Titwáatit Gallery Boosting Colville Native Artists

The Art Gallery

The Art Gallery

When the front door opens, a chime rings and each visitor is greeted with the sound of Northern Plains drumming and the smell of freshly-burned sage. At first glance, a visitor might notice the intricate beadwork on a belt in the front room, or be drawn to a hand-woven basket perfectly poised on a stand in the foyer.

The Northwest Native Development Fund (NNDF) has meticulously created a pure Plateau Native American art experience through the development of the Titwáatit Native Art Gallery in Grand Coulee Dam, Washington. The fund worked closely with local artists to display their art in a way to attract the visitor and highlight the beauty of each piece.

Ric Gendron paints intently at the art show.

Ric Gendron paints intently at the art show.

As a recipient of a Native Arts Initiative grant from First Nations Development Institute (First Nations), NNDF was able to establish this permanent space, the Titwáatit Native Art Gallery, for artists to train, facilitate workshops, and sell their art near the Colville Indian Reservation. NNDF chose this location to reach Native artists and community members on the reservation, as well as the non-Native consumers passing through to view the historical Grand Coulee Dam.

“Currently, on the Colville Reservation, there is a need for easier access to traditional Native artwork. By opening the Native artist studio near the Colville Reservation, NNDF will provide a more professional platform for artists to showcase their work and community members to engage with the artists,” said Ted Piccolo, Executive Director of NNDF. “In an ever-inflating economy, we hope to help our Native artists prosper financially, allowing them to continue chasing their passions, while providing traditional Native artwork to our communities.”

Christine Buckminster at the art show.

Christine Buckminster at the art show.

The idea of the gallery was created through discussions around the success of NNDF’s Annual Plains Native Art Show. The show’s curators recognized the need to showcase the local artists and talent on a regular basis. NNDF staff worked diligently to raise the funding to support the development and management of a Plateau Native art gallery and studio for the summer of 2018. In addition to raising funding for the new Titwáatit Native Art Gallery, NNDF understood the need to simultaneously showcase the artists while generating the tools and support for the artists to build their individual businesses. To accomplish this, 10 Native artists are participating in NNDF’s intensive Native Artists Business and Entrepreneurial Training throughout 2018 to strengthen their business practices.

Cheryl Grunlose at the art show.

Cheryl Grunlose at the art show.

To date, Titwáatit has sold several local artist pieces. Because this art gallery is supported through grant funding, all proceeds go directly to the artists. NNDF also saw much success at the Annual Plateau Native Art Show on August 25, 2018. In spite of the heavy smoke conditions from the West Coast fires, NNDF saw incredible turnout, hosting 12 local artists and over 60 attendees. The art show produced 12 juried exhibitions, contributing four prizes to participating artists.

“With our programmatic effort and partnership with First Nations Development Institute, we hope to create a more sustainable and prosperous environment for our Native arts community,” noted Piccolo. “Creating access to the community is imperative in this endeavor, and NNDF hopes to bridge that gap in our community.”

By Stephanie Cote, First Nations Program Coordinator

Muckleshoot “Rethink Your Drink” Effort Aims for a Healthy Tribe

Healthy beverage posters intended for display in classrooms and throughout tribal communities to promote ancestral beverage consumption.

Healthy beverage posters intended for display in classrooms and throughout tribal communities to promote ancestral beverage consumption.

In 2016, under one of its programs, First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) awarded 15 grants totaling $422,500. These grants were funded by the Seeds of Native Health campaign created by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) to improve the nutrition of Native Americans across the country. One of the grantees was the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe’s Traditional Foods and Medicines Program and its “Native Infusion: Rethink Your Drink Campaign.”

The project’s focus is to encourage tribal youth to incorporate and increase traditional, ancestral beverages, fruits and vegetables – healthy foods – into their diets. By focusing on traditional, ancestral beverages and foods, the tribe hopes to reduce the consumption of sugary drinks and improve the health of the younger tribal members to combat diabetes, obesity and tooth decay later in life.

Valerie Segrest

Valerie Segrest

Valerie Segrest is the Traditional Foods and Medicines Program manager, and a tribal member. Segrest says the implementation of the “Rethink Your Drink Campaign” is an important part of creating change in the eating habits of the tribe’s youth and their community.

“The discussion is focused on the facts and information … our communities have been disempowered for so long that we need to start with culture in the discussion. To let them (the community) be the driving force, so they feel more empowered to take their health into their own hands,” said Segrest.

