First Peoples Fund Honors TAAP and Roster Artist, Roberta J. Kirk

Congratulations to Roberta J. Kirk for her First Peoples Fund Community Spirit Award! This award honors Roberta Kirk for her beautiful traditional beadwork and regalia as well as her devotion and service to her community and tribe. She has been a master artist in OFN’s Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program and is on the Culture Keepers Roster.

(Rapid City, SD) – First Peoples Fund, a national organization supporting Native American artists and culture bearers, has named four outstanding individuals from across the country as recipients of the 2020 Jennifer Easton Community Spirit Award. A nationwide committee selected the honorees, and the prestigious award includes a $7,500 grant.

“Throughout their lives these culture bearers have quietly, selflessly shared their knowledge, skills and traditions,” says Lori Pourier, president of First Peoples Fund. “Through the Community Spirit Awards, First Peoples Fund honors their generosity and shines a light on their work to restore and pass on ancestral knowledge and traditions, connecting their peoples to their greatest assets.”

Award recipients come from a wide range of tribes and creative disciplines:

  • Roberta Kirk (Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon/Diné) Warm Springs, Oregon– beadwork, leatherwork, fashion design, culinary arts
  • Corine Pearce (Redwood Valley Rancheria Little River Band of Pomo Indians) Sequim, Washington – basketry, weaving
  • Virgil “Smoker” Marchand (Colville Tribe/Arrow Lakes) Omak, Washington – painting, sculpture
  • TahNibaa Naataanii (Navajo) Shiprock, New Mexico – weaving

Named after First Peoples Fund’s founder, the Jennifer Easton Community Spirit Award (CSA) recognizes exceptional artists who have shown a continued commitment to perpetuating their art and sharing it within their communities. These practicing artists embody the Collective Spirit®, and are nominated for the award by their students, mentees, fellow artists and community members.

First Peoples Fund is a national organization based in Rapid City, South Dakota dedicated to honoring and supporting Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian artists and culture bearers across the country. First Peoples Fund has been honoring culture bearers with the Community Spirit Award for over 20 years and over 100 artists from Maine to Alaska have been honored.

For further information about First Peoples Fund or to apply for support through one of our programs, please visit  or contact us at First Peoples Fund, P.O. Box 2977, Rapid City, SD 57709-2977.

Contact: Amber Hoy, Program Manager of Fellowships (605) 348 – 0324

Media Corner: Folklife Fieldwork in Northwest Oregon, Student Photo Essay

UO Folklore graduate students Christal Snyder and Iris Teeuwen conducted fieldwork in Clatsop County with OFN Director, Riki Saltzman, and contract folklorist Douglas Manger (August 23-25, 2019). Christal Snyder also accompanied Saltzman and contract folklorist Joe O’Connell (UO Folklore alumni) in Lincoln County, August 9-11.

In Clatsop County, we observed Finnish traditions, foodways, and seaways, while in Lincoln County we experienced chainsaw carving, the Siletz Pow-Wow, and waterways traditions. Those interactive and behind-the-scenes experiences that folklorists in the field get to experience are priceless. We are most grateful to the UO Folklore and Public Culture program, which funded our graduate student fieldwork internship travel expenses.

Lincoln County: August 9-11

Christal and Riki met up with Joe in Seal Rock (Lincoln County), where we interviewed Karl Kowalski, a second-generation chainsaw carver. Karl’s shop was rich with history and fun to photograph. He quickly warmed up to us and had an engaging sense of humor. By way of explaining how he got started in this business, Karl told us that his father managed a sideshow attraction behind a shop full of whimsical chainsaw carvings. While Karl devotes most of a room of his shop to his father’s carvings, his own designs possessed a character of their own. Everywhere you look, there are carved bears of all shapes and sizes as well as other critters scattered throughout the shop. Each of Karl’s creatures has a personality of its own.

Second-generation chainsaw carver Karl Kowalski in front of his shop – photo by Christal Snyder

Father and son wooden carving in front of Kowalski’s shop – photo by Christal Snyder

Carved Viking couple – photo by Christal Snyder

Wooden bears welcome visitors to Kowalski’s – photo by Christal Snyder

Inside the shop are shelves full of different types of bear carvings – photo by Christal Snyder

The next day Christal, Riki, and Joe got an early start and attended the annual Nesika Illahee Pow-Wow, which began with a parade. Members of the Confederated Tribe of Siletz Indians wore their traditional handmade regalia, walked or rode in artfully decorated cars, and threw candy and other treats to the crowds stretched along the parade grounds.

