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Portland marks Native American Heritage Month with Indigenous portraits

Installations can be found on building exteriors across the heart of Portland

A woman stands before a portrait of herself affixed to a brick building.

“We Are The Land” portraits spotlight local Native American activists, volunteers, and community members.

Photo by Josue Rivas via Tribal Relations/INDÍGENA

November is Native American Heritage Month, also known as American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month.

First designated in 1990 as “National American Indian Heritage Month” by then-President George H.W. Bush, the recognition reminds us of the importance of celebrating rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and acknowledging the important contributions of Native people. It’s also intended to raise awareness about the past and current challenges Native people face — and the work that remains to be done.

In honor of Native American Heritage Month, the City of Portland Tribal Relations team partnered with the Indigenous storytelling collective, INDÍGENA, to showcase portraits of local Native people in public spaces.

The “We Are The Land” installations are meant to connect Portlanders to the spirit of local Native tribes while highlighting the diversity, beauty, and strength of the urban Indigenous community. The city said the project will help it and its partners “further integrate, protect, and uphold the sacrality of Indigeneity” by sparking much-needed conversations.

Two people walk past a brick building with several portraits of Indigenous people pasted along the side.

A final installation from the project will reportedly appear at OMSI for six to eight months.

Photo by Josue Rivas via Tribal Relations/INDÍGENA

With the help of the City Arts Program, Regional Arts and Culture Council, and Multnomah County and Metro, portraits by local photographer Josué Rivas were affixed to the exterior of several buildings in the heart of the city.

Here’s where you can find the portraits through the month of November:

  • RACC | 411 NW Park Ave.
  • Northeast Health Center | 5329 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
  • OMSI | 1945 SE Water Ave.
  • Native Arts and Cultures Foundation | 800 SE 10th Ave.
  • Multnomah County Elections Division | 1040 SE Morrison St.
  • Multnomah County Courthouse | 1200 SW First Ave.
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