Photo courtesy of Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center
Harold Cundy made these drawings in the early 1930s.

Harold J. Cundy’s drawings and documentation from the 1930s will be featured when the Methow Valley Interpretive Center presents “Rock Images of the Columbia Plateau,” with speakers Bill Layman and Randy Lewis plus musician Arnold Cleveland, on Sunday (March 25) at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. at The Merc Playhouse in Twisp. Admission is by donation.

Selling flour for Centennial Mills of Wenatchee in the late 1920s and early 1930s, Cundy’s route took him to grocery stores throughout North Central Washington. After making his deliveries, he would ask the storekeepers if they knew of any spirit rocks or picture writings in the area. He then set off to locate them. Using pencils and inks, persistence and a home-grown gift of drawing, Cundy, over a nine-year period, documented over 60 places in North Central Washington where painted and pecked images had been left on basalts and granite. Cundy shared that at times he was given access to sites because of trust he established among Indians he had met.

In some cases Cundy’s work is the only record that remains of sites he drew. Many are now submerged below the waters of the Columbia; others have been destroyed by road building or vandalization. In 1938 Cundy donated two bound volumes of his collected work to the Washington State Historical Society. His field sketches and preliminary drawings are held in restricted files at the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center. 

Cundy’s efforts, largely unsung, represent a significant contribution to the region’s deeper story of people whose continual presence in these North Central Washington landscapes spans thousands of years. Layman’s illustrated presentation will focus on Cundy’s story and how Cundy’s work helped define the Columbia Plateau Style as it fits within the larger world of rock art studies. No site locations will be shared. All are regarded as traditional cultural properties.

Layman has been contemplating the region’s rock images since moving to Wenatchee in 1979. In 2008 Layman co-curated WVMCC’s award-winning exhibit on the historical photography of the Columbia which traveled throughout the Pacific Northwest and was featured by both the Royal British Columbia Museum and the Washington State Historical Society. His two books, “Native River: The Columbia Remembered” (2002) and “River of Memory: The Everlasting Columbia” (2006) offer historical and poetic reflections on the Columbia.

Randy Lewis (Wenatchi/P’Squosa/Methow), a member of the Colville Confederated Tribes, is a highly regarded organizer and leader of Pacific Northwest tribes who for years has been at the forefront of speaking for and empowering Indian communities. He grew up with his grandfather, Jerome Miller, who passed on a vast storehouse of oral tradition that chronicles the lives of Indian people living in the Mid-Columbia region.

Arnold Cleveland (Wenatchi/P’Squosa) will open the two presentations with flute music offered as prayer. He is a Native singer, songwriter and musician.

For information, email mvinterpretivecenter@gmail.com or call 997-0620.