Veterans traditionally lead pre-Pow-WOW parades – photo by Christal Snyder

Siletz Pow-Wow princesses wave to the parade-goers – photo by Christal Snyder

Young women and children in traditional regalia – photo by Christal Snyder

Next, we headed to the Pow-Wow. The rich smell of fried, grilled, and stewed food drew us to the vendor area that encircled the Pow-Wow grounds. We had to try out the local Indian tacos, made of fresh fry bread piled with sautéed ground beef and topped with chopped onions, salsa, and tomatoes. Craft vendors were interspersed with food booths, and folks from tribes near and far sold jewelry, hand-tooled leatherwork, traditional clothing, and more; a Navajo woman was selling intricate beadwork.

The afternoon’s formal events opened with a salute to the flag; veterans lead the procession as the Pow-Wow MC asked everyone to stand and remove their hats. A series of different dances for different age groups and genders followed.

Young boys participate in the Pow-Wow – photo by Christal Snyder

A group of young adults and children enter the Pow-Wow – photo by Christal Snyder

Several drum groups took turns accompanying the dances and setting the rhythm.

A drum with several men or boys who simultaneously sing and drum– photo by Christal Snyder

A young woman in her jingle dress – photo by Christal Snyder










On our last day in Lincoln County, we strolled along the fishing docks and then visited the Pacific Maritime Heritage Center in Newport. There we wandered through a fascinating exhibit on shrimping, a larger room that detailed the heritage of Oregon’s northern coast, halls full of local paintings, and a beautiful space for public events and screenings. It also allowed us to learn more about the region, and we found out that surfing has a long history in the area. We connected with executive director, Steve Wyatt, who was as enthusiastic as we were about developing future partnerships.

Newport Harbor and bridge – photo by Christal Snyder

Newport fishing docks – photo by Christal Snyder

Astoria – Clatsop Co: August 23-25, 2019

Iris Teeuwen and Christal Snyder accompanied Riki Saltzman to Astoria (August 23-25), which is situated at the mouth of the Columbia River. We met up with folklorist Douglas Manger, who had been contracted to document traditions in Clatsop County, among others. Our time with Douglas was packed with hands-on opportunities.

View of a harbor and the Astoria-Megler Bridge – photo by Iris Teeuwen

Our first stop was the Columbia River Maritime Museum, where we met with assistant curator, Matthew Palmgren. Palmgren gave us historical background on the region and took us through a huge warehouse full of historic fishing boats.

Columbia River Maritime Museum – photo by Christal Snyder

The “Duke” awaits repair in the Columbia River Maritime Museum boat storage unit– photo by Christal Snyder








After a tour of the archives and a stop at the Museum gift shop, we drove over to Andy Carlson’s house and fish-smoking shed where we interviewed Carlson and grandson Aleks Matthews about Finnish traditions. Douglas asked Iris and Christal to take the lead interviewing Aleks about Finnish saunas, a traditional feature of most Finnish- American homes in Astoria. Aleks told us about visiting his grandparents every Sunday for traditional food and family time in the sauna. We truly valued the experience of coming up with questions on the spot, a skill that all folklore fieldworkers must learn. We got to tour Andy’s sauna and smokehouse, and he put out a generous spread of his smoked salmon, tuna, and elk for us to sample. While we ate, Andy told us stories about what it was like to grow up Finnish-American in the area, which involved not only family gatherings but also a variety of community events—including concerts, plays, dances, and meals—at the Finnish Brotherhood’s Suomi Hall.

Andy Carlson in his garden in front of his heavily laden apple tree – photo by Iris Teeuwen

Carlson’s Finnish smokehouse – photo by Christal Snyder

Cold-smoked salmon – photo by Iris Teeuwen

Iris Teeuwen interviews Aleks Matthews in his family sauna – photo by Christal Snyder

Andy Carlson explains how to use the Finnish sauna – photo by Christal Snyder










The next morning, we met with Beth Kondall, one of the skilled traditional bakers at Astoria’s Blue Scorcher Bakery. We had the opportunity to engage in participant-observation fieldwork by not only interviewing and photographing, Beth, but also helping Beth prepare a variety of Finnish pastries and breads. The highlight was braiding and glazing pulla, a traditional Finnish cardamom-flavored sweet bread traditionally served with coffee—a practice so customary that the rich bread is often called coffee bread. The next day, after serving us some pulla to go with our coffee, Beth gifted us with the loaves we had braided.

