Treaty of 1855 Conference, Museum at Warm Springs, Oct 25-27, 2018

Upon returning to work after attending the Middle Oregon Treaty of 1855 Conference, I am newly aware that I am returning to America after visiting the Warm Springs Nation; a sovereign nation that pre-existed the establishment of the United States, with inherent rights to their lands – including access to millions of acres ceded to the US through the Treaty for usual and customary practices like hunting and gathering. These rights are not only acknowledged, but protected by the Treaty, a nation-to-nation agreement with the same legally and ethically binding strength and significance as other international treaties.

Photo by Edward Curtis

The original document resides in a climate-controlled vault in the National Archives in Washington DC, however it is temporarily on display at the Museum at Warm Springs through Nov 3, 2018. This unique access to the Treaty parallels the Museum’s celebration of its 25th Anniversary, and spurred tribal leadership to coordinate the Treaty Conference from Oct 25-27. Many Native and non-native allies came together to better understand the historical context that established the Treaty; to reflect on the renewed growth and development of tribal governance despite the overwhelming loss of language, cultural practices, lands and people; and to imagine and plan for a future beyond indigenous survival, to one of thriving.

Warm Springs Tribal Council member, Valerie Switzler (Director of Cultural and Heritage Language Programs), invited Oregon Folklife Network to interview participants and document their reflections and reactions. Of high importance to her was engaging tribal youth in the process. OFN was honored by the invitation and donated our time in sponsorship of the event. With the help of superintendent Ken Parshall, we reached out to OFN’s Fieldschool alumni, and Warm Springs sophomores Dylan Heath, Taya Holiday, and Kathryce Danuka attended on Friday and took leadership roles in running the video camera, asking thoughtful questions, and ensuring that release forms were returned. They showed great respect and professionalism, though I was delighted to see them relax into some light-hearted teenager fun after their work was through.

With their help, OFN gathered interviews spanning a variety of perspectives, from NARF lawyer (and former UO Duck) Charles Wilkinson, to elder and language teacher Arlita Rhoan. The multi-talented incoming Executive Director of the Museum at Warm Springs (and former Poet Laureate) Elizabeth Woody expertly coordinated this important event, and graciously provided her reflections for this record, all of which is going back to the Tribal Archives. The thoughts they all shared co-mingle with my own reflections, even as the days between me and the event grow. I yearn for more time to steep in my feelings and better understand and act on my sense of urgency to respond. But I am back in America now. Although their prayer songs fade in my ears, the people of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, and those from the 500+ sovereign nations who uphold their agreement to permit US activities on lands that have been theirs since time immemorial, sing often and sing strong.

A trip to the Museum today will offer you a once in a lifetime opportunity to view six original pages of the handwritten 1855 Treaty, and the lifelong gift of a deeper understanding of an historical agreement between nations that continues to be of great significance today and always.

Update from Four Rivers Cultural Center

Josh Chrysler, Four Rivers Cultural Center Staff Folklorist

from left: Emily West Hartlerode, Bradford McMullen, Josh Chrysler, Riki Saltzman, and Steven Hatcher festival hosting, 4Rivers Cultural Center, June 23, 2018.

 

I had a busy winter and spring as the contract staff folklorist for the Four Rivers Cultural Center in Ontario, Oregon. Through funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, I have been able to continue my work to develop programs celebrating and supporting folklife and traditional culture in eastern Oregon.  This past year, I developed both an exhibit on regional folklife and a day-long folklife festival.

The exhibit, Buckaroo and Ranching Folklife of the Four Rivers Region, features traditional arts and skills associated with buckaroos and the ranching world. Crafts such as silversmithing, rawhide braiding, and saddle making each have qualities specific to this corner of the world. This exhibit was based on my own fieldwork, previous OFN fieldwork, and a smaller Buckaroo exhibit that Adrienne Decker developed during her Summer Folklife Fellowship at OFN. At this writing, the exhibit is on view at the Four Rivers Cultural Center. In the future, Four Rivers plans to travel the exhibit to other local and regional museums, libraries, and schools.

