MNCH Welcomes the Oregon Folklife Network

By Emily Hartlerode, Associate Director, Oregon Folklife Network
and Riki Saltzman, Executive Director, Oregon Folklife Network

Riki (left) and Emily The museum saw a significant expansion in 2018, when the Oregon Folklife Network (OFN) came on board as its newest division. The state’s folk and traditional arts program, OFN was established in 1977 to document, support, preserve, and celebrate Oregon’s folk traditions. The organization has been part of the University of Oregon since 2010. With our focus on cultural stewardship, OFN is a natural fit with the museum’s mission, and we’re excited to pool our resources in support of our state’s vibrant cultural life.  

OFN conducts statewide research to document Oregon’s wide variety of living cultural traditions—from Native American basket weaving and buckaroo gear making to African American hip hop and Mexican ballet folklórico. We collaborate with communities, organizations, and Tribes to create public programs and exhibits, enhance public collections, and provide research and other professional experiences for University of Oregon students. 

At the heart of OFN are four programs:

  • The Statewide Folklife Survey is a multi-year survey to identify and document culture keepers. Each year, OFN moves to a different region to discover the cultures and individuals that make Oregon distinct. An ongoing project, the folklife survey has so far identified 355 folk and traditional artists in five federally recognized Tribes and 28 counties.
  • The Oregon Culture Keepers Roster, with over 200 entries and another 75 in the pipe-line, provides online public access to folk and traditional artists interviewed in the statewide survey.
  • Culture Fest—a collaborative event following each regional survey—features artists and culture keepers in community performances, demonstrations, talks, and more.
  • The Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program supports master artists as they share their traditional knowledge and skills with apprentices from their own cultural group.

OFN logo

With a $55,000 Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, OFN recently embarked on a new leg of the folklife survey, this time focused on Oregon’s north and central coast. In August, folklorists Douglas Manger and Joseph O’Connell hit the road in search of culture keepers and artists among the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians and in communities of Clatsop, Tillamook, Lincoln, Lane and Douglas Counties.

Read about Douglas and Joseph’s adventures.



NEXT: Stories From the Field

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