(L to R) Christal, Beth, Riki, Douglas. Beth shows Riki how to braid pulla while Douglas and Christal document – photo by Iris Teeuwen

Beth braids the buttery pulla dough – photo by Christal Snyder


Beth shows off the braided pulla before she puts in in the warming oven to rise one more time before baking – photo by Iris Teeuwen

Beth sections off dough for fruit tarts – photo by Christal Snyder

Beth had Iris, Christal, and Riki fill the pastries prior to baking – photo by Christal Snyder







After our bakery visit, we drove over to Suomi Hall, the center for the historic Finnish Brotherhood in Astoria. There we interviewed Dea Helligso, Helen Pitkanen, and other women from the Finnish community about their traditions, history, and ancestors’ migration to northwest Oregon.

Christal and Iris interview Finnish Brotherhood members at Suomi Hall – photo by Riki Saltzman

We certainly did not lack for food on this trip! Our generous hosts treated us to a freshly baked pannukakku, a “pancake” served with raspberry sauce – photo by Riki Saltzman









Next, we drove over to the Columbia River Bar Pilot office where we spoke with retired bar pilot, Robert Johnson. One of the most dangerous occupations in the world, bar pilots are responsible for taking ships from the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean—over the ever-changing Columbia River Bar. A bar pilot has to know every inch of land and water, be able to read weather changes, and know whether or not to risk the dangerous crossing. Johnson has a lifetime full of fascinating information on maritime logistics and experiences, and his personal charisma makes him a compelling storyteller.

Columbia River Bar Pilots’ building, where we interviewed Robert Johnson – photo by Iris Teeuwen

Robert Johnson (left) talks to folklorist Douglas Manger (right) – photo by Riki Saltzman

Miniature pilot boat – photo by Iris Teeuwen

Actual pilot boat on the Columbia River – photo by Riki Saltzman

A typical container ship awaiting cargo on the Columbia River. The pilot boat goes out to the ship, where the Bar Pilot climbs a long rope ladder to board and take the ship across the Bar – photo by Christal Snyder

Douglas had to tear us away from our session with Robert Johnson to get to Helen Pitkanen’s house on time. A no-nonsense woman of many talents, Helen immediately put Iris and Christal to work to help her make a traditional Finnish rice pudding.

Christal getting instructions from Helen Pitkanen – photo by Riki Saltzman

Finished rice pudding with cherry preserves – photo by Riki Saltzman










In between stints of stirring the thickening pudding, Helen showed us her paintings and her collections, including a handcrafted Finnish basket.

Traditional Finnish Basket (top and side views) at the Pitkanen house – photos by Christal Snyder

With full stomachs from enjoying Helen’s creamy rice pudding topped with her yummy cherry preserves, we went back to our hotel to rest up for the evening’s activities. Our new friends at Suomi Hall invited us to a local theatrical performance where we learned more about the early Finnish immigrants and their connection to Astoria’s fishing, canning, and logging industries.

We spent our final day in Brownesmead, where we interviewed Delwin Barnsde a net maker and mender, hunter, boat builder, and more. Barnsde spent his life fishing, and now lives in his handcrafted roundhouse on a tributary of the Columbia River. Besides fishing and net mending, a critical skill for fishermen, Barnsde is a hunter and a master duck decoy carver who has taught others this traditional craft.

Delwin Barnsde with a photo collage – photo by Iris Teeuwen

Delwin Barnsde’s roundhouse exterior – photo by Christal Snyder

View of the river from the Barnsde’s deck – photo by Christal Snyder

One of Barnsde’s nets, which he is in the process of mending– photo by Christal Snyder



A Barnsde’s hand-carved duck decoy – photo by Iris Teeuwen.

Duck hunting boat – photo by Christal Snyder

Crawfish trap – photo by Christal Snyder







Our Astoria weekend with Douglas Manger gave us a new perspective on fieldwork that we would have never gotten otherwise. Instead of simply observing or studying in a classroom, we got to experience conducting interviews and gained invaluable hands-on experience. All the tradition keepers we met were extremely kind and welcoming. We learned so much about their culture and traditions, and we left with fond memories of our time in the field as folklorists.

Clatsop County Fieldwork

Douglas Manger

Like a twisting myrtlewood tree growing close by the sea, Highway 101 makes its way in circuitous fashion along Oregon’s spectacular Pacific coastline. During the month of August, Joe O’Connell and I trekked this evocative route, flush with names that spark imaginings of what folkways might be found in places like Winchester Bay, Dunes City, Yachats, Seal Rock, Neskowin, Manzanita, Astoria.

