Tribal Government & News
Tilikum Village to be featured at Sept. 12 bridge opening
By Dean Rhodes
Smoke Signals editor
PORTLAND – For the first time in hundreds of years, a Native American village will occupy the western banks of the Willamette River in downtown Portland during the Tilikum Crossing grand opening on Saturday, Sept. 12.
The new $135 million, 1,720-foot transit bridge over the Willamette River will connect Portland with Milwaukie for TriMet buses and light rail. It will be officially opened with a 9 a.m. procession that will be led by Grand Ronde Tribal representatives.
After the procession, Tilikum Village will occupy the western side of the bridge from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. The village will include drumming and interTribal and exhibition dancing, cultural demonstrations (cedar bracelets and roses, beaded necklaces and canoe carving), a Chachalu mobile museum, a children’s area (coloring station, face painting, temporary tattoos, giveaways), a traditional longhouse and summer house for viewing, food for purchase and a traditional salmon bake.
From noon to 1 p.m., the Grand Ronde Canoe Family will paddle on the Willamette River and Tribal canoes will be displayed for viewing from 2 to 6 p.m. The Canoe Family also will demonstrate protocols with songs and dances.
In addition, a limited edition Tilikum Crossing Pendleton blanket will be available for purchase ($149 for Tribal members and $249 for others).
The new bridge received a Chinuk Wawa name in April 2014.
The Grand Ronde Tribe suggested a Native name to honor the original peoples of the Portland area, which is part of the Grand Ronde Tribe’s ceded lands.
The proposed name, tilikum, is a Chinuk Wawa word for people, family or a gathering. Historically, the word is spelled “tilixam,” a Chinuk Wawa word that is difficult to pronounce.
In the interest of giving the general public a word that is easy to say, the Tribe proposed spelling the word with a “k” instead.
The Tribe’s proposed name was one of four finalists and the public was invited to vote on their favorite. The TriMet Naming Committee unanimously choose “Tilikum” – “Bridge of the People” -- as the new bridge’s name.
Earlier this year, the Tribe also gifted two basalt carvings and a large bronze medallion to TriMet that will help remind Portland and its residents that Native Americans have lived and continue to live along the shores of the river since time immemorial.
All three pieces, collectively called “We Have Always Lived Here,” were created by Chinook artist Greg A. Robinson at the Gresham home of Grand Ronde Tribal member Greg Archuleta.
The Tribe’s Public Affairs Department is still recruiting Tribal members to volunteer at or participate in the bridge’s grand opening. For more information, contact Public Affairs Administrative Assistant Chelsea Clark at 503-879-1418 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tilikum Village is being organized by Clark and Tribal Council Chief of Staff Stacia Martin in coordination with TriMet.