NCAI event coming to Portland Oct. 30-Nov. 4

10.13.2011 Dean Rhodes Culture, Events

The 68th annual Convention and Marketplace of the National Congress of American Indians will meet at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland in the ceded homelands of the Grand Ronde Tribe between Sunday, Oct. 30, and Friday, Nov. 4.

The Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, host of this NCAI event called "Footprints Into the Future," has received funding from Oregon's federally recognized Tribes to help underwrite the event.

Grand Ronde Tribal Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy served on the local planning committee to bring appropriate local culture into the event.

Among the cultural plans for the week, ATNI has invited the Grand Ronde Canoe Family to open the event. The Canoe Family will paddle the Willamette River to arrive at "The Bowl" area of the Portland waterfront on Southwest Naito Parkway at 11 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 30, according to ATNI Conference Coordinator Phillip Hillaire (Lummi).

The Grand Ronde Canoe Family will drum and sing, welcoming procession attendees from among some 2,500 attendees to the Convention Center. A procession to follow will walk up Naito Parkway, across the Broadway Bridge and to the Convention Center.

In addition, on Tuesday night, a culture presentation will be led by Cowlitz Tribal Chairman Bill Iyall. Drum groups have been invited from the Southern Plateau Tribes, the Umatillas, the Washat Nation, the Makahs and Squaxin Island. In addition, the Grand Ronde, Cowlitz and Westshore canoe families have been invited to perform.

Planners are expecting 150 vendors, both Native and non-Native, including many well-known Native artists.

A limited edition blanket designed by Yakama Tribal artist Toma Villa, woven by Portland-based Pendleton Woolen Mills, will be for sale at the conference with proceeds benefiting ATNI's local planning efforts. The blanket run is limited to 250.

Among the sessions slated for the conference are ones discussing food sovereignty in Indian Country and the battles over treaty fishing rights.

For Grand Ronde Tribal members, the conference cost can be paid through the Tribe's Higher Education Noncredit Program, said Tribal member and Education Specialist Bryan Langley.

"Applications are due 10 days before the event," Langley said.