Category: Pacific-Northwest

Tsagiglalal

“She Who Watches”

Painted on a basalt boulder on the north side of the Columbia River, Tsagiglalal, or She Who Watches, is one of the oldest known pieces of rock art in North America, possibly as old as 300 years. The face, remarkable for its ringed eyes and wide squared-off mouth, measures approximately 3-1/2 feet wide by 3 feet high. The image of Tsagiglalal has been replicated many times on costume jewelry, but the copies never match up to the impressive visage of the original. Access is limited to guided walks by the staff of Horsethief Lake State Park of Washington State, to protect it from vandalism.

According to legend, Coyote, the trickster of Native American Indian legend, wrestled the female chief of a Columbia River Gorge Indian tribe, near modern-day The Dalles, Oregon. After the wrestling match he threw her onto the cliff. She turned to stone and remained there to keep watch over her tribe and its descendants.

© 2001-2006, originally published Jul 15, 2001