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Wendell George | Why Native Americans have special respect for gravesites

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Provided by Wendell George A duplicate of a petroglyph found at Rock Island rapids.

For untold generations, stories circulated about our ancestors’ campgrounds in East Wenatchee. My dad, Moses, felt drawn there, so we moved to Grant Road and Kentucky Street. Much later, in 1987, 13,000-year-old Clovis spear points were discovered near Grant Road. The find included mammoth bone tools and evidence of giant sloths, camels, large bison and mastodon now extinct. The descendants of those people survived just like the Native Americans of today. Are they related?

The Colville Tribes staged a peaceful demonstration in October 1990 at the Clovis site to protest the dig. All deposits like that are sacred to us, not just graves. The dig was eventually stopped, but this highlighted the cultural difference between Native Americans and the dominant society.

We are very sensitive to this because there have been many Native American grave sites raided for souvenirs. In the 1890s, my great-grandfather, Chilcosahaskt, had to move his family’s graves from Orondo to Entiat to protect them. An Indian skull collection was proudly shown in the Aug. 12, 1954, Wenatchee World. A video about a New Zealand museum showed Chief Moses’ personal items that had been buried with him. We retrieved many remains of our people from the Smithsonian and gave them a proper burial.

A clue to Indian spirituality is hidden in the 10,000-year-old petroglyphs found at Vantage, buffalo caves, Crescent Bar, Spanish Castle, the Rock Island rapids and into Canada. At Rock Island alone, there were 350 to 500 petroglyphs now all under the backwaters of the dams. The few that were saved are at the Wenatchee museum — Plates 55, 56, and 57. The picture above is a duplicate of one of the plates.

At least one-fourth of the rock art shows a rayed arc of halo around the person’s head. The halo is an aura similar to religious pictures of today. Matthew 5:14 and others in the Bible describe humans as luminous beings. This is dramatically demonstrated by the petroglyphs.

The drawings also show concentric circles that are actually spirals viewed from the top. Spirals predated a written language and are everywhere in nature as shown in sunflowers, nautilus seashells, hurricanes and galaxies. The artists meditated to achieve an altered state of consciousness so they could see the interchange between the physical (sun) and spiritual (human consciousness). Our ancestors recorded these petroglyphs for posterity to demonstrate the key to our existence.

Wendell George writes Go-la’-ka Wa-wal-sh (Raven Speaks). He can be reached via email at His books are available at the local book stores, tribal museum and Amazon.