Gifts from Our Ancestors Funders

Brot & Mary Bishop

Native Arts and Cultures Foundation

Roundhouse Foundation

Oregon Cultural Trust

The National Endowment for the Arts: Our Town

Ray Hickey Foundation

PGE Foundation

Herbert A. Templeton Foundation

Mid-Columbia Medical Center

Contact Us

Phone 360-693-0123
Fax 360-693-7770

Mailing Address:
1701 Broadway #144
Vancouver, WA 98663


Gifts from Our Ancestors Education Program

Gifts is a collaborative program between school classrooms, indigenous artists and tradition keepers, and community to engage in project-based learning. Gifts engenders authentic interaction between artists and students through story sharing and interdisciplinary learning, using art as a lens to explore understandings of homelands, cultural and ecological awareness, and reciprocity through stewardship of knowledge and natural resources.

Selected classrooms have the academic year to research, develop, collaborate, and execute place-based community projects that develop cultural and ecological literacy through creative engagement with place. Project work has explored indigenous languages, oral history collection, murals, music, mosaics, digital storytelling, film making, basketry techniques, ceramic clay/mask making, storytelling, printmaking, and theatre/dance. Program funding provides direct support for class projects, Native American artist residencies and performances, online educational resources, teacher and artist program orientation, and direct artist and teacher support. Students engage in a variety of artistic processes while demonstrating key learning objectives (tied to state requirements), visit sites of cultural significance along the Columbia River (including Confluence art sites), and create/curate a permanent public response as a gesture of reciprocity- "gifting" their knowledge to future generations.

2013-2014 Gifts from Our Ancestors

Confluence is pleased to be working with the following schools and artists:

Dufur School (Dufur, OR) - As part of a two-year NEA "Our Town" project, artist Toma Villa has installed two student-created murals in the community space at Dufur School depicting life at Celilo Falls and life in the Dufur Valley as a way to recognize the diverse backgrounds of students and to celebrate their cultural stories.

Wishram School (Wishram, WA) - A program participant for three years, Wishram School is creating tile mosaics representing the culture, history and ecology of the region. Inspiration for the mosaics came from artist Brigette Scott, who shared her ancestral stories of Celilo Falls and taught weaving, and Jefferson Greene who performed with the N'Chi Wanapum Canoe Family Dancers and engaged students in storytelling and creating "story circles".

Wy'East Middle School (Odell, OR) - As part of a two-year Honor Humanities elective, Wy'East students work with artists Jefferson Greene, Patsy Whitefoot, and Toma Villa to gain an understanding of their own culture, native cultures (both past and present), tribal and personal sovereignty, and then create symbols that represents their individual culture then captured on a school mural.

Corbett Middle School (Corbett, OR) - Artists Pat Courtney Gold (master Klickitat basket weaver) and artist Toma Villa Art integrated concepts of healthy ecosystems with monotype printmaking for 180 students in an Arts Enrichment class. An art show and sale will take place at the end of the year.

The Dalles Wahtonka High School (The Dalles, OR) - A third year participant, students of Native American and Pacific Island ancestry explore their own cultural stories, history, and artifacts. Students create dances, journals, and digital storytelling to document and share their exploration. Native American Tradition Keepers Brigette Scott and Jefferson Greene as well as community members lead class discussions and field trips.

Dallesport School (Dallesport, WA) & Lyle Middle School (Lyle, WA) - A collaborative project, school classs are celebrating the long Native American history in the area with artists Ed Edmo, Jefferson Greene, and Lillian Pitt to lead storytelling, sharing cultural beliefs, and creating spirit masks. In recognition of the continued Native American presence in the community, 200 students will participate in an "Art For The Sky" image depicting a local native legend.

Mosier Community School (Mosier, OR) - 50 fourth and fifth grade students consider Celilo Falls in the 1700's and the ecological, economic, and cultural impact of The Dalles Dam for the region and First People. Cultural anthropologist and artist Brigette Scott led field trips to Celilo Park and Columbia Hills State Park, followed by beaded wall-hanging project. Artist and flutist Foster Kalama shared his music and family history as great-great grandson to prominent chiefs of the region.

Sunnyside Environmental School (Portland, OR)- 220 students visited Celilo Park to meet with Tradition Keeper Jefferson Greene to learn about Columbia River Indians as part of their "Year of the River" focus on indigenous history and salmon economy and the influence of industry on the river. A woven mural of symbolic words will permanently capture what they've learned.

Walt Morey Middle School (Troutdale, OR)- 70 art class students explore the history and cultural significance of the Sandy River on people, the land, and animals. Storyteller Ed Edmo shared traditional stories and muralist Toma Villa worked with students on creating personal petroglyph-like images/ symbols that were burned into wood "cookies" and installed as a wall hanging.

Spring 2014 Notes from The Field
Submitted by Erika Rench, Education Coordinator

The hillsides of the Columbia River Gorge are in full spring greening and Gifts from Our Ancestors is doing its fair share of creative ‘greening' in schools. While winter is the traditional season for Gifts Native American artists and Tradition Keepers to share their stories, culture, and history as First Peoples of the river, spring is the time to give artistic expression to all that has been learned.....   more >


If you are interested in learning more about Gifts from Our Ancestors, please email Program Coordinator Erika Rench at