The Cultural Resources Department of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde in collaboration with the Willamette Heritage Center at The Mill presented a special exhibition from April 8 to May 30 entitled “Grand Ronde’s Canoe Journey.”
“This exhibition brings to life the cultural importance and heritage of the historic shovelnose canoes used by the Native Peoples to travel throughout the Willamette Valley. These canoes, perfect for the shallow Willamette River, were smaller and more agile than the larger, more familiar Chinook style canoes that plied the Columbia.”
Like most of the North American Indians, the Indians of coastal Oregon and Washington did not live in tipis. The traditional house form of this region was the long house. Shown above is a model of a typical long house for this area.
The shovelnose canoe (shown above) was made from a single log which was split and then hollowed out.
None of the more than 500 Native American languages has a word which can be translated as “art.” Art was not a separate category, but was (and still is) incorporated into everyday life. Thus items used regularly, such as the canoe paddles and the drums shown above, were decorated.
The Northwest Coast tends to be a rainy area and the woven rain hat is one of the major features of the area. In addition, as can be seen in the photos above, the people created jewelry from a variety of materials, including dentalium shells.
Obsidian, a type of volcanic glass, was highly prized for make very sharp stone blades. In some instances, such as those shown above, large blades were made as a way of showing wealth. These were (and still are) traded over long distances.
The tools used for making houses and canoes often included some of the wooden tools shown above.
Over the past decade there has been a revitalization of traditional canoe building among the Northwest Coast Nations. Shown above are some of the pictures of the modern canoes from the exhibit.