Wallen Creek (23WA7)

Wallen Creek Site was registered with the Archaeological Survey of Missouri by Claude H. Downard from Potosi, MO in the 1950s or 1960s; the form is undated. Frank Magre visited the site and took photographs in the 1960s. Carol Diaz-Granados visited the site with Frank Magre in the 1990s. This site is located on private property and it is not open to the public. This site belongs to the "Big Five" group defined by Diaz-Granados as comprising Washington State Park A, Washington State Park B, Madden Creek, Three Hills Creek, and Wallen Creek.



Field recording using clear plastic of the petroglyphs on the east half of the South Boulder at the Wallen Creek Site in Washington County, MO.



Tracing of the petroglyphs on the east side of the South Boulder at the Wallen Creek Site. Diaz-Granados and Duncan (2004:Figure 9.6) identify the activity in this panel as anthromorphs engaged in a competitive game of either chunkee or stick ball. My impression while outlining the petroglyphs was that they are literally playing stick ball on the edge of the hour glass shaped tinajitas (Spanish, basin feature). The Osage Nation continue to play kasini (Osage, stickball game) using a htaape (Osage, ball) and htapesu (Osage, ball stick) - terms from Quintero (2009:83, 117).

The taller figure (left) measures 32 cm in height while the shorter man (right) measures 22 cm tall. The two figures may be related to the adventures of the Hero Twins in a myth cycle where two boys eventually becomes sky spirits called "Lightning Boy" and "Thunder Boy" (Lankford and Dye 2014:43; Dye 2015:176-177). The Wallen Creek site does have several panels with designs that can be interpreted as thunderbolts. The larger figure could be an asexual monster or spirit that one of the twin boys is competing against by playing kasini. A Seneca version of the Hero Twin story has the good twin throw his brother over the edge of the earth and that could be the action represented in this petroglyph (Collins 1972: 172).



Field recording of the tall figure on the east side of the South Boulder at the Wallen Creek Site.



Tracing of the petroglyphs on the west side of the South Boulder at the Wallen Creek Site. Diaz-Granados and Duncan (2000:Figure 5.47c) list this panel as one of a limited number that suggest sexual intercourse and this certainly appears to be the situation. The woman holds the double headed spear (or lightning). The woman figure measures 22 cm in height.

Among the sacred stories of the Hero Twins is the Iroquois tradition that the grandmother of the Hero Twins was Ata-en-sic (Iroquois, Sky Woman). The daughter of Sky Woman becomes magically pregnant while still a virgin (Brinton 1882: 54; Lynch 2010:54; Short 1877:275) and dies giving birth to the twins named Ioskeha (Iroquois, Sky-Holder/White One) and Tawiscara (Iroquois, Flint/Dark One). The Seneca believed the father of the Hero Twins to be the West Wind (Collins 1972:174) while Hall (1997:71) cites the Iroquois tradition that the conception came about as the result of two arrows (one flint tipped and the other only of sharpened wood) that Turtle had placed next to the sleeping virgin. It is possible that the petroglyphs on the South boulder at the Wallen Creek site could represent the conception of the Hero Twins.



Tracing of the petroglyphs and the prominent tinajitas (Spanish, basin feature) on the North Boulder at the Wallen Creek Site. The human figure measures 17 cm in height.

More than one explanation can be offered for the association of the tinajitas and the petroglyphs. First, the tinajitas become miniature water filled sinkholes during the Spring and Summer months. Water filled sinkholes can be considered as sacred locations by various Native American groups such as the people of the Huichol nation who leave sacred offerings at special water sources that they envision as the intersection of the underworld, earth and sky.

Second, the rock ribs that extend from the edge into the interior of the tinajitas resemble a puncture wound caused by a weapon. It is possible that the shaman who carved the petroglyphs identified this location as a place where a supernatural force/spirit had pierced/enterd the boulder.



Metric stick bridging from the South Boulder to the Initial Boulder at the Wallen Creek Site.



Field recording of the ADAM ELLIOT Boulder at the Wallen Creek Site. The capital letters measure 6 cm in height.



Tracing the outlines on the ADAM ELLIOT Boulder at the Wallen Creek Site. A faint petroglyph under the historic name inscription could be either a snake or lightning symbol.



Professor Michael Fuller is all smiles after being shown the Wallen Creek Site. Many thanks to Arthur Smith, and Lindel Barton for relocating the petroglyphs and helping with the tracings.


The Wallen Creek Site (23WA7) is discussed in the analysis of Missouri rock art by Carol Diaz-Granados (1993) and Diaz-Granados and Duncan (2000:118-9, 168; 2004:151, Figure 9.6a).

Brinton, Daniel G.
1882 American Hero Myths: a study in the Native Religions of the Western Continent. H. C. Watts & Co., Philadelphia.

Collins, Helen
1972 The League of the Iroquois. Western Pennsylvanian Historical Magazine 55(2): 171 - 178.

Diaz-Granados, Carol
1993 The Petroglyphs and Pictographs of Missouri: A Distributional, Stylistic, Contextual, Functional and Temporal Analysis of the State's Rock Graphics. Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Anthropology, Washington University , St. Louis, Missouri.

Diaz-Granados, Carol and James R. Duncan
2000 The Petroglyphs and Pictographs of Missouri. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa.

2004 Power, Wealth and Sex in Missouri Rock-Art. in The Rock-Art of Eastern North America. Edited by Carol Diaz-Granados and James R. Duncan. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa.

Dye, David H.
2015 Mortal Combat, Sacred Narratives, and Symbolic Weaponry. in Picture Cave: Unraveling the Mysteries of the
Mississippian Cosmos. Edited by Carol Diaz-Granados, James R. Duncan and F. Kent Reilly III. University of Texas Press, Austin.

Hall, Robert L.
1997 The Archaeology of the Soul: North American Indian Belief and Ritual. University of Illinois Press, Urbana.

Lankford, George E. (editor)
2011 Native American Legends of the Southeast. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa.

Lankford, George E. and David H. Dye
2014 Conehead effigies: A Distinctive Art Form of the Mississippi Valley. Arkansas Archeologist 53:37 - 49.

Lynch, Particia Ann
2010 Native American Mythology: A to Z. Chelsea House, New York.

Quintero, Carolyn
2009 Osage Dictionary. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman.

Short, John T.
1877 Culture-Heroes of the Americans. Appleton Journal 2:272 - 279.


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