Petroglyph preserved thanks to fisherman’s keen eye

Fisherman Erik Wasankari of Gig Harbor, left, tells Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark about finding a centuries-old petroglyph while fishing along the Calawah River outside Forks. DNR Photo
Fisherman Erik Wasankari of Gig Harbor, left, tells Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark about finding a centuries-old petroglyph while fishing along the Calawah River outside Forks. DNR Photo

Father-and-son anglers Erik and Reid Wasankari had just sat down to have lunch while fishing on the Calawah River last December, when they noticed a large rock with unusual grooves and shapes.

“I knew it was something special. I knew it had to belong to the tribe,” Erik Wasankari said after a ceremony held by the tribe to recover the petroglyph Wednesday on the banks of the Calawah River.

What they saw, as has since been reported, was what officials with the Quileute Tribe believe to be the most important relic linking present-day members to an age-old legend of a battle between K’wati, a transformative figure in Quileute mythology, and a monstrous Red Lizard.

After spotting the petroglyph, Wasnankari took pictures and contacted the Quileute Tribe who called Washington Department of Natural Resources archaeologists to inspect and authenticate the petroglyph.

Also at Wednesday’s ceremony was Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark who hailed Wasankari for having that instinct.

“A lot of people, if they found a rock like that, might not have had that thought. This could have ended up in somebody’s front yard,” Commissioner Goldmark said.

Cultural resources – artifacts, remains of settlements, etc. – are an important part of the history and heritage of our state and tribal territories. Identifying and preserving them are important part of what DNR does for our shared lands.

If you believe you have discovered a cultural resource, avoid disturbing it and contact Forest Practices staff in the DNR region office where you saw the cultural resource.

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