The Portland Native American community welcomes entrepreneurial energy and investment, and invites you to engage in conversation with us about your ideas and enthusiasms, your dreams and innovations, your skills and talents.
The 10th annual Trading at the River Conference, held in April 2012, boasted a theme built from the thoughts of Oregon writer Barry Lopez about the importance of conversations:
“Conversations are efforts toward good relations. They are an elementary form of reciprocity. They are the exercise of our love for each other. They are the enemies of our loneliness, our doubt, our anxiety, our tendencies to abdicate. To continue to be in good conversation over our enormous and terrifying problems is to be calling out to each other in the night. If we attend with imagination and devotion to our conversations, we will find what we need; and someone among us will act — it does not matter who — and we will survive.”
Portland is emerging as a dynamic regional hub of Indian entrepreneurship through the work of a rapidly growing network of Trading at the River partners and sponsors, including:
- Trading at the River Conference – Organized by Oregon Native American Business and Entrepreneurial Network (ONABEN)
- Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians – Economic Development Corporation (ATNI – EDC)
- Oregon Native American Chamber (ONAC)
- Native Arts and Culture Foundation
Contact any or all of these organizations prior to your visit to Portland, and you will find each is staffed with enthusiastic, professional “Indianpreneurs” ready to engage you in conversation, and to make your visit here productive and effective.
While Portland is located a considerable distance from most of Oregon’s nine tribal reservations, two tribes maintain business offices within the City of Portland:
For millennia, the area now occupied by the City of Portland was a major trading center, with dozens of tribes and bands occupying both permanent and seasonal villages, particularly along the Columbia and Willamette Rivers.
Now, plans are under development to recreate the ancient indigenous trading economy with a new Native American intertribal cooperative grocery, fish market and cultural center in Portland that will serve the entire region.
The proposed cooperative will link to existing tribal groceries, such as those on the Warm Springs and Umatilla Indian reservations, and will provide a market for Native food producers, artists, writers, potters, basket makers, etc., both locally and from across the continent.
“Everything is held together with stories. That is all that is holding us together, stories and compassion.” ― Barry Lopez
The cooperative will feature the stories of the foods, and of the cultures and traditions of Native America, so there will be regular storytelling activities at the market. There will be Ojibwe wild rice, Native Harvest mahnomin from the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota, and Umpqua Indian Foods jerky from the Cow Creek Umpqua in Roseburg, Ore. There will be fresh and smoked Native-caught fish from throughout the Pacific Northwest, and with each of these foods there will be the stories.
You can hear some of the storytellers through Wisdom of the Elders, a Native non-profit that has videotaped and recorded hundreds of stories over more than 20 years, and be assured that the Portland Native community welcomes storytellers.
“‘Remember on this one thing,’ said Badger. ‘The stories people tell have a way of taking care of them. If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive. That is why we put these stories in each other’s memories. This is how people care for themselves.’” ― Barry Lopez, Crow and Weasel
Contact us. Let’s have a conversation. We want to hear your stories.