Persist and you will find tradition keepers at every turn. Clatsop County’s Andy Carlson is one of them. Bent slightly with age, Carlson can often be found out back tending salmon sides in his home-built smokehouse. Like many in and around Astoria, his ancestry is part Finnish, part Swedish. Look at Carson’s hands, they speak volumes of a life shaped by tradition on the Columbia River. He was a tug boater for 12 years and a pilot boat owner/operator for 32 years. Watch his hands. Carlson skillfully fillets, cures, then hot or cold smokes sides of salmon that many locals call the best around. That spelled eight years of trial and error with regular visits to his mentor (now passed)—a master at smoking salmon—before the acknowledgment came, “I think you’ve got it.”

Andy filleting a salmon

Andy’s grilled cedar plank salmon

Smoking salmon sides, Andy’s smokehouse

How do we find such special tradition keepers? Serendipity plays a role. Scout the main mercantile street in Astoria, introduce yourself to Saara Matthews at Finn Ware, explain the project, and voila: “My father, Andy Carlson, is someone you might find interesting.”

Like that wind-twisted myrtlewood tree, generational traditions don’t always come down in a straight line. For Sandra Porter it was her grandmother who instilled in her a love of cooking and making do. At the Porter’s farmstand near Cloverton, at what was once her grandparent’s farm, you’ll get a feel for her grandmother’s influence: fresh cut flowers for sale, along with produce from their garden; fresh fish from Waylon Porter’s morning dory run; bulbs from the countless varieties her grandparents planted across the road in the 1990s; ice cream, and, oh, yes, Sandra Porter’s famous pies! Be it winter or summer, once the word is out on Facebook, her pies—marionberry, strawberry, apple crumble pie, to name a few—literally fly off the shelf.

A favorite is pumpkin pie made with green, home-grown, Jarrahdale pumpkins that top 50 pounds. Once cut into large wedges Porter roasts them in the oven to give the pie “another elevation of flavor.”

To make food, to cook for people, is just a really great way to show people that you love them, and you care about them. And people, people need that right now. Everybody needs nourished and they need more love.”


Sandra’s homemade pies

Sandra’s variety of pies for sale

Why the popularity of Carlson’s smoked salmon or Porter’s homemade pies? In each instance, under the watchful eye of an elder, they had a starting point from which to learn and to grow—and by introducing their own preferences—to make the making their own.

Given their heartfelt connections to the past, within this context their methodologies spark a duality, providing nourishment on the one hand and emotional sustenance on the other. It then becomes not just a smoked salmon or a homemade pie—it becomes “Andy Carson’s special smoked salmon” and “Sandra Porter’s special homemade pies” in all their resonance with a nod from generations past.

Douglas Manger is a career folklorist with over 20 years of experience. Since 2014 he has collaborated with OFN on folklife surveys in Southeastern Oregon (Malheur and Harney counties); the High Desert region, 2016 (Deschutes, Crook, Baker, Union); Portland Metro region, 2016 (Yamhill and Clackamas); and in August of this year, the Oregon coast (Douglas, Tillamook, Clatsop). Early in his career, Manger directed the Northern Tier Cultural Alliance in Pennsylvania. He later managed folk and traditional arts programming at Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation in Baltimore serving nine states and jurisdictions. At Mid Atlantic, Manger project managed the award-winning publication, From Bridge to Boardwalk: An Audio Journey Across Maryland’s Eastern Shore. In 2007, Manger returned home to Texas to found HeritageWorks. HeritageWorks has since conducted multi-year regional folklife field surveys in South and East Texas for the Institute of Texan Cultures in San Antonio, and in Baton Rouge and vicinity for the Louisiana Folklife Program.

Sharing the Tides: Notes on Community and Culture in Three Oregon Coast Counties

Joseph O’Connell

On the central and northern parts of the Oregon coast, worlds meet—land and sea, work and leisure, old and new. In social and cultural terms, no place evokes the region’s contrasts more than Newport’s historic bayfront. Along a short strip of Bay Boulevard, commercial fishing, ocean science, and tourism intermingle. Visitors can buy taffy and souvenirs, visit the wax museum, or descend to an underwater viewing platform. Yet they are never more than a few doors away from one of several seafood processing plants. On the street outside the plants, cautionary signals from forklift operators blend with the vocalizations of an urban sea lion colony. (These animals are either endearing or aggravating; it depends who you ask.) A few yards farther, homemade signs indicate which boats have fresh catches of albacore tuna or Dungeness crab.

A flier on a Newport pier connects commercial fishers to scientific researchers.

