Curatorial Projects

Indigenous Coast Narrative Project (ICNP)

Project: Reclaiming the Camino

The Indigenous California Narrative Project (ICNP) is a multi-year, multi-phase partnership among the Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation, Live Oak Consulting, and the Autry Museum of the American West, that will transform the existing narrative about coastal California indigenous histories impacted by missionization and colonization.

From the Bay Area to the tip of Baja California, the ICNP will engage in a series of multi-media interventions that will assert a powerful new set of values and core stories about who we are as Native California people, celebrating the resistance and revitalization of the indigenous peoples of the Greater (Alta, Baja, Baja-Sur) California Coast.

The primary purpose of the ICNP is to provide Native communities of the Californias with new ways to express ourselves and our histories in our own voices, to be heard and seen in a place where our histories have been erased and our experiences invalidated by colonial-imagined narratives. The project will ultimately culminate in an expansive, long-term, Native-designed and curated museum exhibit at the Autry Museum of the American West, with additional traveling exhibits that will be installed in key locations throughout California, a website that will house place-based indigenous narratives, and educational materials for California’s K-12 schools.

Through this project, the ICNP strives to elevate indigenous voices in the narrative that shapes public perceptions of Native peoples of the Greater Californias. This reframing takes back authority from colonial strongholds, such as Missions, presidios, and non-Native academic institutions, honoring the original stewards of this land, building compassion for our struggle, and re-establishing a story that connects people to the land. We believe this is an essential step in the healing of both the land and the People.

Newe Ghani

Project: Community-informed recommendations for a new cultural center.

Buildings and built landscapes represent a cultural sense of place. With cultural knowledge and experience, these new places layered atop older places, will become even more meaningful and socially important. To provide recommendations for a new cultural center for the Western Shoshone, Live Oak will conduct community-based workshops that explore, identify, and refine the stakeholders’ visions and requirements for the project. A vision and implementation strategy will reflect the community’s visions, needs, and opportunities.

deYoung Museum- San Francisco, CA 

Project: Collections research, writing and exhibition consultation. Research, writing and editing for catalogue.

Editors Bruce Bernstein, Deana Dartt, Christina Hellmich, and Hillary Olcott contributed to a catalogue highlighting the Native North American Art Collection at the deYoung Museum. The Thomas W. Weisel Family Collection consists of over 200 works, including pottery, weavings, drawings, and carvings. Over twenty contributors shared their insight for this fully-illustrated catalogue.

Portland Japanese Garden

Project: Forest of Dreams – Ainu and Native American Wood Carving
Exhibit planning, research, outreach and interviews, writing and design, and art commissions

The third in the Garden’s Art in the Garden for the Year of Hokkaido, the Forest of Dreams exhibition brought together the artistry and traditions of indigenous peoples of Japan and the Columbia River Region to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Portland-Sapporo Sister City Association. This exhibition of woodcarving from both sides of the Pacific revisited the Garden’s 2008 Parallel Worlds exhibition, which showcased the ceremonial robes and textile arts of both Ainu and Northwest Native American cultures in a first-of-its-kind exhibition.

The exhibition included monumental welcome figures and other carved art which honored the cultural aesthetic of the Ainu people of Hokkaido and the Columbia River peoples of Oregon.

Both native cultures have ancient relationships and therefore, artistic expressions that revealed their learning from and living as stewards of an with respect to the natural world.

Welcome figures carved by artists on both sides of the Pacific will be installed on the Overlook and an exhibition of smaller works occupied the Tanabe and Pavilion Galleries. Ainu Artists included the late Takeki Fujito, as well as carvers Mamoru Kaizawa and Toru Kaizawa. Among Columbia River Native artists, were Greg Archuleta, Tony Johnson, Bobby Mercier, and Greg A. Robinson.

Renate| Museum Planning and Design- Portland, OR

Project: Research, writing, editing for Museum of Us exhibition, experience plan.

Bacara Resort and Spa- Santa Barbara, CA

Project: The Chumash of Tecolote Canyon Exhibit
Exhibit planning, research, outreach and interviews, writing and design, art commissions, and installation

Lane County History Museum, Eugene OR

Project: Their Hearts are in This Land. June 2017-June 2018

The exhibit explored the dynamic and diverse Native communities of this place we call home and highlights living Native cultures rather than stories of the past. This exhibit, a collaboration between the Museum Studies students at the University of Oregon, local Native people, and the Lane County History Museum, ran for one year.

While some of the people and cultures represented in this exhibit were indeed descendants of ancient ancestors indigenous to this region, others descend from families transplanted here as a result of a U.S. policy, aimed at terminating its constitutional relationships with tribes. Many others came to Oregon by force to the boarding school at Chemawa through the early 1900s or by choice in recent decades. Others came and continue to come, to attend the University of Oregon, which celebrates their cultures and actively recruits from Native communities. There are thousands of Native people in western Oregon and there are as many stories as there are people.

Our primary goal, through consultation with local Native people, was to connect the public to those stories and hopefully generate the dialogue we see missing in the settler narrative of the Lane County Historical Museum. Our goal was not to tell those stories—as they are not ours to tell—but to invite you to learn from this representation of tribal lifeways, cultures, and traditions and leave with a desire to learn more. We offered only a glimpse into the complex and deep history of Native people in Western Oregon.

Our secondary goal was to actively disrupt limiting, damaging, and long-held misconceptions about Native people. Many visitors to history museums arrive with commonly held stereotypes and misinformation. Unfortunately, history museums often perpetuate these and therefore affirm false information. We aimed to interrupt those misconceptions and, at the same time, we introduced more meaningful notions of Native cultures for you to consider. We hope you will unlearn some things, learn a few more, and leave with a new appreciation for the resistance, resilience, and revitalization of Native cultures and lifeways. We also hope you develop a new appreciation for the great efforts of these people, whose hearts are in this land.