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Youth from the Yoncalla Indian Cultural Group shared an evening of singing, drumming, and storytelling with the community.
Pony Gilbert, local tribal member and storyteller, shared his passion for storytelling with the Cottage Grove community.
Local singer/songwriter Michael Jeans shared an evening of music and conversation
Gift baskets at the Collage Grove Public Library.
Esther Stutzman, Kalapooia Indian, and youth from the Yoncalla Indian Cultural Group, shared an evening of singing, drumming, and storytelling with the community.
Main Street in Cottage Grove, Oregon.
Picturing America Indian Programs
Cottage Grove Public Library, Cottage Grove, OR
Project Director: Pete Barrell
Target Audience: Family, Adult, Teen, Children
Library Size: Under 25,000
“With the Picturing America Programming Grant we were able to provide a venue and opportunity to celebrate, share, and understand Indian Culture. These Picturing America–inspired special events brought together the Cottage Grove Community (mostly white and of European ancestry) with Tribal Members from across the community and region. These two groups, who historically have had little interaction, found opportunities for common ground and understanding through experiencing Tribal culture, both historic and contemporary.”
The Cottage Grove Public Library (CGPL) sought to honor the Native American tribes of their region in southwestern Oregon, by presenting a month of programming honoring Native American history, culture and tradition. The library collaborated heavily with local Cow Creek, Coquille, and Grand Ronde Indian Tribes, with members from these tribes providing ideas for programming and events, as well as suggestions for Native American–themed materials that could be added to the library’s collection. Funding from these tribes also brought the “Oregon is Indian Country” exhibit to the Cottage Grove Public Library as a permanent display during their Picturing America Indian Programming period. CGPL worked with these tribes and other community organizations to create programs for the entire community, incorporating music, storytelling, and crafts into programs led by local tribal members and leaders.
Use of the Artwork
The Native American images within the Picturing America artwork collection—including Pottery and Baskets, Cover Illustration for Last of the Mohicans, Catlin Painting the Portrait of Mah-to-toh-pa-Mandan, and “Sans Arc Lakota” Ledger Book—were featured in a special exhibit at all of the CGPL Native American programs and special events.
Programs and Ideas
Opening Ceremony: This special event brought together tribal people from across Oregon and the Cottage Grove community, serving as a welcome and blessing of the “Oregon Is Indian Country” exhibit and Picturing America Programming special events. Nez Perce Elder Roy Hayes Jr. led the ceremony and spoke to the group about family and tribal tradition, and the library, exhibit, art work, food, and audience were all cleansed and blessed. The ceremony also included a Seven Drum Blessing, in which individual drummers drummed and sang their song of blessing.
Storytelling, Singing, and Drumming: Pony Gilbert, local tribal member and storyteller, shared his passion for storytelling with the Cottage Grove community. Pony wore traditional attire of leather, feathers, beads, and bear claws, and was accompanied at times during the evening by his young children. Pony drummed and sang and shared traditional stories of his People.
Yoncalla Youth Culture Group Presentation: Esther Stutzman, Kalapooia Indian, and youth from the Yoncalla Indian Cultural Group, shared an evening of singing, drumming, and storytelling with the community. Esther, an elder storyteller, spoke to the group about Indian history, culture, and lifestyles from both a traditional and contemporary perspective.
Leather and Feathers, Michael Jeans Singer/Songwriter: Local singer/songwriter Michael Jeans shared an evening of music and conversation with the Cottage Grove community. Michael recently created the musical score to Portland-based Medicine Bow Films for use in the film Cangleska Wakan or Sacred Hoop, and he shared his experiences writing and singing music inspired by indigenous culture.
Storytelling and Medicine Bag Craft Project: This event brought a local third grade class to the library to experience storytelling with Nez Perce Elder Roy Hayes Jr. The group also participated in a craft project taught by the Indian Education Coordinators from two local school districts, which resulted in each child creating a wonderful leather Medicine Bag. During the craft project, the leaders talked to the group about Indian culture, teaching them words and sharing with the group details of Indian life, both historic and contemporary.
Closing Ceremony and Celebration with the Stone River Community: Members from the Stone River Community Drummers group shared insights into Indian Culture, and invited the audience to join in and help play the big communal drum and sing.
- Cow Creek band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians
- Coquille Indian Tribe
- The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde
- “Oregon is Indian Country” traveling exhibit, from the Oregon Historical Society
- “Cangleska Wakan/Sacred Hoop”
The Indian-themed special events that we were able to put on as a result of the Picturing America Programming Grant funding had a huge and very positive impact on our library and community. Truly, friendships were forged and community togetherness was fostered—people came together and shared with one another in ways that were surprising and wonderful for all involved. There were numerous events where everyone in the room ended up in tears, as Indian Elders shared their culture, their music, their stories, their prayers with non-Indian community members in ways that had never happened before. Indian Elders remarked repeatedly how honored they were to be invited to our library to share and interact with others, as this had never happened before in their lives. They felt honored and appreciated as never before. As a result of this experience, we have decided that every January will be a month-long celebration of Indian culture here at the Cottage Grove Public Library. With our new Indian friends, we have already come up with new and exciting ideas for next year’s celebration!