Squaxin Tribe and Longhouse Receive $100,000 NEA Grant

The fiber arts are woven through the lives of most Indigenous tribes, including those of the South Puget Sound. They are used as tribal identifiers, in clothing, ceremony and home décor, as well as basketry to store items for every need.

The weekend of October 3-5 nearly 700 visitors converged on the Squaxin Island Tribal Center for a regional basket weaving conference, organized by the Northwest Native American Basketweavers Association.  The conference had partial support from a recently-announced $100,000 Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) for a partnership between the Squaxin Island Tribe and The Evergreen State College’s Longhouse Education and Cultural Center.  The Our Town grant will be the second such grant that partnership has received.

Our Town is the NEA’s two-year old leadership initiative focused on creative placemaking projects. In creative placemaking, partners from both public and private sectors come together to strategically shape the physical and social character of a neighborhood, town, city, or region around arts and cultural activities.

Last year, recognizing the significance of water to the culture of the Puget Sound, NEA awarded the partnership $100,000 for the 2012 Canoe Journey, in which the 400-person Squaxin tribe, with assistance from Evergreen, hosted a gathering of thousands of Native Americans who arrived in over 100 canoes, along with non-Native participants who wanted to learn about the tribes.

“The Squaxin Island Tribe expressed their cultural identity in so many beautiful ways as hosts of the 2012 Tribal Canoe Journey—in the regalia they made, the art that was gifted to thousands of participants, and the many community members of all ages that filled the ceremonial protocol stage. People are still talking about how well they represented themselves as hosts of the 2012 Tribal Canoe Journey,” noted Evergreen Longhouse Director Tina Kuckkahn-Miller.

National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Landesman said, “Communities across our country are using smart design and leveraging the arts to enhance quality of life and promote their distinctive identities. 

In addition to the NEA grant, The Evergreen Longhouse has received capital construction grants from the Ford Foundation, and will receive a Governor’s Arts and Heritage Award as a Heritage Organization this fall.  Longhouse architect Johnpaul Jones (Choctaw), will receive a Heritage Artist award from the Governor, and Evergreen student Earl Davis (Shoalwater Bay Tribe) will receive a Young Arts Leader Award at the Governor’s Arts and Heritage Awards ceremony in Seattle on October 28.

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The National Endowment for the Arts