Throughout the region, this intimacy of differing communities is the substance of everyday life. Environmental researchers share space with natural resource industries. Spiritual seekers rub elbows with scrappy entrepreneurs. Cold-water surfers cross paths with razor clam diggers. They may look to the ocean for different things, but they all rely on the same tide tables. Sometimes, even the people who live here seem a bit perplexed by the region’s stranger bedfellows. In a casual conversation at a fabrication shop in Waldport, an independent fisher posits that the region “attracts extremes”—extremes of lifestyle and extremes of political persuasion (he’s a progressive.) But he can’t reflect for long; he’s got hundreds of pounds of freshly-caught tuna in tow, and it’s a hot day.

Amidst this mix, creative traditions are one way that the communities of the coast “talk” about who they are. In the crucible of the modern fishing industry, for instance, people who work together forge an array of hard-won customs: techniques for “hanging gear,” methods of preparing salmon cheeks, convictions about good luck. “Never, ever bring a banana onboard a fishing boat,” warns Florence’s Amber Novelli (if you’ve got a banana on board you won’t catch anything). Such traditions function partly as a running commentary about what defines a group, a place, or its history. It’s a commentary that takes place not just within groups, as it does among fishers, but also between them. In Newport, it’s not uncommon for scientists and fishers to meet over beers, trading jokes and points of view about their shared workplace on the Pacific Ocean. Sara Skamser designs, ties, and modifies nets for clients on both sides of that pub table. On a slow day, she might also improvise a quick rope hanger for a tourist who wanders into her shop with a glass float.

Net maker and designer Sara Skamser pauses by the work in progress at her shop, Foulweather Trawl.


A shrimp net, outfitted with a custom “excluder,” awaits repairs outside Foulweather Trawl on Yaquina Bay in Newport.










Lots of traditions “root” people in this part of the coast, but being rooted means something different in each case. When Highway 101 travelers pull over at Karl Kowalski’s chainsaw carving workshop in Seal Rock, they enter a personal museum.

Second-generation Seal Rock chainsaw carver Karl Kowalski poses beside one of his father’s sculptures.

Karl displays not just the work he has for sale but also carvings and memorabilia from a previous era. He inherited these artifacts from his father, who first established the property as Sea Gulch—a sculpture garden and roadside attraction. The items in Karl’s space reflect an attitude about belonging and tell a bigger story about his place in the life of a family, a town, and a region.

Northeast of Newport on Government Hill in Siletz, the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians hosts its annual Nesika Illahee Pow-Wow.

“Fancy” dancers compete in the youth category at the Nesika Illahee Pow-Wow.

On the lawn at the center of the Pow-Wow grounds, dancers from numerous tribes don regalia and compete for prize money. One event, the Women’s Basketcap Special, showcases an iconic form of Siletz material culture–traditional hats woven from natural materials. For the Siletz and other indigenous people of the region, cultural traditions like the Pow-Wow take on significance against a long history and display resilience over colonization and its legacies.

Across Oregon coastal communities, people also adapt cultural traditions to respond to contemporary concerns, especially ecological ones. At the Women’s Expression Session on Agate Beach, two surfers dress as sea fowl and perform an original rap about beach stewardship. In the thick of the parade that opens the Nesika Illahee Pow-Wow, participants carry signs that protest mismanagement of a sewage spill on the Siletz River. And at Foulweather Trawl in Newport, “trawl techs” apply their tying skills to make nets “fish cleaner” with the addition of modifications that minimize “bycatch”—those fish that fishers don’t intend to catch. Whether it’s surfing, fishing, or regalia-making, longstanding cultural forms have an intimate connection to the natural environment. Such creative traditions also function to defend that environment.

Joe O’Connell has ten years of public folklore experience spanning studies of vernacular music, laborlore, and material culture.  He completed an MA in Folklore at the University of Oregon in 2009, and fieldwork on the Oregon Coast marks his second collaboration with the OFN, this time in Lincoln and Clatsop counties, the coastal section of Lane County, and with the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians. Along with Josephine McRobbie, Joe is a 2019 American Folklife Center Archie Green Fellow. O’Connell and McRobbie have been conducting oral histories with midwives and other birth workers across the state of North Carolina.  Joe is also an active folk-rock music recording artist, making music under the band name Elephant Micah. He lives in Durham, North Carolina.

Museum of Natural and Cultural History Announces Open Nominations for the 2020 Oregon Stewardship Award

The Museum of Natural and Cultural History is now accepting nominations for its third annual Oregon Stewardship Award.

Spearheaded by the museum’s advisory council, the award recognizes an individual or organization that has involved the community in an environmental or cultural project that aligns with the museum’s mission to inspire stewardship of Oregon’s collective past, present and future.

“Oregonians are change makers,” said Ann Craig, director of public programs at the museum.

“Every day, people and organizations across the state are endeavoring to create a more just, equitable, and sustainable Oregon. This award is designed to recognize and celebrate their work.”

