Longhouse Education and Cultural Center

Grantee:  Longhouse Education and Cultural Center
Location:  Olympia, Wash.
Award:  Regional Collaboration Pilot Program 2013
Discipline:  Regional Collaboration Pilot Program
Web Site:  Longhouse Education and Cultual Center

The Longhouse Education and Cultural Center is the only Native facility of its kind on any university in the country. The dream began when Evergreen State College faculty member, Mary Ellen Hillaire of the Lummi tribe, founded the Native American Studies program.

Mary Ellen Hillaire is also credited with having first articulated the need to have a culturally appropriate facility, such as a longhouse, on campus so that people from all different cultural backgrounds could teach and learn with each other. For more than a decade the mission of the “House of Welcome” has been to promote indigenous arts and cultures. In the beginning, focusing on six Puget Sound tribes and their artists, the Longhouse has extended their services to work with indigenous artists throughout the Pacific Northwest region, nationally, and with other Pacific Rim indigenous peoples.

NACF funding for the Longhouse last year provided support for eleven different events and activities including annual programming like “Generations Rising” that brings 250 participants to the Longhouse to create art in a day that is focused on families and Native youth artists. Over 200 elders, adults, and youth participated in workshops with artists in residence. Funding also supported the Longhouse Holiday Native Arts Fair providing over 40 visual artists an opportunity to sell their work and build a patron base. The Longhouse also christened new carving studio attended Native leadership from the region, Maori and Anishinabe contingents, artists, and arts funders like NACF. Visitors were treated to an afternoon of traditional foods and canoe paddling on the Puget Sound.

The college where they are housed has now established an academic planning unit and the Longhouse will become more integrated into academic programs. Exciting developments include planning efforts in the creation of an MFA in Indigenous arts. The Longhouse is also building upon their facility infrastructure and will expand into an indigenous arts “campus within a campus” that will include a fiber arts studio and a glass studio to compliment the new carving studio. And with support from the Margaret Cargill Foundation, they are also launching a new initiative that will be an interface between Native artists and several northwest museums’ Native arts collections. NACF support for their work this year will focus on their Artist in Residence program, which brings established Native artists to tribal reservation sites and to Evergreen to train and cultivate the voices of participating Native artists.

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