Tribe holding annual History & Culture Summit

09.29.2016 Brent Merrill Culture, Events, Tribal Employees

If you go

Grand Ronde History and Culture Summit

When: Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 26-27

Where: Tribal gym, 9615 Grand Ronde Road

Cost: $25 registration fee; free for Tribal members and staff. $25 for dinner at achaf-hammi on Wednesday evening.



The 2016 edition of the Tribe’s annual History and Culture Summit will occur in Grand Ronde at the Tribal gymnasium on Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 26-27, with a focus not only on the positive work being done by people locally, but also on people and projects that are making a difference throughout Indian Country.

Cultural Resources Department Manager David Harrelson said that he would view the fourth installment of the event as being successful if Grand Ronde Tribal members and employees attend in large numbers.

“It looks like it’s going to be a reoccurring theme. Our goal for the event is we want as many Tribal members and employees to come as possible,” said Harrelson. “We really felt like we needed to try and bring in Tribal members because we want them to be a part of it. We are prepared to continue to do it every year.”

Summit Coordinator Rebecca Knight said “cultural continuity” is the theme of this year’s summit that will consist of two days of interdisciplinary lectures and discussions and feature sessions on anthropology, culture, history, archaeology and environment.

Harrelson assigned a team to facilitate the event that includes Knight, Senior Archaeologist Briece Edwards, Cultural Protection Coordinator Jordan Mercier and Cultural Collections Supervisor Veronica Montano.

Harrelson will present on Tribal history and host an Oregon Humanities-sponsored conversation about “place.” Edwards will present on the effects of changing sea levels among related topics. Montano will present a workshop on the special handling of Tribal collections and Mercier will team with Sky Hopinka to present on Native history in the media.

Hopinka, who is a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation and a descendant of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, is a filmmaker who currently lives in Milwaukee, Wis., and received his bachelor’s degree from Portland State University.

Hopinka is among a growing list of people with a story to tell that will be coming to Grand Ronde for the summit.

Other guest speakers and presenters will include Larry Campbell of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community and Native research professor Dr. Christopher Horsethief.

Campbell is currently working on projects involving climate change for his Tribe and Horsethief is developing a theory of education that acknowledges trauma as a tool for learning.

“We want to create a summit where that same type of exposure that a lot of our staff has all the time was available to other Tribal employees and Tribal members,” said Harrelson. “We’re going to share highlights from different areas and issues that affect the Tribe and our homelands, and we’re highlighting successes outside the Tribe that we’ve seen.”

Also scheduled to present at this year’s summit are indigenous language specialist Jedd Shrock, who will present on Molalla text, and Nisqually Tribal Council member Hanford McCloud, who will share his Tribe’s experiences hosting this summer’s Canoe Journey.

Mercier has been coordinating the speakers for the event.

“We’re trying to create a place where we can share the things that we are working on at the Tribe – different projects that each department is working on that they want to highlight,” said Mercier. “The membership gets the opportunity to see what’s going on and get a more in-depth view and a chance to ask questions. But this year we’re also trying to bring in more external people to talk about projects that they are working on with their Tribes that may be of interest to us – things that we’re not working on yet, but people have talked about and expressed an interest in.”

Harrelson and Mercier hope the people who attend will begin or continue to increase their own personal and professional scope.

“The idea is to bring fresh ideas in that people can grab on to and also give these presenters that are doing this work in these other communities a chance to network here and network with any of the people who are at the conference,” said Mercier. “It’s good to get people talking and excited about things that the Tribe works on. Seeing people talking and engaging each other is a really good thing.”

Montano said she hopes the trend of finding important items related to Tribal history and turning them over to the Tribe for preservation continues.

“We want to bring more awareness to the community at large about us, our people,” said Montano during a recent summit planning meeting.

Harrelson echoed Montano’s thoughts when he said sharing the awareness they, as a staff, are privileged to have is paramount.

“This year we really opened it up to programs and people that we are inspired by,” said Harrelson. “They have perspectives to share that fuel people and get them thinking.”

Harrelson said the summit fits into the bigger Tribal picture in that the event is “transparency realized.” He said the staff members at the Tribe’s cultural program believe in sharing their knowledge as much as possible.

“When program staff from the Tribe get up and are talking about what their programs are and there are questions afterward, then there is the ability to become familiar enough to have dialogue and to engage,” said Harrelson.

“We want to ensure that our work is based in the community. The community participates and there is an exchange that occurs. We share what’s been happening, but then the community has the opportunity to share how that impacted them, how it is significant to them. It creates opportunity for involvement.”