Among the petroglyphs at Horsethief Lake is one that has always caused me to wonder. Of course the site is home to the famous Tsagaglalal or She-Who-Watches image. This is not the one I refer to, rather a somewhat smaller and usually overlooked image.
To me this petroglyph is obviously a total solar eclipse.
To my eye the image is clearly that of the solar corona surrounding the black shadow of the Moon against the Sun. The image is all the more striking to me personally… In 1979 I witnessed a total solar eclipse, my first, just a short distance from here, from the bluffs above Maryhill.
The Horsethief petroglyphs are something special to me, wrapped in childhood memories. This is also where I proposed to Deborah, in front of the magnificent Tsagaglalal, She Who Watches. Traveling to eastern Oregon to visit family we had made a point to stop by and see this place again.
In my youth visiting was easy, the petroglyphs were were almost forgotten and sat quietly along the river, visited by those few who knew they were there.
The Horsethief recreational area was a lightly used picnic area and campground, one of many along the river. If you knew where the little trail was you could simply park by the rail tracks and walk out to the images. Among my earliest memories I remember swimming in the lake and visiting these petroglyphs.
Like so many with a Native American heritage I have been watching the protests at Standing Rock, trying to figure out which side of the issue I am on. I find I can not automatically support the tribal side of this as some of my relatives have, the issue is not so clear cut. I have been reading both sides to see where the issue lies.
The incident has much in parallel with the issues here on our mountain. Native people protesting a project that takes place on a purported sacred site. There is also the element of environmentalism in protesting an oil pipeline, and entirely different issue than a clean project like an observatory.