Columbia River Art


CHINOOK ARTIST GREG A. ROBINSON, inspired by the ancient and unique Columbia River art style, designed and built the Chinook Plaza out of respect for the resiliency of his True Chinook ancestors, and with hope for the future of The Chinook Nation. He originated the concept and design, carved and polished tons of basalt, granite, and sandstone, and used red ochre for accent in the Chinook Plaza. The 7 1/2 foot guardian, or power figure, incorporates the Columbia River style elements of exposed ribs and prominent eyes. Circles and triangles in threes and fives occur repeatedly and are significant to the Chinookan tribes. This welcoming figure is the tallest-known monolithic stone carving on the West Coast, north of Mexico.

Perched atop the basalt power figure is the granite figure of Coyote, watching over the Plaza and Park. Carved on the back of the figure is Salamander or Water Turtle, an ancient petroglyph symbol. The base is surrounded by concentric circles carved into the bluestone floor. Circular cupules or water collectors, modeled on nearby pecked-boulder petroglyphs, are carved across the concentric circles. When filled with rainwater, their blue reflections remind us of rivers nearby. Five polished-basalt stones provide seating. Encircling a Tyai honor and the Plaza are three beds of plants used by the Chinookan tribes for food and medicine and raw materials for basketry, cordage, woodworking tools, canoes, and houses.

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