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With 16 Exhibitors

Gallery celebrates contemporary Native American art

Columbia Center for the Arts in Hood River presents Nch'i-Wana 2007: Celebrating Contemporary Native American Arts of the Big River.

Nch'i-Wana is a Native American word for Big River, now known as the Columbia River.

Opening on Oct. 5 and extending through Oct. 29, Nch'i-Wana 2007 features 16 Native American artists, as well as a series of events and guest speakers.

Skamania Lodge in Stevenson serves as a satellite location for the art show, and will be hosting a number of the events and lectures.

Invited artists have ancestral ties to the Native American bands and tribes who lived and traded along the Big River for over 12,000 years. Included are artists who are enrolled members of the Spokane, Colville, Nez Perce, Umatilla, Yakama, and Warm Springs reservations, as well as Chinook people and other "independent" river people.

The show features contemporary works of art, but is rooted in Native American history and tradition. Pat Case, organizer for the show says: "Artists were asked to explore the Nch'i-Wana from the past, present and future, and to communicate, through their art, something culturally, historically, or socially significant."

The idea for the show emerged from discussions at the Columbia Center for the Arts related to how to interest a more diverse group of people in the arts.

According to Joanie Thompson, director for the Center, "We agreed we could interest more people in the arts if we had something unique and compelling to offer."

Case adds: "There can be nothing more unique nor more compelling to the Gorge and to the Columbia River region, than Native American people and Native American art."

The theme and content for the show evolved based on collaborations with Native American colleagues.

The show is dedicated to the memory of Apolonia Susana Santos, whose ideas, according to Case, "remain an inspiration."

Artists participating in the month-long gallery art show are: Leo Adams (Yakama), Rodney Cawston (Okanogan / Nez Perce), Phillip "Aarnaqua" Charette (guest artist, Yupik), Roxanne Chinook (Wasco), Bernyce Courtney (Wasco), George Flett (Spokane), Charlie Funk (Chinook), Ric Gendron (Colville/Umatilla), Pat Courtney Gold (Wasco), Tony Johnson (Chinook), Miles Miller (Yakama/Nez Perce), Lillian Pitt (Warm Springs/Wasco/Yakama), Apolonia Susana Santos (Tygh-Yakama), Tony Stevens (Warm Springs), Jo Marie Tessman (Umatilla), Jeremy Wolf (Umatilla/Nez Perce)

Additional crafts artists participating in weekend events include: Lori St. John, George Hill, Pauline Yallup, and Sandra Nelson, among others.

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