This is one of the horses from the sculpture “Grandfather Cuts Loose the Ponies.” Its premise is that the “Grandfather” gave the local Native Americans horses by dumping them out of a large basket. And, as I’ve mentioned before, it’s fiction.
The Plateau Indians of the Columbia River area, and especially the Sinkiuse people who inhabited the eastern side of the river in Central Washington, remember exactly how horses were introduced into their culture.
About 150 miles to the south, the Cayuse tribe acquired them around 1730. They quickly became breeders and amazing equestrians. While the Sinkiuse people didn’t have much use for the horse, they were greatly effected by its introduction.
Due to the expanded hunting grounds to the south, the bands who had horses first likely pushed the Sinkiuse northward to the area where they resided until forced onto reservations. Still, around 1750, the Sinkiuse had horses of their own, though it doesn’t seem to have changed their way of life nearly as much as it did with other tribes.
Perhaps it made their yearly migrations a bit easier, and allowed men to travel into the Plains from time to time, but that their lives were relatively unchanged makes this “monument” seem all the more out of place.
It’s also good to keep in mind that all of this took place before David Thompson became the first European to explore the entire Columbia River – in 1811. By this point, the tribes had already received tobacco and guns through trade with other tribes closer to the mouth of the Columbia.
‘With Beating Measured’
Camera: Kodak Brownie Hawkeye (c1950)
Film: Kodak Tmax 100 (x-03/2000)
Process: HC-110B; 7min
Near Vantage, Washington