The First River People

As we present-day humans visit the great Columbia river to relax and play, it's important to remember that a peaceful native American society once lived along its banks.  The river was called Chiawana, and the people were, and still are known as the Wanapum, which translates to "River People".  While the Wanapum relied on the river for their existence, it's likely they also found much comfort and relaxation from it, as we do today.


The petroglyphs at Ginkgo Petrified Forest are worth seeing in person.  It's hard not to be moved when you think about someone hundreds or thousands of years ago making a statement or preserving the memory of something important to them by etching it in stone...likely the only medium they had.  It's also hard not to be moved when you see that some inconsiderate _______________ couldn't find a better spot to do the same.  Hopefully TN and RN are still together (and smarter now), but we'd still like to have a chat with them.  There's been graffiti damage to other artifacts too, and we wish the petroglyphs were better protected from idiots.  Go see them on one of your next trips to CB.  It's a short but worthwhile side stop at Vantage.

We encourage you to invest some time learning about the first river people.  We've done some reading, visited the petroglyphs, and in 2018 we intend to visit the their Heritage Center, located at Wanapum Dam.  It looks like a nice place.  Wanapum People After Smohalla, by Stephen Emerson provides some great insight on the first river people.  We think it's good to know these things.

We've recently discovered there are other sites very near Crescent Bar where petroglyphs were discovered in the early 20th century, and could be submerged now.  We hope to learn and share more about these.  If you know about them and have interesting information to share, please let us know at