Native Voices Celebrated at Clark College

A man beats a Native drum while a woman stands nearby.

Chinook tribal elder Sam Robinson and Clark student Channa Smith perform a blessing song to welcome the Native Voices exhibition to Clark College.

VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON — The Native Voices traveling exhibition’s stop at Clark College was celebrated by a blessing ceremony, a community-generated book display, and related historical exhibits.

The exhibition’s opening on February 9 was led by Chinook tribal elder (and Clark alumnus) Sam Robinson as he began a blessing ceremony that featured drummers and singing.

In conjunction with the Native Voices exhibition, Clark College Libraries collaborated with several college departments and external organizations including the Clark College Office of Diversity and Equity, Clark College’s Archer Gallery, the Chinook Nation, and the Clark County Historical Museum.

Several area libraries collectively curated a book display that featured fiction, nonfiction, and poetry about the health, history, and culture of Native Americans and Native Hawaiians.

Some area descendants of the Sand Creek Massacre added an art exhibit, One November Morning, depicting the fateful events of November 29, 1864, when more than 150 Cheyenne and Arapaho Natives were massacred at Sand Creek, Colorado. The exhibit included the work of Cheyenne and Arapaho artists Brent Learned, George Curtis Levi, and BJ Stepp, who illustrate through their art the honor and strength of their ancestors and former tribal leaders. Programming also included a documentary about the massacre.

A three-hour art walk between Clark College’s Cannell Library, Archer Gallery, and the Clark County Historical Museum also took place on March 4, about a month after the exhibition’s opening.

Finally, an exhibit titled Woven: The Art of Contemporary Native Basketry at the Archer Gallery highlighted 12 contemporary Native artists and their individual approaches to the ancient craft of basket weaving.

Librarian Laura Nagel, who organized Clark’s hosting of Native Voices, estimates about 325 students and visitors saw the exhibition.

Established in 1933, Clark College is located in southwestern Washington, just across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon. Among its array of majors, Clark specializes in nursing, dental hygiene, and health informatics.

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