“Native Salem” exhibit opens at Chemeketa

People visiting the Chemeketa Community College campus this fall will have a chance to learn about Kalapuyan history and culture.

The “Native Salem” exhibit, which debuted at the Salem Art Association’s Bush Barn Art Center in November 2021, is on display at Chemeketa’s Salem campus now through Dec. 2.

The exhibit’s curator is David Lewis, an assistant professor of anthropology and ethnic studies at Oregon State University and member of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde.

At a reception for the exhibit last fall, Lewis said the histories of Salem taught in local schools and in the public sphere still too often begin with the Oregon Trail and early Methodist missionaries like Jason Lee, leaving out the generations of Indigenous people who lived here first and aided early settlers in building homes.

“My tribal ancestors have lived in western Oregon for at least 16,000 years, and yet I see few representations of my people in this city,” Lewis wrote in a curator statement. “I was never taught about my people in the schools, and my children who attended many of the same schools, some 30 years later, also did not learn about their tribal ancestors, the histories or cultures of our tribes.”

At Chemeketa, the exhibit will be installed across three sky bridges on campus.

Lewis will also speak about the exhibit on Wed., Oct. 19 at 4 p.m. in the Building 1 student center.

Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

JUST THE FACTS, FOR SALEM – We report on your community with care and depth, fairness and accuracy. Get local news that matters to you. Subscribe to Salem Reporter. Click I want to subscribe!

Rachel Alexander is Salem Reporter’s managing editor. She joined Salem Reporter when it was founded in 2018 and covers city news, education, nonprofits and a little bit of everything else. She’s been a journalist in Oregon and Washington for a decade. Outside of work, she’s a skater and board member with Salem’s Cherry City Roller Derby and can often be found with her nose buried in a book.