject and object or self and other, effecting an opening to the universe in all its turbulent generativity.  Stuart McLean [1]

    This petroglyph is located in the borderlands region of what is now California and Oregon. This high country bridges the north-south trending expanse Surprise Valley basin east of the Warner range and the Warner Lakes Basin between the massive uplift blocks and escarpments of Abert Rim, Lynch’s Rim, Greaser Rim, and Hart Mountain.  It is the traditional lands of the Northern Paiute who arrived in the area several hundred years ago as part of northward migration and who occupied the country when euro-americans arrived and, within a few decades, pushed the indigenous peoples onto reservations.

    Most of the rock art in this region was produced by early peoples over many millennia. This contributes to the ambiguity of this figure I call Spirit-Being-Pronghorn. A hybrid person, it seems to combine Lizard, Human, and Pronghorn [2].  We can look at it, wonder about its place in this country, and we look with it, east across the flat, open, changing land of the Pronghorn, the Coyote, and now mostly the Cattle.  This petroglyph then is not passive; this Being, as McLean suggests, through its active agency both creates and reproduces the universe.  This is necessary because all life is cyclic, abundance fleeting, death recurring.  Hence Spirit-Being-Pronghorn could as easily be Pronghorn-Being-Human, or Lizard-Spirit-Being.
    [1] Stuart McLean, ‘IT’ in Posthuman Glossary (2018) edited by Rosi Braidotti and Maria Hlavajova.
    [2] In most ethnographic reports, collected tales, and many rock art studies Antilocapra americana is referred to as Antelope.  Biologists and some Archaeologists usually use Pronghorn. It is known as Pronghorn antelope and American antelope among other names.

  • Where are the Pronghorn?

    Pia wantsipe toowenene’ iten
    Pia wantsipe toowenene’ iten
    Pennan tapai tatawento toowenene’ ite

    The big antelope buck-pe slowly grazing while standing
    The big antelope buck-pe slowly grazing while standing
    Sun beams flashing, hitting him while he stands and grazes. 

    "Antelope Song," a Western Shoshone round dance song [1]

    Pronghorns need to drink water every day.  During summer it is often several times a day.  Hunters know this. When hunting season opens in SE Oregon in August, many hunters will set up near waterholes.  And, camouflaged, wait behind rock blinds, brush, or on a low rim - if close enough to the water or a passage to water.  Scopes and high-powered rifles allow flexibility on what “close” means. About 2500 pronghorn antelope hunting tags are distributed by lottery by ODFW each year.  This is about 10% of Oregon’s estimated pronghorn population of 25,000. [2] 

    Indigenous peoples hunted and killed pronghorn for at least 10,000 years as testified by the remains in some archaeological excavations.  “Procuring” has been documented from the early Holocene in SE Oregon. [3]  Evidence in the Northern Great Basin shows communal hunts, usually with traps at drive sites with barriers/fences of stone, juniper, or brush, was an important method of capture and killing. [4} 

    Petroglyphs resembling pronghorn antelope are very rare in the rock art of SE Oregon, given the hundreds of rock art sites and the tens of thousand of images.  Bighorn sheep motifs are more recognizable and more frequent, but they are not common as they are in some other parts the Great Basin and in the Southwest. 

    Selected Pronghorn Petroglyphs in Lake County, Oregon 

    [1]  Transcribed and translated by Beverly Crum, ca. 1975. In Steven J. Crum, 1999. “Julian Steward’s Vision of the Great Basin: A Critique and Response." In Julian Steward and the Great Basin: The Making of an Anthropologist.  

    [2] Currently about 2000 pronghorn summer on the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge in Lake County. About 60 bow and rifle hunting tags issued annually for the Refuge.

    2015 is the centenary of a low point for pronghorn.  In 1915 in the western U.S. about 13,000 remained of the estimated 35 million roaming a century earlier.  Some experts were resigned to the species’ eventual extinction due to killing, grazing, and partitioning of open lands.

    [3] Two examples of studies including references to pronghorn remains in early Holocene archaeological contexts:
    - A Flaked Stone Crescent from a Stratified, Radiocarbon-Dated Site in the Northern Great Basin. Geoffrey M. Smith, et al. North American Archaeologist July 2014 vol. 35 no. 3 257-276.
    - Early and Middle Holocene Archaeology of the Northern Great Basin. 2004. Edited by D. L. Jenkins, T. J. Connolly, and C. M. Aikens, University of Oregon Anthropological Papers 62.

    [4] About 120 hunting features and kill locales are now documented in Nevada and Eastern California. See studies and reviews of archaeological research and ethnography in the Great Basin by Brooke S. Arkush, Brian Hockett, and Patrick M. Lubinski.