The Evergreen State College celebrates the 25th Anniversary (plus one) of the Longhouse

November 10, 2021

On Saturday, Nov. 13, The Evergreen State College will celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Longhouse a year late due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The virtual celebration will begin at 1 p.m. and feature speakers such Kristopher Peters, Chair of the Squaxin Island Tribe and Board of Trustees member for Evergreen, Kara Briggs, Vice President for Tribal Relations, Arts and Cultures and John Carmichael, Evergreen President.  

The Longhouse was the first facility of its kind to be built on a college campus in the United States and was a dream of Native students, tribal artists and faculty member Mary Ellen Hillaire from the Lummi Nation, who founded Evergreen’s Native American Studies program in 1972.  

In 1995 their dream came true thanks to the perseverance of Evergreen graduate Colleen Jollie and since that time, the mission of Evergreen’s “House of Welcome,” has been to promote Indigenous arts and cultures from not only the Pacific Northwest but nationally.  

Since then, the Longhouse has awarded over $800,000 in individual artists grants, in increments of $2,500 to $5,000; it has hosted over 200 artists residencies and workshops; it has premiered 15 art exhibitions; sent six Northwest Native American artists to New Zealand for artist residencies in Aotearoa, New Zealand; hosted two international artists gatherings featuring Indigenous artists from around the Pacific Rim.  

Kara Briggs, of the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe, was appointed over the summer as Vice President for Tribal Relations, Arts and Cultures. Briggs is determined to continue Evergreen’s 50 years of success as an institution that serves Native students, helping them to which has pave the way to successful careers in their own Tribes, as well as in government, arts and sciences.  

Briggs, a 2010 graduate of Evergreen’s Tribal Governance Master of Public Administration   program began her career as a journalist working in leading news outlets, including The Spokesman-Review, The Oregonian and Indian Country Today. She has also worked in state government, tribal government and public affairs.  

“The Evergreen Longhouse is a nationally important center for Northwest Native arts and model for other state and private colleges in how to work with Tribes and Native artists to advance Native cultural and artistic expression,” Briggs said. “As The Evergreen State College looks to the next 50 years, and the Longhouse to the next 25 years, we must continue to grow our relationships with Tribes and Native artists, so that we are always creating pathways for Northwest Native peoples to advance.”  

Along with the virtual celebration this Saturday, a retrospective art exhibition opens on Nov. 20, featuring Native artists from throughout the Pacific Rim who have contributed and participated in the work of the Longhouse for the past 25 years also opens. The exhibit can be seen in Evergreen’s Gallery located in the Daniel J. Evans Building on the college’s Olympia campus and runs through January 29, 2022.  

Those interested in attending the virtual celebration can join via Zoom beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 13. Information regarding the art exhibit can be found on the college’s website.