Making Space for Change

The Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF) is making space for big changes this year with the transfer of ownership of the Yale Union building to NACF. The building will become the Center for Native Arts and Cultures (CNAC) and the permanent home of NACF in Portland, Oregon. After ten years of cultivating a network of Native artists across the country, we will continue to focus on compelling arts and social change work.

Under President/CEO Lulani Arquette’s leadership, NACF launched in 2009 and has been successfully operating since that time, providing support to artists, organizations, and Native communities across the country. Arquette says she is looking forward to building on the organization’s national work to create a more intentional regional presence in Oregon and Washington.

There is a sense of possibility and movement forward for NACF and the work we do. The Center for Native Arts and Cultures will allow us to work with more partners and help strengthen local Native communities while creating a national asset for Native arts and cultures in Portland, Oregon.

― Lulani Arquette, NACF President/CEO

The Yale Union Building stands in a unique location with a creek running through the basement. The land occupied by the building was originally an estuary serving as hunting and fishing grounds for Native peoples of the region. Arquette hopes to create an area near the creek where visitors can connect with the land and what came before us while emphasizing the importance of water to Native people. She envisions this as a space for reflection, rejuvenation and healing—the overall vision for CNAC centers on creating a vibrant gathering place for Indigenous artists and local partnerships for events, exhibitions, art-making, and cultural ceremony and celebration.

News of the Yale Union building’s transfer of ownership to NACF has not gone unnoticed in the Native community, the arts community, and the Pacific Northwest region. In the aftermath of the press release, NACF received an outpouring of support from stakeholders excited about future programming opportunities in the space, building relationships with the local Native artists and organizations, and developing partnerships across sectors. It’s also not lost on Arquette that the news hit at a time when we are experiencing distress in our country relative to racial justice and the pandemic. “I was surprised by all of the press,” Arquette said, “but I think it’s been a breath of fresh air for people because of the positive significance that this symbolizes.”

We will continue to share and provide updates about the plans and programming for CNAC.

Earlier this summer, NACF and Yale Union (YU) proudly announced the transfer of ownership of the land and historic Yale Union building at 800 SE 10th Avenue in Portland, Oregon, from YU to NACF. Click on the link below to read the press release.

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