Gifts from Our Ancestors Funders

Brot & Mary Bishop

Roundhouse Foundation

Oregon Cultural Trust

BNSF Foundation

Ray Hickey Foundation

Wildhorse Foundation

Herbert A. Templeton Foundation

Mid-Columbia Medical Center

Bill Healey Foundation

Firstenburg Foundation

PGE Foundation

Gray Family Foundation

US Bank Foundation

Contact Us

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

Mailing Address:
1109 East 5th Street
Vancouver, WA 98661

Confluence in the Classroom

Confluence in the Classroom Education Program

For the last four years, Confluence in the Classroom has connected K-12 classrooms with Native artists and tradition keepers to create meaningful projects about the Columbia River system. We help create a confluence of cultures. Confluence in the Classroom uses art as a catalyst to stimulate interaction between artists, students and teachers for a year-long cultural journey. Storytelling, mural painting, mask making, weaving, dance and music encourage a deeper understanding of place, self-identity through cultural experience and relationships between people and their environment. 

The program includes at least one frield trip to a culturally significant place, including Confluence sites. At the end of the school year, students present their community projects, which embody the exploration, research, sharing and skills acquired during the school year. The majority of the classrooms Confluence are underserved where creative opportunities have diminished just when standardized testing leaves little opportunity for inspired, diverse educational experiences. 

If you are interested in learning more about Confluence in the Classroom, please email Program Coordinator Erika Rench at

2017-18 Confluence in the Classroom

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

Wallace and Priscilla Stevenson Intermediate School. White Salmon, Washington: For this grant teachers chose to focus their students learning on Historical Event past and Present, multiple Perspectives and First-Person Narratives as part of this grant.  The team of four teachers implemented the Since Time Immemorial Native American curriculum for Washington utilizing the Living in Celilo curriculum.  Pamela Larsen, who developed an art and humanities residency to support this curriculum helped students create a miniature of Celilo Falls which culminated in the Dalles Dam flooding Celilo Falls. Jefferson Greene worked with all 112 4th graders in a week-long language residency. Students through song, storytelling games and interactive activities learned words of the natural world, counting from 1-10, colors, words to describe someone or something, and greetings in Ichishkíin. Linda Meanus, great-granddaughter of Chief Thommy Thompson, visited and shared her life growing up at Celilo Village. The project culminated in a 4th grade field trip to Celilo Park where Brigette McConville, Clifton & Christine Bruno, and partner organization Columbia Riverkeeper shared stories and activities that broadened students understanding of culture, salmon, treaties and stewardship.

Living in Celilo is a curriculum mandated by the State of Washington and part of the state’s Since Time Immemorial curriculum. It aims to use the students’ imagination and creativity to facilitate personal investment in the history of Celilo Falls. It is a project-based curriculum with an integrated humanities curriculum including memoir and journal writing, art making, and reading historical first person narratives, historical essays and articles that illustrate different points of view. After the student- created falls was flooded, students were asked how they felt. Some of the responses came from the children “seeing” themselves as Celilo Villagers.

“There were only two things that survived, the salmon and us.”

“Our village took a week to make. I feel only a little part of what the Natives felt.”

“That was terrible. All that work gone to waste. I wonder if the real Celilo was actually like that.”

“I feel sad and mad. That’s probably how they felt."

Mosier Community School. Mosier, Oregon: Forty-five 4th and 5th graders went on a field trip in late fall to Celilo Park where they met Jefferson Greene who shared cultural objects and talked about first foods and lifeways. Clifton and Christine Bruno shared stories of Clifton’s father who lived at Celilo Village and about fishing and the functional uses of plants. Ubaldo Hernandez, of Columbia Riverkeeper played a salmon education game to teach students about salmon and the challenges and impacts facing fish on the river. This field trip was the culmination of our seven week Salmon Civilization program offered by Pamela Larsen and connected directly to that content as well as a place based unit we were working on that centered around local flora. Student knowledge of the history of Celilo Falls and the native peoples that inhabited this area was shallow.

Matt Rutledge, Teacher at Mosier School, said: “Student knowledge of the history of Celilo Falls and the native peoples that inhabited this area was shallow.  This experience gave the students much more in-depth cultural and historical knowledge as well as a personal connection to the local tribes and their experience.”

Lyle Secondary School. Lyle, Washington: Fifty-seven students in grades 6th-8th in Social Studies, History and Humanities classes participated in a Sahaptin language class with Jefferson Greene.  

Dufur School. Dufur, Oregon: Fifty-two students in grades 7th -9th went on a full-day field trip to significant sites along the Columbia River. Students with special permission visited Dancing Rock a site held in trust by Friend of the Columbia Gorge. Next to a vernal pond students rotated in small groups to six stations where they heard   Brigette and Shawn McConville, Greg Arquette,  Clifton and Christine Bruno and Mildred Queampts and Annie Kirk shared their personal, cultural and tribal stories about place and fishing techniques, creation stories, cultural lifeways, treaties, life at Celilo Village, language, first foods and conducting cultural surveys. And after lunch students walked to Tsagaglalal (“She Who Watches”) at Columbia Hills State Park and considered how water is life for the people of the river and all of creation.

Daniel Cosgrove, teacher at Dufur School said:  “They discussed the river, the falls, dam, and Grandpa stories.  This was a perfect lead into discussing how a perspective that considers a much greater depth of time encompass a greater scope of what the world has been, could have been, and could be.  Students only know the river as a series of lakes, we need the depth of time contained in the perspective of those who have it to truly know the resource that is the Columbia."

Warm Springs K-8 Academy. Warm Springs Oregon: For the second year of funding sixty-two 4thgrade students created a new book of stories in the three languages of the Wasco, Warm Springs and Northern Paiute- Kiksht, Sahaptin and Numu with Jefferson Greene. The translation was supported by elders from the tribes Culture and Heritage department. These books have gained in popularity and are being produced and sold throughout the community.  Students visited the Warm Springs museum with community elders and participated in a school-wide pow-wow and was supported by Confluence.

May Street Elementary. Hood River, Oregon: 90 students painted a wrap-around mural with artist Toma Villa that brought the concept of Man’s Dependence on Natural Resources to life with salmon swimming the walls of May Street Elementary. In small groups, 4th graders painted fish and dragons- the school mascot- together and heard stories about fishing from the artist. Students attended a field trip to Celilo Park where they met Linda Meanus who spoke about what it was like to grow up at Celilo Village. They learned about river stewardship with partner organization Columbia Riverkeeper. Jefferson Greene and Clifton Bruno shared their personal stories of lifeways, language and culture.

Sunridge Middle School. Pendleton, Oregon: One hundred and ninety 6th graders had a day of pow-wow culture and learning to drum on a floor drum, Nez Perce horse culture and regalia and first foods as a lifeway, a cultural practice and for ceremony. Native educators came from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation-- they were Fred Hill Sr.--who teaches language-- Deborah and Mary Harris, Mildred Quaempts, and Cheryl Shippentower. Jefferson Greene came to classrooms for three days and taught the Sahaptin language of the Wasco people. He used a creation story to teach words from the natural world and to get students learning words through songs and interactive games.

More information about our native educators and programs are available in our Confluence In the Classroom Resource Guide   more >


If you are interested in learning more about Confluence in the Classroom, please email Program Coordinator Erika Rench at