The region surrounding the Dalles, Oregon, believed to be one of the most continuously occupied areas in the world, has been a meeting place for thousands of years for Klickitat, Umatilla, Warm Springs and Celilo tribes, Cayuse and Nez Perce from the eastern slopes of the Cascades and coastal and river tribes led by the Chinook traveling from the west. They converged on the barren rocks beside wild waters to fish, trade, visit and gamble.
In 1954 a project began to further harness the power of the Columbia River. The Dalles Dam would be built just a few miles east of The Dalles and inundate the spectacular Celilo Falls, rock cliffs, island Indian burial grounds and more. Throughout the area were a wide variety of petroglyphs (drawings carved into rock) that would be under water once The Dalles Dam was completed. Not only Native Americans, but many others mourned their imminent loss. Cecile Colcord hated to think of these petroglyphs being lost forever. She decided to make rubbings of these incredible symbols before it was too late, and made sketches, as well. She concentrated on accuracy in detailing the drawings, trying to record as many as possible. Those drawings are what were used to create this book.