Go Silent

Here we are again at the camp of Chief Moses and the Sinkiuse band. In the middle to late 1800s, this site saw the lodges of hundreds of Native Americans. The Sinkiuse took this side of the Rocky Ford Creek, leaving the other side for guests, often from Montana. The tribe eventually settled on the Colville Reservation, but continued their migrations until 1884 – one of the last bands to surrender their old ways.

In a tour given by Billy Curlew of the Sinkiuse band in 1946, a forest ranger and a few others were shown to this site. While it’s now on public land and an easy 1.25 mile walk down an old Jeep road, in the 40s, there was a bit more to it.

“A short distance below Kick-la-cast [a different camp of the Moses band, located along Rocky Ford Creek] we crossed the Ephrata-Moses Lake Highway and entered a fenced field through a gate beside a ‘No Trespassing’ sign. Down the field approximately one mile, where the hills to the west encroached on the narrow valley, it was necessary to open two gates and to go through a barnyard and past a ranch house. Obviously the ranch is headquarters for a sheep outfit.

“A short distance below the ranch house we opened another gate and drove into a field pastured by buck sheep. About the middle of the field we left the car and crawled through a tight barbed wire fence to the west. At approximately 100 yards from the car we arrived at the base of a hill to the west and a large rock about 10 feet high and 10 feet in diameter.

“This, Billy informed us, was the site of one of the most important camps of the Moses band. Its Indian name is Un-ta-pas-neat, meaning ‘rock on the hill side.’

“About 75 or 80 feet east of the rock, Billy showed us a clear, circular depression in the ground, the site of the lodge of Chief Moses. Immediately south was another circular depression, the site of the lodge of his brother. Here Chief Moses held court and received important visitors. For the convenience of Chief Moses and his guests a rope to which horses could be tethered was stretched about the big rock.”

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‘Go Silent’

Camera: Crown Graphic 4×5 (1962)
Lens: 127mm f/4.7 Rodenstock Ysarex
Film: Kodak Tmax 100 (x-09/03); 64iso
Process: Rodinal 1+50; 12min

Rocky Ford Creek, Grant County, Washington

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