The Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center is the 501(c)3 nonprofit museum of the Skamania County Historical Society. We are dedicated to preserving, exhibiting and interpreting the cultural and natural history of the Columbia River Gorge.
The logo for the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center is the petroglyph/ pictograph, "Tsagaglalal" or She Who Watches. Tsagaglalal is located on a cliff overlooking the Columbia River and Horse Thief State Park in Washington State. It is one of the best examples of the aboriginal art in the United States.
There are several versions of this legend, but the one told to the Museum by the Wishram people is as follows:
A woman was chief of all who lived this region. That was a long time before Coyote came up the river and changed things, and the people were not yet real people. After a time Coyote, in his travels came to this place and asked the inhabitants if they were living well or ill. They sent him to their chief who lived up in the rocks where she could look down on the village and know what was going on.
Coyote climbed up to the house on the rocks and asked, "What kind of living do you give these people? Do you treat them well or are you one of those evil women?"
"I am teaching them to live well and build good houses," she said.
When she expressed her desire to be able to do this forever, he said, "Soon the world will change and women will no longer be chiefs."
Being the trickster that he was, Coyote changed her into a rock with the command, "You shall stay here and watch over the people and the river forever."
People know that "Tsagaglalal" sees all things for whenever they are looking at her, those large eyes are watching them.
On June 14, 1987, Nelson Moses, a spokesman for the Wishram band of the Yakama Nation, dedicated "Tsagaglalal's" spirit to the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center project. The brief, but solemn ceremony was held on site in front of "Tsagaglalal." It was performed in the Indian language based on the ancient bell ritual of the Washat religion granting permission for "Her" stylized image to be use as a logo.
This legend applies to the mission of the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center, in that "She is watching over the people and the river," as we will strive to carefully "watch over" and be good stewards of the history of Skamania County and the Gorge.
Carved in stone and observing the Gorge for centuries from a basalt cliff on the Gorge's Washington State side, "Tsagaglalal" has inspired the many citizens who persitedin making their dream of the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center a reality.
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