Six healthy beverage posters were created by two Salish artists, Roger Fernandes (Lower Elwha) and Joe Seymour (Sqauxin), who drew the images; and Annie Brule, who was the graphic designer. The posters will be displayed throughout the tribal community in the schools and community centers. A curriculum guide was created and made available to educators to increase the number of people who can teach the youth about traditional diets and how to make healthy beverage choices.

A tea bar display that includes several herbs highlighted in the curriculum and recipe book.

A tea bar display that includes several herbs highlighted in the curriculum and recipe book.

Segrest and her colleague, Elise Krohn, M.Ed., co-authored Native Infusion: Rethink Your Drink – A Guide to Ancestral Beverages, which is included in the toolkit. The guide is extensive and provides information on how to “Navigate the Beverage Aisle” to avoid the sugary drinks; information on the six posters and how the images connect to the ancestral drinks and cultural teachings; how to make infused waters, herbal teas, sodas, bone broths and smoothies; how to set up a beverage station; and where to find further information and resources.

The curriculum includes how to set up an interactive, traditional, healthy beverage station. It includes ingredients for participants to make their own blends as well as pre-made teas such as dandelion root lattes and Douglas fir tip infused water.

The curriculum includes how to set up an interactive, traditional, healthy beverage station. It includes ingredients for participants to make their own blends as well as pre-made teas such as dandelion root lattes and Douglas fir tip infused water.

The Muckleshoot Tribe offered a one-day nutrition education summit in mid-May 2017 with 40 educators, tribal community members and youth leaders trained on using the healthy beverage toolkit. Youth representatives, mostly middle-schoolers from the Muckleshoot Tribal School, attended, along with youth from the after-school program.

There were guest speakers who addressed the health impacts of sugary drinks, the healthy beverage movement in British Columbia, and how to set up beverage stations. The summit was more than handing out information. It strived to engage the attendees and to encourage dialog to reinforce that the return to creating and drinking traditional healthy beverages is an act of tribal sovereignty.

“We traded our ancestral drinks in for the sugar and energy drinks, which don’t have our health in mind. There is a rich cultural tradition in our healthy beverages,” said Segrest.

Dr. Rose James discusses the importance of evaluating the reach of the healthy beverage campaign.

Dr. Rose James discusses the importance of evaluating the reach of the healthy beverage campaign.

At the one-day nutrition education summit, Segrest and Krohn demonstrated how to make bone broth, and teas out of leaves and flowers versus bark, roots and hard berries. Attendees also learned how to harvest, dry and store the teas correctly. There were beverage stations set up so people could sample the various teas, which reinforced the accessibility and taste of the teas.

Infused waters were made with fruits and vegetables to encourage the drinking of water. One theme Segrest often hears is that water has no taste, so people avoid drinking it. The infused waters gives people options and encourages them to stay hydrated.

The participants went home with their toolkits made up of the six posters to display around their communities, along with the guide and a tribal recipe book, which included a section on beverages. The recipe book is another Muckleshoot project supported by the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board and the Centers for Disease Control’s Good Health and Wellness in Indian Country (GHWIC) program. Segrest utilizes all available resources to maximize her program outreach and funding. She saw an opportunity to add beverage recipe cards to the existing popular recipe program that features foods specific to the area.

Presenters Fiona Deveraux (left) and Dr. Gary Ferguson (seated) listen intently as participants share their experiences teaching about healthy food traditions in tribal communities.

Presenters Fiona Deveraux (left) and Dr. Gary Ferguson (seated) listen intently as participants share their experiences teaching about healthy food traditions in tribal communities.

Segrest reminded the participants that “sovereignty isn’t an end goal, it’s something we do every day. Drinking ancestral beverages is a political act.”

Segrest and her colleagues will continue to provide trainings over the next several months and she is thankful to the Shakopee Seeds of Native Health campaign, the Muckleshoot Tribe’s Traditional Foods Program, and to First Nations for supporting her work as an activist for her community.

“The work wouldn’t be as prevalent or as strong without the support of First Nations, and it’s not just due to the funding, but to the relationships built with the folks within the organization. First Nations brings people together to feed off each other – to think, to partner. At First Nations’ gatherings you’re able to cross-pollinate with others, which reminds you that you’re not alone.”

The Seeds of Native Health effort encompasses efforts to improve awareness of Native nutrition problems, promote wider application of proven best practices, and encourage additional work related to food access, education and research. First Nations was one of SMSC’s strategic, inaugural partners in the effort. The campaign builds on localized efforts to solve the problems of Native American nutrition and hopes to raise awareness, spread knowledge, create capacity for change, and develop additional solutions on a broader scale.

By Mary K. Bowannie, First Nations Communications Officer