Last October, in a resolution proclaiming the second Monday in October as Indigenous People’s Day across greater Portland, the Metro Council recognized that this region “is built upon the ancestral homelands, villages and traditional use areas of the Indigenous People and tribes who have been caretakers of these lands we cherish since time immemorial."
Earlier in the year, Metro had awarded a $750,000 grant to the City of Portland and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI), who will engage a broad coalition of partners to explore development of the Center for Tribal Nations and a waterfront education park. The project seeks to leverage the redevelopment of the OMSI property to model a new partnership between OMSI, tribal and inter-tribal organizations, the greater Portland Native American community and the City of Portland to restore the Native community’s presence on the Willamette.
The United States has a history of violence against Indigenous People, including termination and assimilation policies, broken treaties and relocation — wrongs that have taken place in Oregon and across the country.
“This grant is part of Metro’s efforts to acknowledge that history,” said Metro Councilor Bob Stacey. “Metro recognizes the fact that Indigenous People have made, and continue to make, immense contributions and innovations to the arts, education, health, economic development, environmental stewardship and civic community that make greater Portland a better place to live and work. The grant will help project partners create access and opportunity for the greater Portland Native American community through this project.”
The planning grant will allow the project partners to engage tribes, tribal organizations and the Native American community to identify and begin planning for a broad range of uses on the site. The award is part of Metro’s 2040 planning and development grants program, which supports regional and local planning, economic development and community stabilization, and equitable development projects throughout the region. The grant program is funded by Metro’s Construction Excise Tax (CET).
The Center and waterfront education park seek to meaningfully restore Native peoples’ connection to the Willamette River. The Center and adjacent park will be part of an integrated package of redevelopment that will include riverfront restoration, and office and community gathering spaces for Native people and tribal and intertribal organizations who live, work or visit in the Portland metropolitan region.
“This effort — this type of partnership and this type of visibility — is something that tribes and the Native communities have been wanting for decades,” said Laura John, Tribal Relations Director for City of Portland. “It shows a turn of the times that Native people need to be present, acknowledged, visible and provided space. Having that space will help to accomplish the City of Portland’s vision as it works towards making the city a desirable destination for Native people — whether they're coming to visit or they're coming to live and work here.”