Native American tribes have their own rich and vibrant mythology with talking ravens and trickster coyotes and wise turtles building mountains or turning people into mountains, etc. But there are five legends in Washington State that appear to be true... or at least could be true.

  • 1

    How Did They Know It Was Above the Water?

    The Native American word for Rattlesnake Mountain is Laliik, which means “land above the water.” It’s an odd name for a mountain considering it’s several miles from the Columbia River and all the surrounding land is “above the water” due to the gorge. Considering it was one of only two local landmarks that stayed above the floodwaters during the ice age, it’s possible the name is 12-13,000 years old. Local tribes all believe it is a spiritual epicenter.

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  • 2

    Bridge of the Gods

    After appealing to the Gods for help crossing the Columbia River, Native Americans believe Manito build a land bridge across near present-day Cascade Locks. Manito later grew angry and destroyed the bridge. Scientists believe it is entirely possible a mudslide, earthquake or volcanic eruption slid a hillside into the river blocking it. Then erosion wore out the bottom of the earth dam but not the top, leaving a stone archway. Eventually it fell, leaving the gorge as it appears today. No one knows the truth, but the current bridge was named “Bridge of the Gods” in honor of the legend.

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  • 3

    Handprints in the Lava

    There really are hand and footprints in the lava bed beneath Goose Lake, near Trout Lake, near Lemei Rock in the Indian Heaven Wilderness. Some scientists believe Native Americans carved the hand and footprints, even though they do no resemble Native American art – they are too lifelike. It is more likely someone accidentally fell into hot lava! Native American legend believe that’s exactly what happened. At the Trout Lake Visitor Center you can see a cast of the imprints. If they are authentic, they could be between 2,000 and 10,000 years old.

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  • 4

    You're Being Watched

    At the Columbia Hills Historical State Park you can take a walking tour of Native American petroglyphs looking over the Columbia River. Most have sacred meanings, but the most sacred is the Tsagaglalal, which means She Who Watches. It is protected by the park service and can only be seen on a guided tour. Native American legend believes a wise female chief was turned to stone so she could watch over her tribe forever. To mark which rock she was the tribe painted Tsagaglalal. The part that will give you chills is that some believe she can see everything going on around the river. So beware, you’re being watched.

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  • 5

    I Want to Believe

    Sasquatch is a unique legend because it is shared by so many different tribes with differing oral and religious traditions. One of the first white men to mention the legend was a Protestant missionary in 1840 who wrote that natives around Spokane insisted hairy giants lived in the hills and snuck down to steal salmon from their catch nets

    Chris Rogers