Saturday, June 18, 2016
Cascadia Cave is not precisely a cave, it's more of an overhang. It's also a very significant site for Native American petroglyphs. Cascadia Cave is located on private land next to Cascadia State Park. Tony Farque, an anthropologist with the Sweet Home Ranger District in the Willamette National Forest, occasionally conducts guided tours with the landowner's permission. Even though the cave is not a long hike at all from the parking area, the tour is a whole day affair. We toured it a couple years ago, and I wanted Jasper to see it again. This time, Tony arranged for Don Day, a highly skilled flint knapper and Kalapuya elder , to give a talk about his craft and show us some of his traditional tools. Tony also showed us an array of artifacts (some authentic and some reproductions) that tell the story of the Kalapuya people who made this area their home. As we made our way to the cave, he stopped often to show us features of the land that were significant to Native people, and to tell us about the uses they found for the native plants and trees we were passing. At the cave, he tied the imagery of the petroglyphs in with similar imagery created by shamans around the world, and explained how the images may tie in with the spiritual experiences of the shamans who used the cave. He also told us in detail about the history of the cave and the damage done by "archaeologists" and treasure hunters over decades of looting, defacing the petroglyphs with the intention of making the designs more visible, and adding graffiti to the wall. The overhang used to be dry, but digging for artifacts has lowered the ground level around the wall substantially, causing rain water to pool and encourage moss and lichen to grow and speed up erosion of the petroglyphs. While grants might be available some day to help restore and preserve the cave, the fact that it's on private land makes obtaining a grant very difficult. He explained that the property owners are unable legally to sell the land; instead they would have to trade it, and suitable land must be found for a trade offer. I was really pleased to have an opportunity to see this unique place firsthand and hear about it from someone who has long studied it in every detail.