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.