Broken Treaties

Connecting Art And Culture: Native American Artists In Oregon

By Jessica Martin (OPB)
Portland, Oregon March 21, 2017 1:30 a.m.

In its 17 years, "Oregon Art Beat" has traveled everywhere — from Salem to Pendleton, from Vancouver to Burns — to profile some of the many Native American artists creating work right here in Oregon.

We’ve seen contemporary painting, sculpture and basketry. We've heard genre-defying music. We’ve witnessed the power of storytelling through not only words but also photography, wood carving and fabric arts.


Here are just a few artists you should know about.

"If we think about that time that goes all the way back and with the tremendous amount of cultural loss and gap, as people reconnect to their cultural and they reconnect to their spirituality, as well, because the two are inseparable, and the art is a part of that reconnection."

Greg A. Robinson

Chinook carver-artist

"Growing up on the Crow reservation, being Crow, things tend to be separated, like, ‘Oh, that’s a native person’s history, and I know about it but I don’t really relate to it or it’s happening to them.’ And for me , I kind of like to break that down. We’re all experiencing this history together, and that’s very much your history, too, not just my history.”

Wendy Red Star

Multimedia artist

“A painting is a stage for all of these little events. And these events create an experience of interaction that we have. It’s not really a picture of something — it is something. And we interact with it and we walk away with an experience.”

James Lavadour


Painter And printmaker

Rick Bartow

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"... I'm just an artist who thinks people and animals share the same bed, and if the bed isn't comfortable for them, it's not going to comfortable for us for very long."

Rick Bartow

Painter, printer And carver

Contemporary Artist Ka'ila Farrell-Smith

"Thinking about my ancestral lineage to this land, you feel it at this really deep level and sometimes it can be really sad knowing we don't have the same connection. But there's this need to build a new connection or a reconnection."

Ka’ila Farrell-Smith

Multimedia Artist

Ceramicist Lillian Pitt

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"It's my power that I know who I am, where I'm from, who my people were. We've been here a few thousand years and we've got something here to show for it."

Lillian Pitt