It’s our responsibility to educate others about the past — so we can create a better present and future, together.
That starts by acknowledging Indigenous voices have always mattered — and they still do. The art exhibition “This IS Kalapuyan Land” helps build understanding that the land in which we live and learn was taken from the Kalapuyan people.
Making its first debut at Portland’s Five Oaks Museum in 2019, the outdoor exhibition — made up of ten signs — arrived on campus in the spring of 2021 through collaboration with an Oregon State advisory committee and the museum’s guest curator, Steph Littlebird Fogel. The signs, featured throughout campus and in the OSU research forests, celebrate traditional art like beading, combined with powerful paintings, sculptures, baskets and other pieces that call attention to the many effects of colonization: family separation, missing and murdered Indigenous women, American brands that perpetuate stereotypes and others.
In addition to the original ten featured signs, three new pieces were created by Chanti Manon, an ethnic studies and studio art student in the College of Liberal Arts. One of her creations features Eliza Young, who spent the early years of colonization as a farmwife’s helper. Another details the loss William Hartless experienced as the last speaker of the Champinefu Kalapuya language. Her third sign shows the traditional practice of picking and harvesting camas, also known as t’ip. Each sign is poignant in different ways, showcasing the stark reality of a world before and after the Oregon Territory’s settlement.
To prompt discussions and encourage Oregon State students and faculty to learn more about these critical topics, the exhibition included three virtual talks via Facebook in May. Each included a panel of guest speakers and covered the impact of revamping the original Five Oaks exhibition, a discussion with featured artists and talks about tribal histories and connections.
A larger, virtual sample of “This IS Kalapuyan Land” can also be viewed at fiveoaksmuseum.org.
Art tells a story. It builds awareness, evokes emotion and calls for change. It’s up to us to take the next step.