Public art and educational events honor the culture of Indigenous peoples
At a City Council meeting Nov. 13, Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis signed a proclamation recognizing November 2023 as Native American Heritage Month. The Mayor also encouraged community members to recognize and support the history, cultures and sovereignty of Indigenous peoples in Oregon and around the globe.
In honor of the proclamation, City of Eugene Cultural Services is promoting many opportunities to celebrate the heritage of Native Americans in our region and to learn more about their rich history through a series of free events and public art installations. Here are some highlights that will be available throughout the month of November and the first week of December:
- Nov. 1–20, Atrium Building (99 W. 10th Ave.): view “Oregon is Indian Country,” a traveling exhibit created by Oregon Tribe Project from a multi-year collaboration between Oregon Historical Society’s former Folklife Program and the nine federally recognized tribes in Oregon. The exhibit consists of three large vibrant panels of text and photography about the nine tribes. From Nov. 27–Dec. 3, the exhibit will be on display at the Farmers Market Pavilion.
- 6–7 p.m., Dec. 1, Atrium Building: as part of the Communities of Color and Allies Network First Friday Event, Tribal historian and Oregon State University Professor David Lewis will share emerging research on the Indigenous histories of Eugene. Lewis is a citizen of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, a descendant of the Takelma, Chinook, Molalla and Santiam Kalapuya peoples.
- 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Dec. 3, Farmers Market Pavilion (85 E. 8th Ave.): the Eugene Native American Arts and Crafts Market returns for its monthly gathering of Native American and Indigenous artists and crafters. The market’s mission is to provide a safe and supportive venue for the creativity of these skilled artisans. Visitors can support the market by shopping for authentic beadwork, jewelry, graphic arts and clothing.
- Don Dexter Gallery (2911 Tennyson Ave.): Indigenous artists are invited to apply for the 2024 Emerging Indigenous Artist Series. This series offers established and emerging artists the opportunity to participate in a curated group exhibition at the Indigenous-owned Don Dexter Gallery in Eugene. Submissions are welcome in ceramics, drawing, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, weaving and mixed media. Interested artists can apply by Feb. 1 at www.dondextergallery.com/eias.
- Alton Baker Park: visitors to the Whilamut Natural Area of the park can take a self-guided tour of the Talking Stones collection. The permanent collection consists of 15 basalt boulders carved with Yoncalla Kalapuya words, created to revive the Kalapuya language and honor Indigenous culture.
- Downtown Riverfront Park: “Culture Raising” is a temporary public art project along a 100-foot fence in the park. The artwork brings awareness to the Native American people and history in our region with larger-than-life faces of Indigenous community members. Half of each elder’s face is matched with a youth or young adult face, representing the past, present and future of the cultures and emphasizing unity. The exhibit will remain on display until the next phase of riverfront development is completed.
- Farmers Market Pavilion: presented in partnership with Five Oaks Museum, “This IS Kalapuyan Land” acts as both a museum exhibition title and land acknowledgement. The exhibit consists of multiple trifold pillars that declare the perpetual stewardship of the Kalapuyan people.
- Downtown Eugene Public Library: look an additional pillar from the “This IS Kalapuya Land” exhibit in the library entry garden, plus displays of recommended fiction and non-fiction books about Native American culture on the library’s second and third floors.
For more details about these events and to learn more about educational opportunities and partner organizations that support and preserve Native American heritage, visit www.eugene-or.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=6302
Cultural Services provides year-round programming to promote public art and cultural events throughout Eugene. The team utilizes responsible and catalytic leadership to support the public’s vision for a thriving arts and cultural sector that contributes to the community’s social and economic wellbeing.