Following the theme of regional culture, I also developed a day-long Tradition Keeper’s Folklife Festival, held Saturday, June 23rdat the Four Rivers Cultural Center. This extremely rural region nourishes an incredible diversity of folklife, which we worked to represent in our programming. The festival brought in many of the buckaroo artists featured in the exhibit to demonstrate their various traditions, which ranged from Western saddle making and Paiute basketry to foodways from Japanese mochi and to Basque paella. Meanwhile, multiple performance areas featured traditional artists and their verbal or musical traditions including cowboy poetry, Mexican dance, Japanese Taiko drumming, and Paiute storytelling. Thanks to these culture keepers, the Four Rivers staff, OFN staff, and folklorist Steven Hatcher of the Idaho Commission on the Arts—

all of whom helped facilitate the event—400-500 visitors interacted with and learned from community members and neighbors who practice traditional arts and skills.

Fortunately, we have secured funding from the NEA to continue this project, and planning for a Tradition Keepers Folklife Festival (Saturday, June 29, 2019) is underway. I am heading back to eastern Oregon to continue fieldwork and to identify additional traditional artists to feature at next year’s Festival. Stay tuned for more information as this project continues to develop!

Oregon artist awarded highest national honor in Folk and Traditional Arts

Emily West Hartlerode, OFN associate director

Palestinian embroiderer, Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim (middle), received one of only nine 2018 National Heritage Fellowship Awards. From left to right, NEA Chairman, Mary Anne Carter; Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim; NEA Folk & Traditional Arts director, Cliff Murphy.

September 26, 2018 marked an important event for OFN and for the state of Oregon, as one of our most talented culture keepers, Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim, received her National Heritage Fellowshipaward at our nation’s Capital. The NEA awarded Abbasi-Ghnaim the highest award the U.S. bestows upon traditional artists for her dedication to Palestinian Embroidery. Beyond being a master of this art form, Abbasi-Ghnaim is also dedicated to teaching and mentoring younger generations, including her own daughters, passing along not only the artistic knowledge but also the stories and history behind the patterns, colors, and designs. Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim, has received many Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Master artist awards from OFN and the former Oregon Folklife Program at the Oregon Historical Society.

Abbasi-Ghnaim’s nomination represents a massive OFN team effort that Hillary Tully, last year’s talented Folklore graduate intern, coordinated, and OFN’s executive director, Riki Saltzman guided. We pulled in letters of support from as far away as Paris and London, and engaged the invaluable assistance of Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim’s daughter Wafa Ghnaim; her photos and stories of her mother’s workwere critical to this effort.

Accompanied by her sister, three daughters (one from Germany), and three grandchildren, Abbasi-Ghnaim accepted her medal from NEA Chairman, Mary Anne Carter, and Folk & Traditional Arts director, Cliff Murphy. To watch her heartfelt acceptance speech, click here.

A reception and banquet followed in the ornate Great Hall of the Library of Congress where one of Governor Kate Brown’s staff was in attendance to personally congratulate Abbasi-Ghnaim. Two nights later, the nine awardees took their turns on stage. Abbasi-Ghnaim explained her tradition art, showed examples, and described how Palestinian embroidery employs traditional designs to convey cultural meaning and messages among women.

It was an honor to witness Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim share her tradition and thank the American people for valuing the diversity of cultures that make us unique as individuals and bring us together as a rich nation of people from around the world. We are proud of Oregon’s NHF awardee, grateful for the opportunity to nominate her for this recognition and overjoyed by the outpouring of support that rained down upon Abbasi-Ghnaim from so many elected government officials, friends, and family.

Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim’s family celebrating the honor with her.

Letter of congratulations from Oregon’s Governor Kate Brown.

FY19 Funding: NEA Folk & Traditional Arts Partnership Award to OFN with additional funding from the Oregon Arts Commission, Oregon Cultural Trust, the Oregon Community Foundation’s Fred W. Fields Fund, and the Oregon Historical Society

Riki Saltzman, OFN executive director

The Oregon Folklife Network is thrilled to announce that the National Endowment for the Arts has awarded $40,000 to the Oregon Folklife Network for FY19 to support ourTraditional Arts Apprenticeship Program, Culture Fest, and partnerships with Oregon cultural organizations. Additional funding from the Oregon Arts Commission ($35,000), Oregon Cultural Trust ($20,000), and the Oregon Community Foundation’s Fred W. Fields Fund ($20,000) as well as the Oregon Historical Society ($15,000) and ongoing support from the University of Oregon make it possible for us to support 8 TAAP teams, 6 Culture Fests in regions where we’ve been conducting our statewide folklife survey, and a spring 2019 gathering of Oregon’s TAAP masters. This support also helps us to support the ever-growing Culture Keepers Roster, and an ongoing partnership with eastern Oregon’s Four Rivers Cultural Center.

 

We’ll be announcing our FY19 TAAP teams soon along with our call for new applications for FY20!