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Legend of She Who Watches

Pacific Northwest Native Americans believed that the earth had gone through several different ages. This legend dates to the beginning of the modern age, but long before the coming of the White Man. There are several versions of this memory, including this one, a favorite of Weird Washington’s Jeff Davis:

Long ago, in the before time, the Great Spirit wandered the world. He traveled along the Great River (the Columbia) and stopped at a village.

He asked the people if they lived well or in poverty. They said that they were happy because of the guidance of their chief. He asked where their chief was, and they pointed to the hills above their village.

He went up to the hills, and found a woman sitting in front of a hut, looking down at the village. She told him she was the chief, and she looked after her people, teaching them how to build and live well. He told her, “the world is changing, and women will no longer be chiefs. What will you do now?”

The woman asked the Great Spirit to turn her into stone, so that she could continue watching over her people. As a sign of mercy, he did just that, and her image was painted into the rock face, overlooking her village. In the local dialect, she is named Tsagigla'lal, or She Who Watches.

Weird Washington


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