Native Salem exhibit opens to the Public November 12th 2021

This summer I was approached by the Bush Art Museum to do something for Native American month. Over the period of several months discussion we centered the exhibit themes on a few Native stories directly related to Salem. I wrote out those themes over the course of a few days and then we began picking images for the exhibit. What emerged was a mostly narrative driven exhibit with some images to support the narrative. This was decided even though the majority of exhibitions are light on words and image heavy. But the nature of the early history of Salem, Oregon has been obscured for so long the the museum staff decided it was fine to lead with accurate and compelling stories in this first exhibit of its type at the Bush Art Museum.

The exhibition joins two permanent exhibits currently up in the Willamette Valley, the Kalapuyans exhibit at the Willamette Heritage Center, at the Methodist Parsonage, and another Kalapuyan exhibit at the Linn County Historical Society Museum in Brownsville, both curated by me with co-curators Tom Connolly and Paul Baxter for the Linn county offering. The exhibits center the perspectives and histories of the Kalapuyans as much as possible.

Sample Handout at Sample handout at Bush Art Museum-

These exhibits, along with the Kalapuyans Land exhibit I contributed to, two years ago at the Five Oaks Museum in Washington County, curated by Stephanie Littlebird Fogel (Grand Ronde), have taught me a lot about the power of the Kalapuyans stories in this valley. I hope to address more oral histories and historical narratives through exhibits in the future, in places like Eugene, Cottage Grove, and Portland. Through these exhibits I am helping to correct the history of my tribe.

The Native Salem exhibit seems to me more like a blueprint for how to do similar exhibits for towns in the region. It is built around stories of the native peoples in the local area and also constructed to travel afterwards. I hope it travels to libraries and other museums in Marion county in the next few years. There are additional stories that can be written for Corvallis, Portland, Oregon City, Silverton, Newberg, and Eugene and other small and large towns in the region.



Essays that led to this exhibit can be read on the Quartux Journal.


I want to thank the all of the Bush Staff for working with me, being open to uncomfortable discussions and producing such professional quality images and products for the exhibit.



%d bloggers like this: