Power and Perception Exhibit Showcases Contemporary Native Artists

Kevin Red Star (Crow Nation; born 1943)
Buffalo Horse Medicine, 2007, Mixed media
     The Crow people have enduring relationships with horses. Paraded at the annual Crow Fair Celebration and other special events, horses adorned in beaded regalia demonstrate their value and importance to the Crow Nation. In Buffalo Horse Medicine, Kevin Red Star depicts horses that are an important breed for buffalo hunting. Red Star signifies a connection between this man’s identity as a buffalo hunter and his strong relationship with horses.

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Many portraits of Indigenous people by non-Native artists romanticize, stereotype, or appropriate Native people and cultures. Contemporary Native artists are actively deconstructing these myths and preconceptions about their culture through the use of art. In fact, many modern-day artists use a dynamic combination of materials, methods and concepts that challenge traditional boundaries and defy easy definition. 

Charles M. Russell (born 1864, died 1926)
Indian Canoe Party, 1906, Watercolor on paper
      Great Slave Lake is in the Northwest Territories about 1,200 miles north of the Montana-Canada border. When Russell was 24-years-old, he spent six months in the Northwest Territory. It is possible that this painting is based on his travels.
Russell paints with a romanticism and nostalgia for what he considered the Old West. His idealized paintings of Natives are ripe with metaphors. In the early 20th century, most of America was concerned or convinced that Native cultures would be extinct. For Russell, the setting sun represented this false view.

Tacoma Art Museum’s newest exhibition “Native Portraiture: Power and Perception” gives voice to Native people and communities to show their resiliency and power over the ways in which they are portrayed and perceived. Native tribes aren’t uniform, they are diverse with a variety of distinct characteristics. As such, the artists in this show have taken on varied points of view while sharing their voice. All are well executed and demonstrate that you can’t pin Native art into a single category.

Preston Singletary (Tlingit; born 1963)
Whale & Eagle, 2013, Limited edition patented bronze
       Artists capture the true appearances of the animals by highlighting anatomy and form. Bronze sculptures typically appear on a base without any background images, which places further emphasis on the shape and individuality of each creature rather than on the scene or setting. Through his sculpture, Preston Singletary invites viewers to look more closely at animals and foster a sense of awe and wonder.

“We can now say, let’s look at this artwork and use a contemporary lens to unpack where these artists are coming from and why they painted the work in this manner,” explained Faith Brower, exhibit curator. “We hope to inspire visitors to explore both controversial issues of appropriation and cultural imagery, and to think differently about Western art and how it relates to their lives and communities.”

Wendy Red Star (Crow Nation, 1981)
Indian Summer – Four Seasons, 1996, Archival pigment print
       When visiting natural history museums, Crow artist Wendy Red Star was struck by the displays that treat Native people as inanimate remnants of the past. She reclaims these troublesome dioramas by humorously staging a fake museum display in which she wears an elk tooth dress, hair wraps and beaded moccasins while sitting on artificial grass surrounded by fabricated plants and animals. Simulating a mountain lake scene, this image uses humor and irony to address issues of stereotyping and romanticizing Native people today.

“Native Portraiture: Power and Perception”, on display through February of 2019, highlights work by Native artists who address issues of identity, resistance and reclamation through their powerful artwork. The artists ask us to reconsider images of Indigenous people because certain reoccurring themes, such as the “vanishing Indian” and “noble savage”, have led to centuries of cultural misunderstandings.

Shaun Peterson (Puyallup Tribe; born 1975)
Welcome Figure, 2010
Cedar, steel, graphite and magnets
       The 20-foot-tall Welcome Figure stands fixed in Tacoma’s Tollefson Plaza, where a Puyallup tribal village had once stood. From acquiring and transporting a suitable wind-fall cedar log, to devising a metal support system, to carving, assembling, and painting the figure, the work stands as a time-honored sculpture that greets people on Coast Salish lands. Funded by the City of Tacoma, the Puyallup Tribe, and Tacoma Art Museum, the figure is carved from a single log and marks the participation of the tribe and Coast Salish people in contemporary society. Installed on September 13, 2010, the Welcome Figure is a powerful reminder that we are on Indigenous land.

“What’s happening now is museums are realizing that they have a problem and that problem is that they don’t have the Native American perspective,” said exhibit artist Wendy Red Star. “All the culture has been mined and been talked about by non-Natives. Now, there’s a switch where that body of work works really well as sort of being an institutional critique piece. It tends to fit, to help articulate that in an exhibition like this.”

Rick Bartow (Wiyot Tribe; born 1946, died 2016)
Old Time Picture I, 1999
Mixed media on handmade paper
     Wiyot artist Rick Bartow is known for his powerful, vibrant and expressive images of people and animals. His work is honest and provocative depicting emotions that set it apart from stereotypical representations of Native people and cultures. Rather than glorifying a stoic person in a headdress, Bartow depicts the range of emotions that people feel through this depiction of a man. The title further suggest Bartow’s challenge of the stereotypical depictions of Native Americans.

Native Heartbeats Creates Personalized Novelties With an Indigenous Twist


By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

Three short years ago, young Tulalip tribal member Mackenzie Parks found herself in an auspicious situation while at a trade show in Los Angeles. Her eyes fell onto a laser-engraving machine, used to customize jewelry with personal messages. After inquiring about the machine from a salesperson at the show, she continued to observe the laser machine in action. As she studied the product, people began to approach Mackenzie, asking how the machine worked. She happily informed the small crowd about the laser-engraver and while doing so, decided to purchase one of her own, essentially selling the product to herself. Thus beginning her new business venture, Native Heartbeats.

“I am a young, entrepreneurial tribal woman with some big dreams for Native Heartbeats,” Mackenzie states. “I’ve invested my life savings into this business knowing that there are tons of people out in this world doing the same thing. Every time a team goes to get sports plaques, they go to a business like mine. The trouble with their business model is that they’re all fighting for the same customer. My vision is to create a new customer, kind of like my own niche market. What better than my Native American culture?”

The inspiration for Mackenzie’s new project came in the form of one of the world’s favorite carbohydrates, the potato. When hearing about a humorous story of a man successfully selling personalized potatoes nationwide, Mackenzie, along with her father Les Parks, conjured the idea of gathering and customizing flat beach rocks for tribal members across the nation. Now Mackenzie is the owner of a unique company that combines traditional Native American artwork with modern technology to create items such as drums and carvings that are engraved with family photos and personal messages.

Since purchasing the laser-engraver, Mackenzie has been perfecting her craft by learning the machine’s software and engraving several different types of materials. In addition to drums and woodcarvings, Mackenzie has successfully engraved photos and designs onto glass and stone, as well as leather. Les has been involved with Mackenzie’s project from the beginning, often bringing new ideas to the table. More importantly, he owned and operated a number of small businesses, and offers Mackenzie strong advice along her journey with Native Heartbeats.

Mackenzie’s father, Les Parks, brings new ideas and a helping hand to the business.

The father-daughter duo have put their brains together on more than one occasion to create new products. Perhaps one of their most astonishing creations are wooden salmon carvings which feature engraved Coast Salish designs, as well as additional space for a picture and a message. The salmon carvings are one of many popular items and have been commissioned for both gifts as well as memorial plaques for celebrations of life. In the near future, Mackenzie plans on packaging smoked salmon and attaching it to the back of each personalized salmon carving.

Currently, Native Heartbeats has a variety of novelties such as mirrors, jewelry boxes, hot plates and coasters that are ready to be engraved with your favorite designs and photos. Mackenzie is eager to grow her new startup and equally excited to create custom keepsakes for tribal members all across Native America.

“I love my culture and I’m happy I can get into it by creating unique pieces for people who love it just as much as I do,” she expresses. “While I’m just now nurturing my business plans, watch how it will grow in coming months and years. I would be happy to sit with anyone and talk about what my business can make for you and your families.”

If you are searching for the perfect gift this holiday season that is both personal and unique, please visit the Native Heartbeats Facebook page; and be sure to send the page a message for orders, pricing and all other inquires.

Eighth Generation Celebrates One Year Anniversary

Louie Gong with hummingbird print.

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

In the late summer of 2016, Nooksack artist Louie Gong opened the doors of his ‘Inspired Natives not Native Inspired’ brick and mortar shop in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, located directly above the tourist-favorite gum wall. After several years of independently grinding and selling his traditional yet contemporary artwork online, Louie decided to bring authentic Native American art to the masses by opening Eighth Generation and by doing so, he began to break stereotypes. In a world where big-name companies such as Forever 21, Urban Outfitters and Pendleton often appropriate Native designs, Louie took control by becoming one of the only Native-owned retailers selling authentically made Coast Salish art in the entire nation.

Louie has journeyed a long way since first making his mark in the fashion scene by taking a Sharpie to pair of Vans shoes and mixing traditional and urban art together. Since then, he has used his platform to empower and promote fellow Indigenous artists and has become one of the most prominent voices in the Native American community. Many tribal nations across the United States often gift   wool blankets to community members and leaders during traditional ceremonies. Blanketing honored guests is a tradition in Native America that has been practiced for centuries. These blankets were almost exclusively Pendleton but now tribes have the opportunity to support Louie’s movement during potlatches, powwows and many other tribal events.

On Saturday August 26, Eighth Generation celebrated their one-year anniversary by hosting an open house at their storefront. Tribal members from across the nation, including Ahousaht, Quinault and Lummi attended the event to show support for Louie and Eighth Generation.  The event featured a giveaway of several Eighth Generation products including blankets, soap, a limited number of signed Louie Gong Hummingbird prints as well as an original Louie Gong framed art piece valued at $1,200. During the event, Louie took a moment to reflect on the success of Eighth Generation throughout this past year.

“We’ve been open for a year and I feel like I’m at the end of a marathon,” he expresses. “When we launched it wasn’t time to rest, it was really time to put our nose to the grindstone and work even harder than the time leading up to the launch. Now that we’ve been open for a year and gone through all the different lessons that we had to learn, many of them the hard way, I feel like its finally time to take a deep breath, reflect on what we’ve learned over the last year and recalibrate to do even better next year. I feel like I’ve finally reached a time of reflection so I’m going to take some time away and think about how to move forward in a strategic way and how to continue scaling up Eighth Generation in a way that’s consistent with our values and our long-term vision. Not just creating opportunities for ourselves but also creating opportunities for other cultural artists and other community-based Native people.”

Central District Ice Cream Company  debuted eight new tasty ice cream treats at the celebration.

For the celebration, Eighth Generation collaborated with a local Native-owned business, the Central District Ice Cream Company, to debut eight new tasty ice cream treats: Hummingbird Huckleberry, Seattle Freeze (deep chocolate ice cream with Salish Sea salt and almond cookie crumble), Horchata De La Raza, COOL καψə? (nettle mint ice cream with chocolate chips), Genmaicha, Wunder Beer, Chica Fresca and Sleepy Dragon (lychee and lavender ice cream).  The Eighth Generation team also created artwork for each ice cream flavor.

“There’s no better way for us to celebrate the work that Eighth Generation does than by collaborating with another Native-owned company,” Louie states. “Over the course of last year, we were fortunate to become aware of Central District Ice Cream and the fact that they’re also Native-owned. We teamed up to create eight unique ice cream flavors that we launched today at our one-year celebration. It was the perfect way to act in a way consistent with Coast Salish and Northwest Coast teachings around how to conduct a celebration, but to also do it in a way that reflects the light-heartedness and contemporary nature of Eighth Generation. By incorporating traditional ingredients into the ice cream, including some medicines, it was a way for us to do what I try to do with my art, which is to make cultural teachings and ideas relevant to contemporary life.”

After a successful first year, Eighth Generation continues to inspire Native artists and break stereotypes. For further information and to view the Eighth Generation catalog, please visit www.EighthGeneration.com or visit the store in person at 93 Pike Street Seattle, WA 98101.

Vibrant Things Found at Tulalip Hibulb Cultural Center Latest Exhibit





By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

Looking to plan a fun yet educational activity for the entire family? Look no further, because Tulalip’s Hibulb Cultural Center has your back! This summer Hibulb unveiled its brand new exhibit, Vibrant Beauty: Colors of Our Collection. The exhibit, geared towards students in kindergarten through the third grade, is interactive and such a blast that youth will gain a whole new perspective on color. Hibulb’s Senior Curator, Tessa Campbell believes that although this exhibit is targeted towards youth, adults will also have fun and learn a few new things about color during their visit.

“We had the vision of creating the exhibit to be highly interactive, and we developed a total of 12 different colorful activities. Children will have the opportunity to reflect on how color affects them, vote for their favorite color, and discover why we like a certain color or choose to wear certain colors. In addition to the color reflection opportunities, children and visitors can learn how to say colors in our Lushootseed language,” stated Tessa.

Learning colors in Lushootseed is enticing on it’s own, pair that with the remaining 11 interactive activities such as a touch screen computer that not only allows you to learn about the color wheel but also shares traditional Tulalip stories, and you have yourself a culturally rich museum exhibit.




One of the many interesting facts about this exhibit is that everything on display was made in-house by the Hibulb staff, Tulalip artists, and Tulalip youth. Vibrant Beauty uses colors brilliantly; the exhibit incorporates new information on colors that the Tulalip youth frequently see around the community. Among the touchscreens, puppets, and engaging stories is a magnificent display featuring watercolor artwork made by the youth in the Tulalip community that attend the Boys & Girls Club.

Tulalip artist, Ty Juvinel, was extremely hands-on during the creation of the Vibrant Beauty project for Hibulb. Creating the main display in the center of the exhibit, Ty expressed the importance of individuality within a group project with both his contributions as well as his story he shared, How Hummingbird and Butterfly Painted All the Flowers.




Hummingbird and Butterfly, a Ty fan favorite, perfectly conveys why colors are essential to our community. Ty stated that colors are our emotions, that statement holds a significant amount of truth. Our brains associate colors with certain emotions and we often use colors to describe how we feel. For example, we might say we feel red when we are frustrated or angry and blue when we are upset or sad. The recognition of how colors affect your emotions is a big take-away for the youth.

The Vibrant Beauty exhibit is on display until February 2017. According to feedback from a lucky few families who got a sneak peak on Friday July 15, the exhibit will be a major success.

The cultural center is thrilled to have an exhibit on display that caters to the local kids.  They found a way to reach the youth, families and the entire Tulalip community on a much deeper level than one would expect at first glance of advertisements for the Vibrant Beauty exhibit; while simultaneously creating an exciting, fun and informational environment.

Mytyl Hernandez, Hibulb Cultural Center Marketing and PR, shared her excitement of shaping the minds of Tulalip’s future leaders stating, “The kids are going to keep the cultural fire burning!”



Burke Museum’s Newest Exhibit Celebrates Native Art from the Pacific Northwest

Here & Now: Native Artists Inspired  November 22, 2014 – July 27, 2015

Source: Burke Museum

Seattle Northwest Native artists create 30 new works inspired by 200 years of history.

 Here & Now: Native Artists Inspired features work by artists whose practice has been informed by the objects in the Burke’s collections, demonstrating how today’s artists and art historians learn from past generations. The exhibit will include contemporary works in a variety of media alongside the historic pieces that artists identified as key to their learning. “The objects in the Burke’s collection embody the knowledge of their makers and they can be a catalyst for transferring this knowledge across generations,” explains exhibit curator and assistant director of the Bill Holm Center for the Study of Northwest Native Art, Kathryn Bunn-Marcuse.

Commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Bill Holm Center, Here & Now explores the dynamic relationship between the Burke Museum and Northwest Native art, artists, and scholars. In the past ten years, over ninety grants have been awarded by the center to researchers, artists, and graduate students. The grant program is unique in its breadth, providing funding for artists to conduct workshops in their own communities, and travel funding to study collections at the Burke Museum or other institutions that hold collections key to an artist or researcher’s interests. These grantees have all contributed to the current dynamism of Northwest Native art.

 Here & Now shares the results of the conversations artists have with historical artworks. Celebrate master artists of the past and present and share in the enthusiasm and creativity of today’s emerging artists.


The Kwakwaka’wakw transformation mask that inspired the design of the original Seahawks logo. Photo courtesy of the Hudson Museum
The Kwakwaka’wakw transformation mask that inspired the design of the original Seahawks logo.
Photo courtesy of the Hudson Museum


The Mask That Inspired the Seahawks Logo:  In the lead up to the 2014 Super Bowl, Dr. Robin K. Wright, Curator of Native American Art and Director of the Bill Holm Center for the Study of Northwest Native Art at the Burke Museum and Bill Holm – one of the most knowledgeable experts in the field of Northwest Coast Native art history – tracked down the origins of the Seahawk’s logo. A photo in Robert Bruce Inverarity’s 1950 book, Art of the Northwest Coast Indians depicts a Kwakwaka’wakw transformation mask which depicts an eagle in its closed form with a human face inside (revealed when the mask opens). Further research revealed press articles from 1976 that described this Kwakwaka’wakw mask from Vancouver Island as the source of the logo. It is now part of the Hudson Museum at the University of Maine’s collections.

During Here & Now, the mask will be displayed along with Native artists’ interpretations of the signature Seahawks design and logo. The Burke is currently fundraising through Kickstarter to bring community experts from the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation to the museum to study the mask and for further preservation and mounting before it is put on display. To meet our goal, the museum still needs to raise about $6,000 and we are encouraging fans to donate $12 to the cause.

Meet the artists of Here & Now! On Sunday, November 23, participate in a panel discussion with selected artists whose work is featured in the exhibit, Here & Now: Native Artists Inspired; and join them for in-gallery conversations about their work. See the documentary “Tracing Roots,” which offers a heartfelt glimpse into the world of Haida elder and weaver Delores Churchill, and visit with her daughter and renowned weaver Evelyn Vanderhoop. Get an up close view of tools and techniques as Burke Curator Sven Haakanson demonstrates the process of cleaning and preparing a Kodiak bear intestine for use in clothing and boat-making.


About the Burke Museum:  The Burke Museum is located on the University of Washington campus, at the corner of NE 45th St. and 17th Ave. NE. Hours are 10 am to 5 pm daily, and until 8 pm on first Thursdays. Admission: $10 general, $8 senior, $7.50 student/ youth. Admission is free to children four and under, Burke members, UW students, faculty, and staff. Admission is free to the public on the first Thursday of each month. Prorated parking fees are $15 and partially refundable upon exit if paid in cash. Call 206-543-5590 or visit www.burkemuseum.org. The Burke Museum is an American Alliance of Museums-accredited museum and a Smithsonian Affiliate.

To request disability accommodation, contact the Disability Services Office at: 206.543.6450 (voice), 206.543.6452 (TTY), 206.685.7264 (fax), or email at dso@u.washington.edu. The University of Washington makes every effort to honor disability accommodation requests. Requests can be responded to most effectively if received as far in advance of the event as possible, preferably at least 10 days.

Native Arts and Artists Day at The Burke Museum, April 19th

Breast Cancer Awareness Basket, by Pat Courtney Gold. Photo by Bill Bachhuber, Portland, OR.
Breast Cancer Awareness Basket, by Pat Courtney Gold.
Photo by Bill Bachhuber, Portland, OR.

Burke Museum

Info from Burke Museum website

Sat., Apr. 19, 2014 | 9:59 am – 3:59 pm
Included with museum admission; FREE for Burke members or with UW ID

Join the Burke Museum for a celebration of Northwest Native art. Watch demonstrations and examine the incredible artwork of local Native American artists, who are experts in mediums such as weaving, basketry, and beadwork. Take part in hands-on art activities for kids and adults. Also attend talks about supporting indigenous artists and various basket and weaving techniques of Northwest Native Peoples.

Activities throughout the day include:

  • Cedar basketry and cordage demonstrations with Theresa Parker (Makah/Lummi)
  • Columbia River Wasco basketry demonstrations  with Pat Courtney Gold (Wasco/Warm Springs)
  • Beadwork and twined sally bag demonstrations with Rodney Cawston (Colville)
  • Yarn spinning and Salish twill demonstrations with Heather Johnson-Jock (Jamestown S’Klallam)
  • Cedar basketry weaving demonstrations with Bill James (Lummi)
  • Try weaving on looms, learn about natural dyes and raw materials used in weaving
  • Kids can make a paper version of a Plateau Style beaded bag to take home


  • 12:30 pm: Introduction to Northwest Baskets with Pat Courtney Gold
    Renowned NW weaver Pat Courtney Gold leads us through a richly illustrated introduction of the 12,000 year history of NW basket weavers, the materials and techniques they use, and the unique baskets that they create.
  • 2 pm: Resources for Indigenous Artists with Anna Hoover (Unungan)
    Anna Hoover’s Anchorage-based non-profit, First Light Alaska, has drawn inspiration from The Banff Centre, Longhouse at Evergreen State College, Kinggait Studios, Maori bi-annual Artist Gatherings, and many other programs. She will discuss how these programs and her own are adapting to the ever-changing needs of the thriving indigenous arts community.


General               $10
Senior               $8
Students (with ID)               $7.50
Youth (5 & up)               $7.50

FREE to Burke members, children ages 4 and under, and UW staff/faculty/students with UW ID.


Free Admission on First Thursdays
*Group tours may not be scheduled on these days.

Check out our special admission discounts and promotions!


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Native arts, crafts show marks half-century

By Kate Prengaman, Yakima Herald-Republic

TOPPENISH, Wash. — Lydia Johnson wanted to support Indian artists and craftsmen to keep tribal traditions alive, so she helped to organize a small local show.

The Spilyay-Mi Native American Arts and Crafts club celebrates its 50th annual event this Saturday and Sunday at the Yakama Nation Cultural Center in Toppenish.

The event has grown and changed since its origins at the Wapato Presbyterian Church, said Johnson, a 93-year-old retired public health nurse from Wapato and member of the Umatilla tribe.

“The reason we keep doing it is because it has evolved to kind of a community function now,” Johnson said. “We’ve done different things, Indian fashion shows, best-dressed baby contests … but the objective is still to encourage Indian artists.”

The event has had many homes around the Yakima Valley and welcomed many Indian artists from around the region, but interest has waned over the years and now the club that organizes the event only has about a dozen active members, according to current president Joyce Manship.

“It’s been harder and harder to keep active members; we’re looking for younger members to keep arts tradition alive,” Manship said.

Manship, 63, is a retired nurse living in Ephrata who got involved as a vendor at first, invited by her brother, who teaches art at Grandview High School. She does bead and leather work in part to honor her Tlingit heritage.

“I’m pretty much self-taught, but my mother and my grandmothers all did traditional artwork,” Manship said. “As a young person, I used to see this really cool Native artwork and I couldn’t afford it, so I learned how to make it.”

There will be lots of bead work for sale and on display this weekend, along with silver jewelry, paintings and wood carvings. Best-dressed baby contests and afternoon performances by local dancers and the Seattle-based Haida Lass dance troupe will also be offered.

The dances play an important role in preserving the arts and crafts, Johnson said. The dancers need moccasins and beaded clothing to perform, which supports the artisans.

Supporting traditions, Johnson said, is even more important now than when she founded Spilyay-Mi in 1964.

To attract more artists, the club decided to open the show to nontribal members. It’s good to have new faces, because some longtime participants have passed away or are in fading health, she added.

Even the spelling of the club’s name has changed slightly over the years, but not the meaning.

The name was suggested at the first organizing meeting by a man who never came back, Johnson said, but the name Spilyay-Mi, meaning “of coyote,” stuck.

“Coyote is in a lot of Indian legends and in a lot of cases he’s not a very good guy,” Johnson said, laughing. “But we named it according to the good things he did. In this case, he was credited with helping the people make baskets and things like that.”