[ed. note: updated May 1 2012 with information about the location and photographer]
I wish we knew more about this image. It has two notes on the back: "Early Day Indians" and "Mark Weygandt Comes West." It certainly seems like it was taken by a professional photographer. I suspect it to be the work of one of the well known photographers who traveled our region in the 19th century, but the only published version of it I can find was from the copy in our collection.
Mark Weygandt was a well know guide on Mount Hood. He was born in 1880 and lived in Parkdale. I am unaware of any involvement of his with Native Americans.
Can anyone identify the spot, the photographer, or add any insight into this image?
And we have an answer! HHR reader Tim has sent me a photo and a great story which solve our mystery. He sent me another photo with many of the same people, but his is clearly labelled "F.H. Howell" and "Bluffs of Topkuk". Topkok is near Nome, Alaska, along the Iditarod trail. F.H. Howell is well known for documenting Nome and the 1906 Alaska gold rush-- many of his photos are at the University of Washington archives. Tim's grandfather and great grandfather were in Nome trying unsuccessfully to recover gold from a sunken ship off Nome, and he ran across this HHR post while researching the SS Alameda.
Solve one mystery, uncover another: how did this photo of Native Alaskans near Nome wind up in our history museum, with Mark Weygandt's name on it?
I really can't figure out what the connection with Mark Weygandt and the Indians were. Apparently if there are two notes on the back with reference there must have been some connection.
Definitely on the Columbia River bank, but we know there were Indians camping all up and down that river.
Charlott on 2nd April 2012 @ 7:09am
Also we must keep in mind the possible connection with him and local Indians up there around the Cooper Spur area. They came to pick huckleberries and quite probably he would have encountered them.
Now his son, Myron's wife's mother, Arline Winchell Moore was very involved with the Indians. I can recall being in Moore Electric on Oak Street when Indians came in for her to explain a letter, probably from the government. They trusted her greatly in being very honest with them.
Charlott on 2nd April 2012 @ 7:11am
Although it seems impossible to tell where this photo was taken unless you recognize a landmark, the angle of the sun, direction of the wind and their attire do lead me to remark the following:
It does look to be taken along the banks of the Columbia, and although my initial thought was that this location is east of Hood River on the north bank with the photographer looking east, I would say that from their attire it’s a summer west wind day rather than a fall east wind morning, which, if this is the Columbia, puts them on the south bank with the photographer looking west. The lack of trees on the bluff in the background must place them east of Hood River.
Jim on 2nd April 2012 @ 8:46am
Jim, negatives were frequently printed flipped-- either by accident or because the photographer preferred that composition. Don't put too much stock in the wind or shadow direction without the actual negative.
Arthur on 2nd April 2012 @ 9:18am
In my reading of the local history the interaction between the whites and the natives was a common everyday thing. Unlike today. So it is not unlikely that he could have come across this scene as it was taking place all up and down the Gorge. It definitely looks like it is East of HR. Nice to see beaches on the Columbia!
andrew b on 2nd April 2012 @ 9:52am
My first thought when seeing the photo, was that they are Wasco Indians.
The background makes me think of the Washington side east of Maryhill, but I could be way off on both guesses.
If Weygandt was born in 1880, this would probably be a post 1900 photo.
The combination of white canvas tents and larger row boats makes me think white men could be involved with this camp.
Can anyone tell what is scattered on the ground where they are sitting? Are those wood chips?
And I wonder why the boats are pulled so far up out of the water. Those aren't light boats.
l.e. on 2nd April 2012 @ 4:30pm
I definitely feel that this is more likely up around the Celilo Falls area. White mans tents and row boats definitely mean something, but what is the question.
As to the tribe here is another one. Remember there were many small branch off tribes of the Yakimas, Warm Springs, etc. and they all came to the Columbia to fish.
My great-grandfather had interaction with these tribes on a daily basis in Biggs.
Charlott on 2nd April 2012 @ 8:05pm
Oooops, I am wrong about Weygandt probably arriving in this area after 1900.
His obituary says:
"Mr. Weygandt was born in Excelsior, Ill., on December 16, 1881. While still a boy he set out on a bicycle trip with two brothers. They pedaled their way from Polo, Ill., to The Dalles, Or., in 1897."
l.e. on 3rd April 2012 @ 9:00am
one of those boats looks like a baidarka, a native Alaskan kayak. The geology doesn't look like basalt that would be in the eastern gorge. Could the material on the ground be shells?
Ranger on 3rd April 2012 @ 1:13pm
Ranger asks some good questions. I've examined the high res source and I'll try to post some detail views later so you can judge for yourself.
I think the material on the ground is river rock with chunks of wood or possibly bone mixed in. I don't think it shell, though I'm not positive. Some of the cliff face looks like columnar basalt. In the smoke near the fire there are some very odd looking objects, maybe bird carcasses or other animals.
The child on the right is wearing leather cowboy boots, but the others all seem to be wearing moccasins.
Arthur on 3rd April 2012 @ 2:58pm
OK, I've uploaded 5 detailed views to flickr-- start with the link below, and scroll through all 5. Make sure you zoom in to maximum resolution:
Arthur on 3rd April 2012 @ 3:35pm
I wondered about a coastal scene because of the boats, but they aren't really pulled up far enough for a coastal tide.
The little pieces of drift wood look like what gets left in a cove. I thought at first shells, but no.
Those boots don't have to be cowboy boots. Could be regular leather wear such as miners wear.
In that photo the woman is wearing a ring on her left hand.
In the fire could be horse clams.
I have no idea what that object between the fire and kayak could be. A bag or a dead seal. It looks like there might also be one in the boat.
It looks like netting to the left of the smoke.
I don't know....
l.e. on 4th April 2012 @ 4:37pm
That thing above the woman's head does look like a seal.
Charlott on 19th April 2012 @ 7:11am
The photo looked vaguely familiar to something from my great grandfathers Nome and Bluff, Alaska photos and postcards. It's another shot with some of the same group, including the woman with striped dress and the boy on her lap, with his distinctive hat. The photo is by F. H. Nowell, has the reversed number 5034, and the bottom it says, "Bluffs at Topkuk (Topkok)"
If you wish I can send off a scan to you.
Tim Finch on 30th April 2012 @ 6:23pm
Thanks to Tim's scan, we have a good answer to the Mystery Monday mystery. I've updated the post notes with the story and some good links.
Arthur on 1st May 2012 @ 10:37am
Wow! What a story. I had someone ask me about that photo about a year ago, they were wondering where it was taken, now we know!
Casey on 1st May 2012 @ 11:02am
Wow is right! Thanks Arthur. This info would have been unknown forever without HHR. If the new mystery surrounding this photo can be solved the HHR readers are the group to turn to.
Jim on 1st May 2012 @ 6:55pm