‘Red Lizard’s Lair’ recovered by Quileute Tribe; authenticated by DNR

DNR archaeologist Maurice Major inspects the Calawah rock in October. DNR Photo.

A red cranky lizard once guarded the shortest path between the Sol Duc and Calawah rivers until K’Wati, the legendary figure who transformed the Quileute Tribe of Indians from wolves, vanquished the lizard and allowed safe passage on the path.

Quileute officials Wednesday recovered a newly-discovered petroglyph, hand-carved prior to contact with Europeans, that depicts that battle.

Elders and tribal leaders say the rock is the only known petroglyph depicting a Quileute legend on the tribe’s traditional territory.

“This is one of the most important finds in the history of our tribe,” Quileute Council Chairman Chaz Woodruff said.

Nearly all of the tribe’s art from pre-contact days was lost in an 1889 fire that destroyed its village at La Push. To prevent this important relic from being stolen or vandalized, the tribe relocated it to the Quileute reservation.

Last December, a fisherman who had grown up in the area noticed the rock while fishing for winter steelhead in the state-owned shorelands along the Calawah River. Calawah (pronounced Ka’ law wah) means “middle river” in Quileute.

He took pictures and contacted the Quileute Tribe who called Washington Department of Natural Resources archaeologists to inspect the petroglyph.

DNR archaeologists were able to authenticate the rock and the story of K’wati’s battle with the Red Lizard after inspecting it and consulting cultural surveys of the river done by state archaeologists in consultation with the tribe decades ago.

The rock serves as a reminder that cultural resources are an important part of the history and heritage of our state and tribal territories.

Often, cultural resources are difficult to identify and determine their purpose. If you believe you have discovered a cultural resource, avoid disturbance and contact Forest Practices in the DNR region office where the cultural resources were discovered.

To learn about the types of “cultural resources” found in the forest, this video presentation provides a useful overview. The presentation was made available by the Timber/Fish/Wildlife Cultural Resources Roundtable.

DNR works toward collaborative relationships and good communication with Tribes in all its programs, at all levels across the agency. The department recognizes the Tribes’ separate rights and authorities and maintains government-to-government relations with the 29 recognized Indian Tribes residing in the state of Washington as well as other interested Indian Tribes outside of the state of Washington.

The Centennial Accord was established in 1989 through the governor and the signatory tribes. In addition, the Commissioner of Public Lands also recognizes the department’s relationship with Washington’s sovereign tribes with an official Commissioner’s Order on Tribal Relations. The Commissioner’s Order serves as the department’s overall tribal relations policy and commits the department to conduct relations with the tribes as one government to another. Building on the foundation that the Centennial Accord provided, the Governor and tribes met in 1999 to again express their desire to build stronger working relationships by adopting the Millennium Agreement. These various documents provide the context for DNR’s tribal relations program.

DNR’s Tribal Relations Manager coordinates these efforts for the agency.

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