Joseph Creek Pictographs spring 2012

It often saddens me a little to think after close to 10,000 years of use, the Nez Perce story in Joseph Canyon is gone without a trace after less than 150 years.  It is doubtful that any of their stories from this canyon are remembered anymore and as I have walked along its deep basalt walls I have looked at hundreds of rocks hoping that I might find a pictograph or petroglyph on one of them.  A picture, although not a whole story, would be a bit of a small story.

This spring the boys and I were on raft delivery and pickup duty with a few hours to kill.  I casually said, “Let’s do a short hike into Joseph Creek and see if we can find some pictographs.”  I did not expect to find any such thing.  As I said before I have looked at hundreds of rocks hoping to find one and have had no success.  This day, though, I noticed something much too red high up.  I stopped and stared.  “Surely that isn’t a pictograph as far away as we are” I thought to myself.  I pointed out the red area up above us and told the boys we had better work our way up the rocks to investigate.  And sure enough there was a clear and very visible pictograph.

There were three very well protected pictographs together.  One reminded me of a rattlesnake, another looked to be the sun, and a third, perhaps the back of a horned lizard.  After this find we began to scour the rock face and ended up finding many more less distinguishable pictographs right on the creek bottom.  Click on the picture below to see the pictographs and please send me an email if you know what any of the symbols mean.


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