The recipient of the award will receive $1,000 and be recognized at an April 3 award reception, in museum publications and on an “Oregon Heroes” display panel in the museum’s Explore Oregon exhibit.

Online nominations for the 2020 award must be submitted by Friday, Jan. 31, and the recipient will be announced March 8. Nomination forms are available on the museum’s website.

Oregon individuals, community groups, nonprofit organizations, K-12 schools and higher education institutions are all eligible nominees, as are national and regional organizations with offices or affiliates in Oregon. Eligible projects are Oregon-based and relate directly to Oregon’s environment or cultural heritage.

To be considered for the 2020 award, projects must have meaningful community impact and be ongoing or completed during the 2019 calendar year.

Past awards have recognized Coos Bay’s Marshfield High School for its stewardship of the historic Marshfield Pioneer Cemetery, and Ontario’s Four Rivers Cultural Center for its Tradition Keepers Folklife Festival, a daylong public celebration of traditional arts and artists in eastern Oregon.

The museum invites groups and individuals to self-nominate. Nominations also will be accepted from third parties wishing to recognize stewardship of Oregon’s environmental or cultural heritage by a group or individual.

Contact: Ann Craig, Museum of Natural and Cultural History, 541-346-3116,    

About the Museum: The Museum of Natural and Cultural History enhances knowledge of Earth’s environments and cultures, inspiring stewardship of our collective past, present, and future. A center of interdisciplinary research, education, and exhibition, the museum serves the State of Oregon, the University of Oregon, Native American Tribes, the research community, K-12 students and teachers, and the wider public in Oregon and beyond. The museum annually welcomes more than 30,000 visitors and serves another 20,000 Oregonians through its statewide outreach programs. A winner of the 2018 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the museum is fully accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, distinguishing it as one of the very best in the nation.

2019 Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program Master Artists’ Gathering

Iris Teeuwen (photos and text) and Christal Snyder (text and editor)

Top starting from the left: Steve McKay, Marjan Anvari, Mic Crenshaw, Mark Ross, Brian Hart, Hossein Salahi, Antonio Huerta. Bottom Starting from the left: Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim, Kelli Palmer, Esther Stutzman, Roberta Kirk, Marge Kalama, Azar Salehi, Maria de Jesus Gonzalez Laguna. Present at the gathering, but not photographed here: Charlotte Roderique, Wanda Johnson, Sandra Teeman


Oregon Folklife Network staff had the privilege of spending 2 days at Bend’s High Desert Museum at a professional development gathering with 17 of Oregon’s master traditional artists. Funding from the NEA and the Oregon Arts Commission and a generous partnership with the High Desert Museum provided support to invite our Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program’s (TAAP) master artists (2011-2019) for peer-to-peer mentoring and professional development. On April 27-28, 2019, 17 of 32 master artists came together for networking, panel discussions, performances and demonstrations. As the artists noted, “It was wonderful to have this opportunity to get to know each other.” The gathering provided a “fantastic opportunity to connect – all of it was useful.”

Folk & Traditional Art Displays: The Gathering began with introductions. Several artists shared their pieces with the group.

Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim (center) shows her traditional Palestinian embroidery to Persian tazhib artist, Marjan Anvari (right). Burns Paiute moccasin maker and tradition keeper Charlotte Roderique (left) chats to another artist.

Iranian traditional artist and conservator Marjan Anvari specializes in tazhib, a form of traditional manuscript illumination that dates back to 224 A.D. Because of its ubiquitous presence in Iran’s historical architecture, visual arts, and craftsmanship, tazhib has become a symbol of nationality and culture. Anvari has more than 15 years of experience working on manuscripts, books, and art on paper and is particularly dedicated to using her talents to educate children and adults. This particular piece, Anvari explained, is a runner that she decorated with “a combination of traditional Persian fabric (Termeh) and hand-painted Persian illumination (tazhib).” The motif is called shamseh (sun).

Cornhusk weaver Kelli Palmer (Warm Springs) uses dried cornhusk, hemp, yarn, and buckskin (brain-tanned and smoked deer hide) to make her traditional baskets. Palmer employs a double-twining technique to create traditional woven hats and sally bags or wapus (flat baskets); women wear the bags around their waists and use them to collect roots that they later dry and prepare for eating.

Marjorie Kalama (Warm Springs) makes traditional loomed beadwork. Her method of two-needled tack-down beading requires the simultaneous use of two needles with different sized threads. She adorns dresses, fans, and more with her intricately shaded designs. Kalama has won six awards for her beadwork at tribal member art shows.

