NEA Grant Supports Squaxin Island “Creative Placemaking.”

July 13, 2011

Squaxin Island Tribe and The Evergreen State College Longhouse Receive $100,000 “Our Town” Grant From the National Endowment for the Arts

The project ‘Our Tribe: The People of The Water’ was awarded one of only 51 grants nationwide in support of “creative placemaking”

(Olympia, Wash.) Today, the Squaxin Island Tribe and The Evergreen State College Longhouse Education and Cultural Center announced that they will receive an Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The tribe and the college will receive a grant of $100,000 in support of Native art in conjunction with the 2012 annual canoe journey on the Salish Sea (Puget Sound).

The NEA grant will help provide for documentation, installation, and exhibition for the project, Our Tribe: The People of the Water, a partnership of the Longhouse and the Squaxin Island Museum.

Project participant artists will create works to further establish a sense of Squaxin Island tribal identity, people and place. Established artists will teach their art forms to an intergenerational group of emerging artists and will create art to establish identity of people and place during the Tribal Journey canoe event.

At the project conclusion in summer 2012, the Squaxin Tribe will maintain the art pieces in the community and share them with neighboring townships for exhibition. The Museum and Longhouse will continue to host residencies with private and tribal funding.

Our Town is the NEA’s latest investment in “creative placemaking,” through which partners from both public and private sectors come together to strategically shape the social, physical, and economic character of a neighborhood, town, city, or region around arts and cultural activities.

The NEA grant will support half of the total project cost of $200,000. Longhouse and Squaxin Island Museum staff support and facility use provide the other half.

Expected project outcomes include increasing the number of practicing Squaxin artists, expanding indigenous artist networks, and increasing art appreciation, cultural tourism and economic development.

National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Rocco Landesman said, “Communities across our country are using smart design and leveraging the arts to enhance quality of life and promote their distinctive identities. In this time of great economic upheaval, Our Town provides communities an opportunity to reignite their economies.”

“This is a significant year for Evergreen and the Longhouse,” said Tina Kuckkahn, director of the Longhouse Education and Cultural Center at Evergreen. “The Longhouse is celebrating its 15th year and with the upcoming 2011-12 academic year, the college is marking its 40th anniversary, celebrating four decades of innovative teaching and learning.”

“The Our Town Grant from the NEA is another extraordinary example of the important national role and creative partnerships The Evergreen State College and its Longhouse have developed over the years,” said Kuckkahn. “We are pleased that this project gives the Longhouse an opportunity to build on and strengthen the long-term partnership that Evergreen has enjoyed with the Squaxin Island Tribe over the years. We always remember how strongly members of the Squaxin Island Tribe supported the dream of a Longhouse on the campus at Evergreen.”

“The Squaxin Island Tribe will host the 2012 Canoe Journeys, one of the largest tribal gatherings in the Pacific Northwest. Over a hundred cedar canoes will be coming into the marine waters within a mile of the state capitol, the celebration of traditional native songs will be heard and add a unique cultural value to the city of Olympia,” said Charlene Krise, executive director of Squaxin Tribe Museum Library Research Center.

“In tribal artwork are identifiable connections to the natural resources of the land, water and to the animal nations. It is wonderful NEA recognizes the cultural value of collaborative partnerships between Squaxin Island Tribe, City of Olympia and The Evergreen State College in our sincere attempt to enhance the quality of life by showcasing tribal art,” Krise added.

The Longhouse Education and Cultural Center opened on the Olympia campus of The Evergreen State College in 1995. The Center’s primary public service work is to promote indigenous arts and culture. In the beginning, the center focused on six local Puget Sound tribes and their artists; today staff work with indigenous artists throughout the Pacific Northwest region, nationally, and with other Pacific Rim indigenous peoples to promote indigenous arts and cultures through a wide variety of programs.


The Squaxin Island Museum Library and Research Center (MLRC) tells the story of the People of the Water through a series of exhibits and displays depicting the relationship between Squaxin Island Tribal members and the seven inlets of South Puget Sound. Visitors experience the rich culture of the Squaxin Island Tribe by participating in cultural activities and special events. The hopes and dreams of Squaxin elders and those who have walked before us have come true through this magnificent facility. Squaxin Island culture, past and present, is preserved for people of all generations. With a small, yet highly professional staff, the MLRC presents exhibits, lectures, films, tours, traditional skills workshops and educational outreach programs for students in local schools.


The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector