Springs museum's traveling exhibit offers rare glimpse of traditional
SPRINGS The Museum At Warm Springs' latest exhibit was missing
was a nearly empty platform where headbands, decorated with abalone
shells and adorned with orange and black feathers, were supposed
a skirt made of maple bark and an apron fashioned from ring-tailed
cat hide, all from the Coquille Indian Tribe, were also gone.
no one was worried. The ceremonial regalia was being worn
danced in by tribal members from the Coquille Indian Tribe in their
summer solstice celebration.
were being worn 24 hours before (being placed in the museum)," said
Rebecca Dobkins, a professor of anthropology and curator of Native
American art at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University
in Salem. "This is a living exhibit. In the sense that these objects,
many of them literally come out of people's closets and will be
danced in ceremony when they get home."
recipient of the prestigious National Endowment for the Arts American
Masterpieces Project, "The Art of Ceremony: Regalia of Native Oregon"
is currently at The Museum At Warm Springs. From the nine federally
recognized tribes in Oregon comes ceremonial regalia used in memorial
dances ranging from weddings to celebrating the first huckleberry
feast to mourning the loss of a tribal member in the longhouse.
The types of clothing vary, depending on the location of the tribes.
Many of the pieces are contemporary, crafted in this century. Other
works have been passed down through generations.
all the pieces offer a rare glimpse into an often-private world.
is an opportunity to see work that is otherwise almost never seen,"
the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians comes the traditional
wear for the Feather Dance.
is the first time they have taken their dance regalia outside of
the community," Dobkins said. "The Feather Dance, called a world
renewal ceremony, is a multi-night ceremony in a traditional dance
house. They celebrate the solstice and renewal with the earth and
creation, and the coming of new generations. They honor woman because
they bring forth the new generation.
think we're at an important moment historically," she said. "Tribes
have gotten stronger through economic development and what the public
sees is just gaming. They don't have a clue about contemporary native
life ... I think there's a real and well-deserved pride and identity,
an awareness of the preciousness of this tradition."
the Siletz tribe comes women's caps made of hazel sticks, spruce
roots, bear grass, worn during the Feather Dance. The Confederated
Tribes of Warm Springs shows a wedding scene, complete with the
intricate bead work the tribes are known for. And a replica of a
"canoe journey" indicative of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand
Ronde Community of Oregon can be viewed at the exhibit.
exhibit) tells the world who they are," said Carol Leone, the executive
director of The Museum At Warm Springs. "It shows they are following
the traditions of their ancestors."
Tripp, 62, of Portland, said she took a different route to her John
Day destination Friday afternoon, just to see the exhibit.
been wanting to see this exhibit
and it has not let me down,"
Tripp said. "The work that went into these, and they must look sensational
when they're dancing."
exhibit was initially placed at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art. From
there, it went to the Tamastslikt Cultural Institute on the Confederated
Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. After Warm Springs, the
exhibit will be placed in the Oregon Historical Society in Portland.
D'Arcy, the executive director of the Oregon Arts Commission and
the Oregon Cultural Trust, said the American Masterpieces Project
grant is given once a year.
year we make hard decisions about good projects," D'Arcy said. "This
one really resonated with people, because it brought together work
from different parts of the state from each one of the nine federally
recognized tribes contributed. The material was presented sensitively
with lots of information (placards with historical information accompany
The proposal to collaborate with other museums
to show the work across the state (was also favorable)."
project was awarded a $50,000 grant, which gave it a running start.
The entire project cost about $150,000.
said the museum is staying open seven days a week until the exhibit
moves on Sept. 12. Museum officials have decided to keep their doors
open seven days a week because of the large response to the exhibit.
are unique and beautiful objects," Leone said of the exhibit. "The
objects have a story. They are objects people are using or have
used. They are living history objects themselves. It's an important
exhibit. We're happy it was available to come to this museum and
be available for Central Oregon."