H’Klumaiyat-Roberta Kirk (Wasco) is a traditional beadworker and regalia maker. Kirk uses shells and beadwork to embellishes traditional clothing that she designs and makes for ceremonies and pow-wows. Kirk also gathers traditional foods for the Simnasho Longhouse in Warm Springs and has consulted for several museums, including the Smithsonian, on Native American artifacts.

Ragalia makers Marge Kalama (Warm Springs) and Charlotte Roderique (Burns Paiute) admire Kelli Palmer’s traditional baskets.

Buckaroo and traditional saddle maker Steve McKay (right) shows Marge Kalama (left) one of his intricately braided rawhide lariats. McKay learned to tool saddles in the 1980s from fellow traditional artist Len Babb II; other Oregon buckaroos consider him the “go-to” guy for functional, well-made gear.

Antonio Huerta (Mexican charro/cowboy) examines one of Steve McKay’s braided rawhide ropes.

Antonio Huerta performs traditional charrería (cowboy rope work), an skill used to work cattle and in rodeo competitions.


Needs Assessment and Professional Development: OFN asked artists to let us know about areas in which they needed help as well as where they had strengths and could help others. Categories included promotions, finding gigs, business and finance, and expanding opportunities.

Tazhib (illumination and calligraphy) artist Marjan Anvari (Persian) is interested in assistance with online promotion.

Roberta Kirk and Maria de Jesus Gonzalez Laguna add their thoughts for a session on Looking Back/Looking Forward or the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program.

Antonio Huerta, who also does outreach for the UO Division of Undergraduate Studies, shares his ideas with fellow artists.

Charlotte Roderique (left), Wanda Johnson (center), and Sandra Teeman (right) are members of the Burns Paiute Tribe and skilled moccasin makers who have taught this traditional art to Burns Paiute children As members of the tribe’s Cultural Advisory Committee, these culture keepers have dedicated their time and effort to sustaining their heritage.

Charlotte Roderique takes her turn to talk with the group.

Feryal Abbasi-Ghnaim (standing), a 2018 National Heritage Fellow, learned traditional Palestinian embroidery the stories behind the designs from her mother and grandmother.

Emily West Hartlerode (standing), OFN Associate Director, facilitates a session about exploring resources that OFN and artists can share to support one other.

Michelle Seiler-Godfrey, Program Development Manager at the High Desert Museum, spoke to artists about marketing their arts and expanding their networks.


Performances: On Saturday evening everyone gathered at McMenamins Old St. Francis School to socialize and share their traditional arts.

First up to perform was old time musician Mark Ross, whose repertoire of over nearly 500 songs runs the gamut of American roots music, includes ballads, train songs, blues, and western swing.

Traditional Irish singer Brian Ó hAirt explores the Irish experience from the profane to the conventional through music. The continuing significance of Irish ballads and folk songs is evidenced by its popularity at any Irish gathering, whether at homes, in pubs or bars, and for community celebrations.

Master santoor player Hossein Salehi began his musical career at seven when he started learning this ancient traditional art form from his father, Maestro Abbas Salehi. The instrument is a trapezoid-shaped hammered dulcimer with 72 strings strung over small adjustable bridges; this makes it possible for the santoor, Iran’s national instrument, the capacity to produce a range of three octaves. This musical tradition is over 1100 years old.

Azar Salehi is an Persian storyteller who also recites traditional poetry. Salehi has partnered with Portland State University and others in her mission to connect members of the Iranian diaspora to their cultural roots.

MC Michael “Mic” Crenshaw is a poetry slam champion and a respected hip hop artist around the Northwest and in Africa. A former member of the Portland-based group Hungry Mob, Crenshaw currently acts as Political Director for the Hip Hop Congress and the Lead U.S. Organizer for the Afrikan Hip Hop Caravan. Crenshaw recently received one of four inaugural 2019-21 Fields Artist’s Fellowships from the Oregon Community Foundation in partnership with Oregon Humanities.

Traditional Coos and Kalapuya storyteller Esther Stutzman is an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz and a member of the Northwest Indian Storyteller’s Association. Stutzman was the winner of the 2017 Governor’s Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement.

At the conclusion to the TAAP Master Artist Gathering, Mexican Folkloríco dancer and teacher Maria de Jesus Gonzalez Laguna and Antonio Huerta collaborated on a performance that combined charrería with a traditional folklórico dance. Each of Mexico’s states has a set of traditional dances that feature specific expression, technique, dress, and accessories.

Echoing everyone’s sentiments, one of the artists commented, “the performances [and folk art displays were] all beautiful, and we will remember that for a long time.


