Spirit Eels in the Grassland

A few weeks back I went to Asotin, where the Moray eels used to come up from the sea to spawn. Chief Looking Glass’s camp was there, at the fishery. Here’s the creek, again.


See how she flicks her tail out into the current of the snake, like an eel? For reference,  here’s a moray eel.


During my time in Nimíipuu country, on the Clearwater and the Snake, in early June, I learned that every village is backed by rounded hill formations, and faces expressive, jagged ones in which it is easy to read animal forms. So I made the trip across the Snake to stand at the mouth of Asotin (eel) Creek to see what I could see. To my surprise (and joy), I saw an eel, facing the stream mouth from the Idaho shore.

Such mysteries.

Note: An imagined eel is no less powerful in determining human relationships to the environment, and hence the sustainability of the environment, than a physical one. “Nature” is an idea imposed on this spiritual space.

Eel and Turtle

This morning, I showed an image of the mouth of Asotin Creek, where the Moray Eels used to spawn in the Snake River grasslands, in the far west of Washington, before the Columbia was dammed. Today I hiked for four hours through the ancient village site across the river. It was 100 degrees Fahrenheit. It was glorious. Then I went to Asotin and looked across the river to see what I could see. I suggest you click on the image below, and maybe you can see it to, in this land that takes a set number of forms, based on its geology. It’s an eel! And it forms the rim and legs of a turtle. Or a sloth. Let’s go with turtle. Note how it takes the same shape as Asotin Creek’s tiny bar. That’s the way of it.  eelturtleAre these things really there? By Western measurement, no. By observation, yes. Once you’ve seen it, you will always know where you are. Your map will be a series of stories. Not only that, but it will feed you, because in this landscape a form like this tells you to look behind you. There you will find water, flowing in a particular way. The glacial floods have left their tracks. They have left emptiness, but it is in their shape, and the sky fills it, like a sacrificial bowl. This place is so beautiful and pure!