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National Register of Historic Places Program

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.


Property Name Lawetlat'la
Reference Number 13000748
State Washington
County Skamania and Cowlitz
Town Cougar
Street Address Gifford Pinchot National Forest
Multiple Property Submission Name N/A
Status Listed 9/11/2013
Areas of Significance Native American Ethnic Heritage
Link to full file
Lawetlat'la (Mount St. Helens) is eligible for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places as a Traditional Cultural Property (TCP) under Criterion A because it is directly associated with the traditional beliefs of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and the Yakama Nation regarding origins, cultural history, and nature of the world. Those beliefs are rooted in tribal history and are important in maintaining the cultural continuity of the tribal community. The Cowlitz name for Mount St. Helens is Lawetlat'la, which roughly translates to "the smoker" (Kincade 2004). The name itself identifies the eruptive character of the mountain. Other names recorded for the mountain include nsh' ak'w from the Upper Chehalis people, which translates as ""water coming out,"" and aka akn, a Kiksht (upper Chinookan) term for "snow mountain" (Rob Moore, personal communication, 2001). Knowledge of the mountain, its creation, and behavior has been passed down through generations of Cowlitz and Y akama through an oral tradition of myths and legends. Lawetlat'la is one of the first landform features created by Spilyai, or Coyote, a key figure of their creation myths. Other myths inform them of the nature of the relation between people, their environment, and the sacred, and tell ofhow Lawetlat'la came to be imbued with spiritual power. The myths offer lessons regarding personal conduct and cultural ideals, providing a window into traditional worldviews, or perceptions of reality, both physical and spiritual. Though the myth is of central importance in relating Lawetlat'la to Cowlitz spiritual beliefs, other aspects of cultural identity, such as traditional practices and rituals, and historic accounts of the mountain reveal its cultural-historical significance.


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Properties are listed in the National Register of Historic Places under four criteria: A, B, C, and D. For information on what these criterion are and how they are applied, please see our Bulletin on How to Apply the National Register Criteria