The Two Faces of Beacon Rock

What’s in a name? Lots. To US American culture, this batholith is called “Beacon Rock.”

Kind of a lighthouse, really. When you see it, you know where you are, from a distance. To the Tsinuks, who were here for thousands of years before the Beacon people came with their steamships, the rock has two (well, hundreds, but the two you can see above) faces, looking up the Columbia River and down, at the point at which tidal forces stop pulling and pushing the water. In their cultural understanding, it is the rock that watches. The people live in the space of the rock watching. In this space, the watching is as gifted to the rock as it is returned. This weaving of world and identity is profoundly different from the US American conception, but not so different that a joint understanding is not still possible. I dream of that union and work towards it daily.


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