Installed just last week (9/4/2015) at the Ike [Box] is a new exhibit I collaborated on with the Friday Artists group from Salem. This exhibit is the first part of a larger project to bring more representations of Native people to Salem, the Capitol of Oregon. I hope to continue working with the group in this larger project.
In about 1997, I met Loren Bommelyn as he began a Masters degree in Linguistics at the University of Oregon. For his second and last year I was his roommate on in a University of Oregon Moss Street graduate house. Loren and his family were very giving of their time and I grew to appreciate their positivism while I was engaged in my Masters studies (the Masters and PhD studies would eventually lead to me becoming the Cultural Resources Manager at my tribe, the Grand Ronde Tribe). Loren had almost single-handedly built the Nelechundun Dancehouse at Smith River, and preserved their language, brought back dancing and singing in the traditional language and songs. Loren wrote the Tolowa Dictionary and devised a new language preservation technique, which is now called the Master-Apprentice system and was implemented at the University of California, Berkeley, which teams elder language speakers with apprentices who become fluent in the program.
Tilikum Crossing Bridge is a amazing beacon for Native people. The return of native names to the public consciousness is invaluable to all people of the region. For so long Native presence within their own lands was ignored and invisible on the landscape. Much of the land was renamed with American, British, French or Spanish names, and so many of the original native names were forgotten for 160 years.
On August 3, 2015 I took a trip to visit Canemah Natural Park in the Canemah Historic Neighborhood. The area is part of Oregon City.
I was interested to see how the park was shaping up. Two years ago I was involved in helping design at least two of the interpretive signs with the team from METRO for this new park that overlooks Willamette Falls.
This essay is inspired by the title of the book, “Prisons We Choose to Live Inside” by Doris Lessing, I read some years ago. I have to confess I did not read the whole book, but I did not really have to, the title alone is the inspiration.
Since the beginning of contact, Europeans and later Americans began to move into our lands and sought ways to manage and control the indigenous peoples. This management has taken the form of treaties, removal, and reservations. Tribal peoples learned to live within a number of reservations, many of them imposed upon us and many we have chosen to accept as part of our culture.