Friday - July 24, 2015

Tribal Artwork Dedication Ceremony

On Monday, July 20 at George Rogers Park (611 State Street, Lake Oswego), the Lake Oswego Tigard Water Partnership hosted the dedication ceremony for a new cultural resources interpretive exhibit, which features educational signage and a sculpture created by Travis Stewart, a member of the Grand Ronde Tribes.

Photos by Doug Vorwaller

During the event, members of the Grande Ronde Tribes canoed the sculpture to shore from the Willamette River, as other members welcomed them in with a tribal song featuring traditional drums. Once the sculpture was brought to shore it was secured to its foundation, located on the lower lawn area near the beach. The sculpture foundation was formed and donated by Emery & Sons Construction, Inc., the Partnership’s contractor who is installing the new water pipeline through several portions of Lake Oswego this year.

Guest speakers for the dedication included Lake Oswego Mayor Kent Studebaker, Tribal Council Member Denise Harvey, Grande Ronde Tribes Historic Preservation Officer Dave Harrelson, Travis Stewart and Joel Komarek, Partnership project director.

The sculpture is a “Power Figure” representing an important tribal story. According to historical texts, a headman of the village travelled to Willamette Falls in search of food during a particularly harsh winter, in which cold and starvation threatened his village. He returned with eels and instructed the people of the village on how to prepare and cook them. Those that followed his council survived. Those who did not, starved and were turned to stone. The sculpture is comprised of steel with a carved cedar head.

This exhibit was created because the Partnership’s pipeline will pass through a cultural resources site, known as the Burnett Site, in Lake Oswego’s Old Town Neighborhood. This particular site is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, which means mitigation is required by State and Federal law to compensate for the construction impacts. The Partnership is committed to installing pipe in a sensitive manner in relation to the environment and cultural resources. Therefore, the Partnership worked with the State Historic Preservation Office and the Grand Ronde Tribes to develop a mitigation plan, including the development and installation of a cultural resources exhibit that incorporates artwork and interpretive signage to portray the historical culture and context for the native peoples that lived in the area.

To help guide the development of the exhibit, the Partnership created the Cultural Resources Exhibit Committee comprised of members from the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, Historical Resources Advisory Board, Lake Oswego Arts Council, and representatives from the Grand Ronde Tribes. Members included Nancy Gronowski, Ivan Anderholm, Jeannie McGuire, Nancy Nye, Bob Liddell and Joel Komarek.

The Lake Oswego Tigard Water Partnership would like to thank everyone who was involved in making this a unique and memorable experience. If you’d like a recap of the event, the Lake Oswego Review and Tigard Times produced this story:

Stay tuned for a video capturing the event and the story behind the sculpture, which will be shared shortly.