The Hood River News, Hood River, OR., May 1, 1925, page 7
MORE HISTORY OF MEMALOOSE ISLAND
Oregon Agricultural College, Corvallis, April 21. - One
of the most historic of the ancient Indian burial grounds on the Columbia
River is Memaloose island, a few miles below The Dalles. The island, covering
about two acres in high water season, was an ideal cemetery, in that it was
not accessible to wild animals.
Such is the account of Professor J.B. Horoner, who recently made a trip with Gov. Pierce to Big Eddy to study the sun paintings on the cliffs of the Columbia there. He explains further:
"Memaloose Island was discovered in 1895 by Lewis and Clark on their way to the Pacific Ocean. It was called Memaloose Illahee by the Klickitat, meaning land of the dead. The explorers on that expedition found 13 vaults on this island, about eight feet square and six feet high, made of pine and cedar boards. The doors, opening towards the east, were made of wide boards, decorated with carved and painted figures of men and animals.
"In several of the huts the explorers found bodies carefully wrapped in skins, tied with bark and grass cords, lying on mats, always pointing east and west. Some of the huts contained human bones piled four feet high.
"On top of the vaults or on poles by the vaults were brass kettles, frying pans, bowls, sea shells, pieces of cloth, small bones - the offerings of friendship or affection for the dead.
"By the vaults were wooden images carved to resemble the departed. These images may have been the relics of totem worship. Nearby were half-decayed vaults which indicated that the island had been used as a burial place for a long period.
"Memaloose island is one of the attractions of the Columbia River, largely because of its prehistoric and historic interest. For a long distance may be seen of the white monument of Senator Victor Trevitt, the only white man buried on the island. A few bones and pieces of decayed vaults lie bleaching in the sandy soil over which the summer winds mournfully sing. On either side flows the Columbia, with the summits of Adams and Hood in the distance, grim reminders in their grandeur, of a vanished race, who paid fitting tribute to their dead."
© Jeffrey L. Elmer