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Respond to: Pictagram site in Millican Valley Oregon now listed on National Register of Historic Places.
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from South Central Indiana, US
| New Message Posted!2009-10-11 04:51  |
Submitted by coldrum ---
In the 1950s, Minerva Soucie’s parents often stopped at an American Indian spiritual site in Millican Valley, Oregon, where they showed their children the pictographs that Northern Paiute people painted hundreds of years ago.
“It was a place (where) people come and look for direction, or to be used maybe in a spiritual quest process for their lives,” said Soucie, who is a Burns Paiute tribal elder. Her father explained the meaning of some paintings, although others were a mystery.
“It was in very good condition when I was a child,” Soucie said.
Two decades later, she saw that change. People damaged the site. “I liked going there until I went one time and it was vandalized,” Soucie said. “It looked like there were panels trying to be chipped off, and that to me was a desecration of our teachings or our spiritual way of life.”
After years of work by local archeologists and other concerned people, the site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in mid-July.
Soucie and others said they hope the new status will bring heightened public awareness of its importance and encourage people in the area to keep an eye out for vandals.
Paiute Indians, who are associated with the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, the Burns Paiute Tribe and the Klamath Tribes, continue to use the site today. The site is on private property, and the owners played an integral role in seeking the historic designation for the site, but they could not be reached for comment.
Cara Kazer, an architectural historian in the State Historic Preservation Office, said Oregon has about 33,000 known archeological sites, but only between 120 and 130 of those are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Oregon has 1,902 listings on the National Register of Historic Places, and 34 of them are in Deschutes County.
The site’s place on the national register will add to existing protections for archeological sites under Oregon law, said Susan Lynn White, assistant state archeologist with the State Historic Preservation Office.
For example, it is a misdemeanor for a person to remove an archaeological object or “excavate, injure, destroy or alter” an archaeological site or object in Oregon without a permit from the state. Another law protects American Indian graves and objects.
The location of the site is not being identified more specifically by The Bulletin to protect the artifacts. The State Historic Preservation Office also redacted large sections of the draft nomination form before releasing it to The Bulletin, citing the need to keep the exact location of the pictographs secret.
The pictographs, which were mostly done with red paint, probably date from 1500 B.C. to A.D. 1900, “When access to the site by the Paiute became limited due to their removal to reservations and further intrusions by Euroamerican settlers,” according to the nomination form released by the State Historic Preservation Office.
People who stopped at the area might have been hunting, trading or traveling to Northern Paiute gatherings. But in addition to practical aspects such as water at the site, people also considered it a powerful spiritual site, as the pictographs indicate.
The latest paintings at the site were probably created by Northern Paiute people who moved into Central Oregon within the last 1,000 years, although there is also faded pigment underneath some of these that could come from earlier paintings and suggests people used the area even earlier, according to the nomination form.
Images include human and animal stick figures, lizards, tally marks and abstract paintings such as grids, zigzags, chevrons and ladder figures, according to the nomination form.
One image consists of two red-tailed circles with yellow centers and two yellow dots.
“The tailed circles suggest meteorological phenomena, especially lightning, which represented a source of strong and dangerous spiritual power for the Northern Paiute,” according to the form.
“The highly abstract drawings of mazes, rectilinear grids and rakes, and stylized spirit figures of humans and animals likely reflect dreams and visions associated with the acquisition of guardian spirits. ... Some may represent hunting magic or the record of a successful hunt; others suggest the more powerful spirit helpers of shamans who could cure illness, control weather, or direct the communal antelope hunt.”
A large boulder shows grinding wear, polish and other marks that indicate people used it to grind plant foods, as well as possibly butchering animals and preparing hides.
Since the 1920s, visitors outlined the images with chalk to make them more visible for photography, and the chalk was offensive to American Indians who use the site, according to the nomination form. In 1988, members of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs restored the pictographs by removing the chalk with water and brushes.
Many of the paintings are faint and difficult to see, said Pat Kliewer, the former historic preservation planner for Deschutes County.
“It depends on the time of day and lighting whether you can see them at all,” Kliewer said. “It’s really important that people never touch them.” Even brushing against the images with clothing could damage them, Kliewer added.
Soucie, the Burns Paiute tribal elder, started working to protect cultural resources in the 1980s, after she saw that happened to the Millican Valley pictograph site. Now, she hopes the historic designation will help protect the site.
“I think having it on the federal register will help preserve the site,” Soucie said. “I believe that the rock art that was left was from people long, long ago, and they were trying to provide us with direction.”
For more, see the article in the Bend Bulletin. Article includes photographs: http://www.bendbulletin.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090822/NEWS0107/908220383/0/NEWS01.
[ This message was edited by: bat400 on 2009-10-11 05:00 ]