Saturday, November 23, 2013


Coyote's Penis, Stein River Valley, British Columbia.
 York, 1993, They Write Their Dreams on the Rocks
Forever, fig. 13, p. 8.

On occasion rock art would be located in a place that lends meaning or power to the imagery because of features of the local topography. Such a place is found in the Stein River Valley of British Columbia, Canada, at a feature known as Coyote’s Penis.

“Indians also frequently painted pictures on rocks which were thought to be metamorphosis beings (originally human or semi-human, semi-animal, or semi-God-like character) concerning which, there were stories in their ancient mythological tales or traditions. These rocks are generally boulders corresponding roughly to human and animal forms or to parts of the body, etc., or to rocks worn into peculiar or fantastic forms of various kinds, suiting in some way the story that is told of them. By painting on them power in some degree, it was thought, might be obtained from them or their spirits. . . (Teit 1918:3).” (York 1993:8)

“One of these sites is found at Spence’s Bridge in the vicinity of Spaeks ha snikiap (Coyote’s Penis) were the genitals of Coyote and his wife, as well as her woven cooking basket, were turned to three rock formations by Xwekt’xwektl.  Xwekt’xwektl had tried to transform them totally to stone but due to the countervailing shamanic power of Coyote, the transformer was able to succeed only with the Coyote’s penis, his wife’s vulva and the basket kettle from which they had been picknicking (Teit 1898:44, n. 132; 1900:337).” (York 1993:8-9)

In this case the local First Nation’s population remembers that there is a rock art panel near Coyote’s Penis but it has not been located in contemporary searches. Perhaps some damage has destroyed it, or perhaps vegetation is currently concealing the pictographs. One has to hope that it will be rediscovered and recorded as rock art from such a location carries possibly evocative meaning and content. At worst we can hope that it illustrates the myth recorded above, and thus would give us an opportunity for comparative analysis. In any case it does carry a very large curiosity factor.


Teit, J. A.
1898    Traditions of the Thompson River Indians of British Columbia, American Folklore Society, Houghton Mifflin, New York.

York, Annie, Richard Daly, and Chris Arnett
1993    They Write Their Dream on the Rock Forever: Rock Writings of the Stein River Valley of British Columbia, Talonbooks, Vancouver, British Columbia.

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