She Who Watches

She Who Watches, whose Native name is Tsagaglal, is an image created in stone. Unlike most of the rock images found in the region, which are either rock etchings (petroglyphs) or rock paintings (pictographs), She Who Watches is both.

She Who Watches sits high up on a bluff, overlooking the village of Wishxam, the village where Lillian Pitt’s  great-grandmother used to live.

She Who Watches was the first rock image that Lillian ever saw or knew anything about, and it was only because an elder took her to see it. The elder thought it would be good for Lillian to learn something of her heritage and of her grandmother’s village.

This is the legend about She Who Watches that the elder told Lillian, and the story that Lillian now tells:

There was this village on the Washington side of the Columbia Gorge. And this was long ago when people were not yet real people, and that is when we could talk to the animals.

And so Coyote — the Trickster — came down the river to the village and asked the people if they were living well. And they said: “Yes, we are, but you need to talk to our chief, Tsagaglal. She lives up in the hill.”

So Coyote pranced up the hill and asked Tsagaglal if she was a good chief or one of those evildoers. She said, “No, my people live well. We have lots of salmon, venison, berries, roots, good houses. Why do you ask?” And Coyote said, “Changes are going to happen. How will you watch over your people?” And so she didn’t know.

And it was at that time that Coyote changed her into a rock to watch her people forever.

You Can Visit She Who Watches

She Who Watches and other rock images can be viewed by special arrangement at Columbia Hills State Park, which is located off Hwy 14 between Lyle and Maryhill.

Please stay on the trails and do not touch any of the images. Please, at all times, show proper respect for the images, not just because they offer an amazing glimpse into the history of the region, but because many Native people feel they are sacred.

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