ROCK ART OF THE OREGON TERRITORY

OUR BACKGROUNDS, METHODS, PROCEDURES & EXPERIENCES

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by D. Russel Micnhimer
 
I have had an interest in archaeology for over thirty years. Pursuing those interests has lead to several extended journeys to Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Peru, Bolivia, Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, India and Nepal. While, ruins in these places have been my primary focus, rock art has been a peripheral interest. I spent three summers in the mid 1990's exploring the ruins and rock art of the U.S. southwest, visiting major and lesser-known sites in Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. More recently I have focused on rock art in Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho and Nevada. In 2006 I engineered a private visit to Little Petroglyph Canyon in the Coso range and visited, photographed and videoed several other sites in the vicinity, expanding my first hand experience of Great Basin petroiconography. I also visited an undocumented site on private land in northern California and a possibly astronomically inspired rock art and cave site in the same vicinity. I visited and recorded photographically several sites in Idaho including the very difficult to reach Wees Bar site on the Snake River in 2007. In 2008 I visited sites in the high Sierras in northern California in the company of members of the Bay Area Rock Art Research Association. In 2009 I visited a number of Loring sites in the Owyhee River drainage, learned the exact locations of many non-Loring sites in said drainage and made the BLM in that area aware of the exact locations of many Loring sites (using their field notes) of which the BLM was unaware. I was assisted in these efforts by OAS member Debra Mitzel. Additionally I visited the majority of publicly displayed rock art along the Columbia River in Washington and photographically recorded a number of sites in the Okanogan River drainage. This was aided by internet research, contact with private individuals and accessing the literature that exists for that area. Research and promotional appeal to locals following the lead of Cressman and Lorings in the news media has lead to discovery and recording visits to several sites that were not recorded by the Lorings or Cressman, and we will continue to employ the method.
 
Over the summers of 2002-2010 LeeAnn and I have spent approximately 145 days in the field exploring dozens of rock art sites in Oregon and Washington. We have visited sites in controlled areas such as parks, on public lands and (with proper permission) on private lands. During these visits we have observed proper etiquette concerning such sites, such as not touching or chalking them. We have recorded them photographically with film, digital and video devices. We are very aware of the various challenges involved in this enterprise and methods of overcoming those issues, such as visiting panels at various times of day to obtain optimum lighting conditions, shading them and illuminating them with reflectors. We have also stippled several images, a technique we were familiarized with during the OAS class on rock art recording taught by Dr. James Keyser. These records we have organized in photograph albums and in 2007 I created a website that  focuses directly on our Oregon research (www.oregonrockart.com). It has risen to the top in the major search engines and is consistently drawing hundreds of unique visits a day, demonstrating there is considerable interest in the subject world wide. In 2010 I added 30 new galleries bringing the total number of images to around 10,000. These include digital copies of the Lorings black and white photographs I obtained by visiting the archives at UCLA, the new Loring recorded sites we visited in 2009 and a number of non Loring recorded sites that we have discovered using several techniques, visited and recorded. I have also posted a number of cutting edge galleries that allow visitors to see rock art sites in 3-D. I developed a half hour long narrated slide show dealing with Oregon Rock Art in general and presented this at an evening event for the BLM visitor center in Maupin, Oregon in 2008. In 2009 I prepared a paper detailing many of our new discoveries that was included in the OAS publication, Rock Art of the Oregon Country-Honoring the Lorings' Legacy. Screenings published an article I wrote and it was reprinted in the newsletter of the Council of Affiliated Societies as "an example of excellent research".
 
LeeAnn has spent countless hours matching our images with the line drawings in the Lorings' monographs. Her albums have grown to twenty in number containing approximately three thousand photographs. During 2008 LeeAnn reworked all the albums to include many of Lorings' black and white photographs and many new comments and observations about the visited sites. That work continued in 2010. These were avidly perused by many folks at our 2008 OAS presentation. A slide show of these albums on CD has been placed in the OAS library and we made it available in 2008 to interested parties on the website. We continue to archive our original photographs and video records in the OAS library.
 
We received Loring and Loring Grants in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 and delivered our presentations to the OAS early in 2006 and 2007 and in October 2008. They were well received. We continue to work on ways to make these presentations more interesting and educational. In 2008 we exhibited a number of Loring rubbings that were on temporary loan from UCLA. Screenings has published several articles I have submitted detailing our research. I will continue to submit such articles.
 
In 2010 we self published a small guidebook to sites where people can see rock art under controlled conditions such as museums and visitor centers. It is titled Where to See Rock Art in Washington, Oregon & Idaho. A copy will be placed in the OAS library.
 
 
 
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