The Portland Art Museum safeguards treasures of all kinds, from impressionist paintings to Chinese ceramics dating back two millennia. But one collection runs especially deep: The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Center for Native American Art houses more than 5,000 artifacts from tribes across what is now the United States, making it one of the most comprehensive assemblages of historic Native culture in the country.
Native art isn’t a thing of the past, however. In October 2015, the Portland Art Museum launched the Center for Contemporary Native Art, dedicated to presenting perspectives from modern-day Native cultures. With more than 5 million Native Americans alive today, there’s a diverse well of talent to draw from. (Portland alone boasts the ninth-largest Native American population in the country, and took root on land that belonged to tribes like the Multnomah, Clackamas and Chinook.) The innovative gallery will host two exhibitions each year, along with a range of related talks and activities co-created by the artists.
Portland saxophonist Jim Pepper's "Witchi Tai To" is the only song based upon a Native American chant to break into the Top 40.
Portland artist Caroline Blechert leads a collective of Indigenous jewelry makers.
Portland artist Katherine Paul draws inspiration from the riot grrrl movement, Nirvana and her Swinomish roots.