Thomas Doty – Storyteller

A Native View

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Watchers

In native myths of the West, there are characters known as Watchers. They keep an eye on the people. They care for ancient wisdoms and ensure that they are passed on to each new generation. When the well-being of the culture is in peril, Watchers give a wake-up gaze to inspire the people into action. Traditionally, native villages have their real-life Watchers as well. As a reminder of their presence, images of Watchers were carved and painted on rocks. Many are still among us.

Famous among Watchers is Tsagiglalal, She Who Watches. In a Wishram myth, she was the leader of her village. As Coyote traveled along the Columbia River, he arrived at the old woman's home. He asked her how she treated her people. She replied, "I teach them to live well." "This is good," said Coyote, "but the world is changing and women will no longer be chiefs." Coyote turned Tsagiglalal into a rock. Her face formed on the face of that rock, her large eyes looking across the river. Coyote told her, "You shall keep an eye on the people who live here, and on those who journey along the river." Several years ago, as corporations squabbled over legal ownership of her image, the wise eyes of Tsagiglalal widened as she watched the deeds of the people.

Watchers still keep their vigils. Those who look among the rocks and see a Watcher gazing back at them are reminded to do good things in this world.