Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Tamastslikt and Tsagagalal

To conclude my mini-tour of some of Oregon's more interesting, back-of-beyond places, I thought I'd combine two that fit particularly well together-- Tamastslikt Cultural Institute and Tsagagalal. but add there were three other interesting museums we visited while in the Columbia River Gorge--  Maryhill Museum of Art Fort Dalles Museum and The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center 

Each of these places provided pieces of the story of man's migrations from the first arrivals to johnny-come-latelys. The collections of artifacts could do a blog all on their own but I feel I've taken enough space here and will only cover the first two with links to all five; so you can know about them also.

While we visited these museums, we parked our trailer at two different state parks on the Washington side of the Columbia River. Our site here was right on the Columbia River and a pure delight. We moved when we wanted to see Tsagagalal for reasons I'll mention below but that site was nice too at Columbia Hills State Park.

 Maryhill State Park
From the first one we opted to leave the trailer and drive east, up the Columbia River and past Pendleton past the site of the Wildhorse Casino to the Cultural Center. Tamastslikt was built by the Umatilla, Cayuse and Walla Walla tribes to tell their story in this lovely and well put together museum. 

The unfortunate part of it is once inside the museum, you cannot take photos. I think it was a mistake as if they had not permitted flashes or limited the photos to areas that were not involving their spiritual beliefs to keep them sacred, it would make sense; but to block them all makes it harder to share what is there. This could be one reason there weren't many people in the museum. 

It is an excellent telling of how people lived before the white man came, how horses impacted their culture, their traditions (which during the summer would involve live demonstrations). They had a long house and often there were recordings playing to tell their stories. They then got into how they were impacted by the arrival of the whites and finally who they are today (my two nieces are one-quarter Umatilla but live in the Portland near their father, grandmother and other cousins).

I particularly liked in the display how they included the warrior side of that culture which often gets glossed over. These peoples did have a warrior class as did many of the Plains Indians. It is a proud part of their heritage. It has carried on with their people serving bravely in the military.

Walking through the dioramas and artifacts takes about an hour and a half, and I think is well worth anyone's time to get a picture of what another people lived like and what they went through culturally to get to where they are today with their goals for the future.

As someone who seeks out petroglyphs, Tsagagalal, She Who Watches, had long been on my someday list. She represented a god to the peoples of the Columbia River Basin, a huge, beautiful petroglyph overlooking the Columbia. Since she is above what were some of their burial grounds, some say she related to that, possibly to illnesses or death. She never seemed that way to me as I saw her as just beautiful and feminine. Legends abound as to how she came to be here. You can find them with a Google search.

The way you see her today is call the park for a tour which is limited in size and only happens twice a week in spring, summer and early fall. We got in on one of the last for this year. We moved our trailer to stay near the site.

Besides Tsagagalal there were many other petroglyphs in this park, all just above the Columbia River. Some are easy to visit without a guide and were saved before  Petroglyph Canyon, now underwater was flooded by The Dalles dam. They line a walkway and many of them I had seen drawings of other places without knowing from where they had come.

Some think they know why the people created this or that image or what it means. I just enjoy them for the way a story was left behind for future generations. Whether it was a mystical story, a hunt, something precious they had seen, petroglyphs all around the world are always worth a visit when possible.

 To me though, who has seen a lot of petroglyphs all across the west, the queen of them all is She Who Watches and she truly does appear to watch in her serene beauty.

 She is three feet by four feet in size, both petroglyph and pictograph.


robin andrea said...

I had forgotten the rich history of eastern Oregon. The petroglyphs are so beautiful. I wish I knew all the stories of how they came to be. Lovely messages from past.

Rain Trueax said...

It is amazing all the places petroglyphs can be found and they always leave behind questions as to their meaning. At Mesa Verde, the Hopi say the petroglyphs tell the story of their culture.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

These are SOOOOO Very wonderful, Rain. Lovely pictures of such historic value!
This sure was a fantastic trip you and your dear husband took....! Sometimes we forget that right under our noses there are such great treasures! This country is filled with them---And Thank you so much for sharing all of these treasures with us!