Exciting Grant Opportunity!

USArtists International supports performances by U.S. dance, music, and theater ensembles and solo artists invited to perform at important cultural festivals and performing arts marketplaces anywhere in the world outside the United States and its territories. USArtists International grantees reflect the vibrant diversity of U.S. artists and creative expression in the performing arts. The next deadline is April 3, 2019 at 11:59 PM ET for engagements between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020. To learn more about the program, see additional deadlines or access the online application, please visit our website.

USAI is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Howard Gilman Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Trust for Mutual Understanding and is the only program of its size and scope in the country.

OFN at 35th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering

This year’s 35th Annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering once again found poets, musicians, gearmakers, and folklorists in Elko, Nevada celebrating and raising awareness about cowboy culture and the rural experience. OFN Associate Director, Emily West Hartlerode, worked managing and hosting stages as contract staff of the Western Folklife Center, reuniting with colleagues from across the west. Among them are a growing number of UO and OFN alum: Bradford McMullen and Jennie Flinspach (OFN graduate employees), Debbie Fant (OFN contract fieldworker), and Amy Mills (UO Folklore graduate), to name a few. On-stage talent from Oregon included first-time participant, singer-songwriter Forrest Van Tuyl of Enterprise, and long-time participant Ross Knox who now hails from Arizona, but grew up ranching in Central Oregon. Personal highlights were stage managing for Colter Wall, Trinity Seely, and Dave Stamey (backstage photos below), and catching up with community scholar, Andy Hedges, whose interviews with cowboy poets and singer-songwriters you can enjoy on his blog.

There is a feeling of homecoming at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering among artists and staff folklorists alike. Thanks to Doug Blandy, director of UO Folklore and Public Culture Program, for sharing this blog post about the event.

Dave Stamey and Emily West Hartlerode, backstage at NCPG 2019

Colter Wall and Emily West Hartlerode, backstage at NCPG 2019

Trinity Seely and Emily West Hartlerode



Dear Oregon Folklife Supporter,

Today is #GivingTuesday—a global day dedicated to giving back to your favorite nonprofits and causes. #GivingTuesdaykicks off the Oregon Folklife Network’s year-end fundraising campaign.

To participate: Make an end-of-the-year tax-deductible gift to the Oregon Folklife Network Fund.  Be a part of OFN’s ongoing story from Culture Fest to our Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program. Our programs showcase exemplary culture keepers in Oregon’s communities and Tribes.

Your donations enable OFN to

When you give to OFN, remember to make a matching donation to the Oregon Cultural Trust, which will credit its portion back to you as an Oregon state tax credit.  “Donate+Match = Get the Whole Match Back!”

When you donate today you’ll be joining thousands of other Oregonians in a statewide celebration of #GivingTuesday as part of the NonProfit Association of Oregon’s #CareLikeAnOregonian campaign.


OFN connects!  From culture keepers in Tribes and communities, to local and statewide programs and agencies, we make Oregon’s traditional arts thrive. To continue this work, we need your help. We hope you’ll be a part of our efforts to nurture Oregon’s diverse cultural heritage.

Thanks so much for your support!

Riki Saltzman, Executive Director
Oregon Folklife Network

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

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. This sovereign nation that pre-existed the establishment of the United States, holds 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.


The original document resides in a climate-controlled vault in the National Archives in Washington DC, however it was temporarily on display at the Museum at Warm Springs through Nov 3, 2018. This unique access to the Treaty paralleled the Museum’s celebration of its 25th Anniversary, and spurred tribal leadership to coordinate the Treaty Conference. Many Native and non-native allies came together to better understand the historical context that established the Treaty; to reflect on the 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 surviving, but one of thriving.


Warm Springs Tribal Council member, Valerie Switzler, 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 Fieldschool alumni, and Warm Springs sophomores Dylan Heath, Taya Holiday, and Kathryce Danzuka attended on Friday and took leadership roles in running the video camera, asking thoughtful questions, and ensuring that release forms were properly filled and 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.


Interviews spanned a variety of perspectives, from Native American Rights Fund lawyer (and former UO Duck) Charles Wilkinson, to elder and language teacher Arlita Rhoan. Incoming Executive Director of the Museum at Warm Springs (and former Poet Laureate) Elizabeth Woody, who expertly coordinated this important event, also provided her reflections for this record, all of which is going back to the Tribal Archives. Their thoughts co-mingle with my own reflections 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. The prayer songs fade in my ears, but for the people of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, and the 500+ sovereign nations who permit US activities on the land that has been theirs since time immemorial, those songs resound often and strong.