Sculpting History: Upper Columbian Plateau Tribes Celebrate Heritage with Traditional Canoe Exhibit at MAC


SPOKANE, Wash. — Visitors to the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture over the past two months may have noticed a group of people carving canoes out of two century-old cedar logs. Members of some of the indigenous Northwest Interior tribes have been holding the demonstration since March at the museum, as part of the resurgence of traditional indigenous canoeing culture. “We’re here to show people our efforts to revitalize our language and our culture,” Spokane Tribe member Devon Peone said. “It’s been over 70 years since we’ve seen canoes come up the river, so it’s part of reintroduction and re-education for everyone here – to show that we’re still here and doing all the right things. our ancestors did.” One of the main goals is to bring salmon home to the Spokane and Columbia rivers, which have dams blocking their passage. Salmon are a keystone species for many native ecosystems and cultures. “In June, during the summer solstice, we have a salmon ceremony at Kettle Falls with all the local tribes in the area. It’s a way we remember the salmon going up the Columbia and Spokane and down to Kettle Falls,” said Craig Hill. Hill is a member of the Spokane tribe, and the main presenter of the Canoe Carving Demonstration, a role he describes as “being the ‘Q and A’ guy.” “Sculpting these canoes and putting them on the water is also a big part of that,” Hill said. a piece of the bigger puzzle. “It’s very, very powerful – the energy, the love, the camaraderie that’s going on here,” Peone said. “To see it between the tribes and then also the community and the city. That is the goal, to come together and that we can all move forward together in a better and healing way. “This is just the beginning, we’re going to see a lot more interaction between the tribes and the community for our healing,” Peone continued. “The dream is 100 canoes going up the river. Families, children, elders all going up the river together to pray for the salmon. Both canoes will be on display at the 37th annual Mac ArtFest, taking place June 3-5 at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, before being completed over the summer.

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