Ancient Art and Culture
Our first nations have inhabited the Pacific Northwest region for thousands of years. The record of this heritage is found in archaeological sites, museums and in the present practice of traditional culture by many tribal members. One of the most fascinating records of early Native American life can be found through an observation of artifacts, ancient petroglyphs-images carved into rocks, and pictographs-images painted onto stone. Since most tribal history has been handed down orally, from generation to generation, this precious rock art-along with totems, basket and weaving patterns-represents some of the only written and visual documentation available of our ancient cultures.
Ozette Village & Hoko River Artifacts
In 1970, tidal erosion uncovered an ancient whaling village at Ozette, parts of which had been covered by a mudslide hundreds of years ago. The subsequent artifacts that were found have now classified Ozette as one the most significant archaeological discoveries ever made in North America. These artifacts are between 300-500 years old.
Location: The Ozette village is located off the Washington coast of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It is about fourteen miles south of Neah Bay on the Pacific Ocean side of the peninsula. The site is now closed and marked with a small sign. Another significant site in this region has yielded a wealth of primitive artifacts. Three thousand years ago, Native Americans on Washington's Olympic Peninsula occupied a key seasonal fishing camp on a bar of the Hoko River, close to the south shore of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Over the centuries, these ocean-oriented peoples discarded cordage, basketry, bentwood fishhooks, woodworking tools, faunal and floral remains, and other cultural materials into a bend of the Hoko River.
Where you can view the artifacts: In 1979, the Makah Cultural and Research Center opened to the public in order to share the great finds from the Ozette Village and Hoko River sites. This nationally recognized museum features full scale replicas of cedar long houses as well as whaling, sealing and fishing canoes. On display are about one percent of the 55,000 artifacts recovered from Ozette. Free Guided Tours, Wednesday through Sunday.
For more information call 360-645-2711.
Petroglyphs at Wedding Rock - Lake Ozette
Approximately three hundred years ago the Ozette people carved petroglyphs into Wedding Rock with bone, antler, and metal. There are 44 ancient petroglyphs at the site.
Location: Take one of two trails to the beach, which is a three-mile hike around Lake Ozette. Much of the trail is a slippery boardwalk. You can walk along the beach and check out the tide pool life on your way to Wedding Rocks headland. Just make sure to leave the tide pool life and the rock art as you found it. Please help to protect the rock art by using only natural light and not your flash when taking pictures!
Horsethief Lake State Park - Bingen
The best location in Washington to experience rock art is Horsethief Lake State Park, (100 pictographs in this area), which is just downstream of the inundated Celilo Falls on the Columbia. The Dalles Dam flooded this tribal site in 1957, which up to this time, provided the biggest single aboriginal fishing location on the Columbia. Tribes from all over the Northwest came each year to catch salmon and trade here. The Horsethief Lake area was a major village site, and over the centuries, dozen of images were painted and chipped into the volcanic basalt that lines that part of the Columbia River Gorge. Rangers at Horsethief Lake offer guided tours of extensive rock images high above the Columbia River.
Location: Take SR 14 along the Columbia River. The park is located at milepost 85 between Bingen and the Goldendale (Hwy 97) cut-off - directly across the Columbia from The Dalles, Oregon.
Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park - Vantage
The park consists of three major areas. The Heritage Area houses the park's Interpretive Center, the Natural Area has a hiking and interpretive trail, and the Wanapum Recreation Area which has camping and is located 7 kilometers (4.5 miles) south of Ginkgo on the west side of the Columbia River. Just below the Interpretive Center is a collection of Native American petroglyphs moved to the center from a now submerged site along the Columbia. Open year-round, the park offers a wide variety of recreational activities including sightseeing, picnicking, hiking, fishing, boating, water-skiing, swimming and camping.
Location: Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park and the Wanapum Recreation Area Vantage, WA 98950
Phone: (509) 856-2700.
Ginkgo State Park is located near the geographic center of the state in Kittitas County, where Interstate 90 crosses the Columbia River at Vantage.
Long Lake Pictographs - Tumtum
Red pictographs, likely by ancestors of the Spokane Tribe, can be seen on granite cliffs and a separate boulder on a wide terrace above the Spokane River. The area offers great hiking and views.
Location: The site is on the north side of the road between the towns of Tumtum and Ford near the intersection of SR 291 and SR 231. Follow the signs to Long Lake Dam. Note: If you see the dam, you have passed the pictographs by a few miles. The State Park is right after the pictographs and before the dam. Caution: Take the trail to the left of the large rocks. Do not attempt to climb the face unless you are an experienced rock climber. The direct face of the rocks becomes more dangerous the higher up you go.
Marmes Rock Shelter - Palouse Falls
Within a short distance of Palouse Falls State Park, is the Marmes Rock Shelter, the site of an important 1968 archeological dig. Geologists unearthed remains of the "Marmes Man," estimated to be 10,000 years old and among the oldest human remains ever found in the Western Hemisphere.
Location: At Palouse Falls State Park-south of Washtucna on SR 261-the Palouse River roars over a basalt cliff higher than Niagara Falls, dropping 198 feet into a steep-walled basin on its way to the Snake River. A hiking trail leads to an overlook above the spectacular falls. Downstream is the Marmes Rock Shelter.
Granite Canyon Rock Art - Omak
In 1886, a mission was established directly in front of an ancient cave that hid rocks carved with petroglyphs. Today, the old mission is used as an Indian Boarding School, known as the Pascal Sherman Indian School.
Location: Take Hwy 155, east of Omak, WA, approximately 50 miles north of Grand Coulee Dam. Visitors should call ahead for information and register at the school's administration office-509-826-2097.
Cliffside Painted Rocks - Yakima
These ancient pictographs are said to have been painted on a 70-foot high cliff of columnar basalt, when a prehistoric lake submerged the valley floor. The local Natives painted the cliffs from canoes, using a mixture of fish oil, minerals and other organic materials that has survived public and environmental abuse.
Location: The site is located off Hwy 12 toward Naches, between Gleed and Fruitvale, WA. Park on the shoulder of the road and follow the trail to the cliffside to view the pictographs, which extend 400-feet across the basalt wall.