By Elizabeth A. Woody (Warm Springs, Yakama and Diné), Executive Director
WARM SPRINGS, Ore. (KTVZ) — In 1990, United States President George H.W. Bush signed Joint Resolution 577, designating November as the first National American Indian Heritage Month.
The joint resolution read: “American Indians were the original inhabitants of the lands that now constitute the United States of America.” It was the first such official statement, which has been signed every year by a sitting president.
At The Museum at Warm Springs, we celebrate our unique cultures, traditions, histories, arts and languages every month. Indeed, our staff is dedicated to upholding The Museum’s mission of “preserving, advancing and sharing the traditions, cultural and artistic heritage of The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Oregon and other Indigenous peoples” every day of the year. We do this joyfully, with purpose, and with the knowledge and, even more importantly, the satisfaction that we are gifting our visitors with information and an experience they may not receive anywhere else.
The people of the Warm Springs Reservation have always looked to the landscape around us for our knowledge. Languages and land have been intertwined for thousands of years. With each vision quest, an individual brought back to the community a new understanding learned from the environment. Our land bestowed knowledge and practical intimacy through its processes and qualities. This cultural practice — a personal journey deep into myth for reclamation of ancient elements and acclamations of respect for all life to come — potently binds us to enduring values.
I want all of you who visit the Museum at Warm Springs to note the word inscribed above The Museum’s entrance. It is “Twanat,” which means “to follow.”We follow these practices, teachings and actively follow our ancestors to prepare for tomorrow. “This land is for you to know and live upon and pass on to the children.” It is “Ticham,” a concept in the Warm Springs culture that connects an individual to the ancient activity on the land and is of the land.
The beautiful and continuing cultures of the Columbia River Plateau speak of time immemorial — the beginning of this world, the demise of previous epochs, and what is to come — a visceral prophecy. As much as language, the patterns of the Warm Springs people have documented, preserved and carried on our culture. Our leaders and culture bearers bring the new into the potency of image. This is “Tananawit,” (“Peoples’ Way of Life), referring to a culture that our people had in the past, is practiced today, and something that can be taught for the future. In the past the artists, storytellers and teachers of our traditional ways carried our collective knowledge, rights and sovereign nationhood from generation to present, to the future.
Please plan a visit to The Museum in November. We will be opening a new exhibit on Tuesday, Nov. 15 — "The Warm Springs 29th Annual Tribal Member Adult and Youth Exhibit,” which will be on view through Saturday, February 11, 2023.
This popular annual exhibit will combine Tribal member adult and youth art into one spectacular display. The exhibit will include many generations of beautiful artistry in paintings, drawings, mixed-media, beadwork, weavings, video, photography and more, in two categories of Traditional and Contemporary Art.
Plan your visit to coincide with your holiday plans and spend some time in the Museum’s popular Gift Shop, where you will find something for everyone on your list. We look forward to seeing you here and celebrating our arts and cultures with you during National Native American Heritage Month!
About The Museum at Warm Springs
The Museum at Warm Springs opened its doors to the public on March 14, 1993. Built to Smithsonian Institution professional standards, The Museum’s mission is to preserve, advance and share the traditions, cultural and artistic heritage of The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Oregon. Regular Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to Noon and 1 to 5 p.m. The Museum is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Admission: Museum Members (free), Adults ($7), Senior Citizens over 60 ($6), Students 13-18 with student body card ($4.50), Children 5-12 ($3.50) and Children 4 and younger (free). The Museum is located at 2189 Highway 26 in Warm Springs. Phone: (541) 553-3331. For more information, visit https://museumatwarmsprings.com.