The Evergreen State College Longhouse announces expansion of its Indigenous Arts Campus

February 8, 2017
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Father/daughter carving team Alex and Tierra McCarty (Makah) work on welcome figures for the northwest entrance to Evergreen’s new fiber arts studio, scheduled to open in October 2017.

(Olympia, Wash.) – The cause of indigenous arts preservation and promotion received a major boost today with the announcement of a $1 million grant to The Evergreen State College Foundation for the expansion of the Evergreen Longhouse Education and Cultural Center’s Indigenous Arts Campus. The campus, which includes the Longhouse, provides teaching and learning opportunities for the creation of indigenous art forms, including those that may be endangered or are currently under-used.

The Indigenous Arts Campus expansion includes a fiber arts studio and a new 2,000 square-foot carving studio. The existing 800 square-foot carving studio will become the indigenous 2-D (two-dimensional) design studio. The mission of the Longhouse, or “House of Welcome,” is to promote indigenous arts and cultures through education, cultural preservation, creative expression and economic development.

“The Indigenous Arts Campus provides art-making opportunities within a setting that affirms indigenous heritage and identity, while providing educational opportunities that foster collaborations across generations, art media and diverse cultural practices within state-of-the-art facilities,” explained Longhouse director Tina Kuckkahn-Miller. “The fiber arts studio, scheduled to open in October 2017, has already provided numerous opportunities for cultural and artistic exchange as carvers and weavers work together to create permanent art for the new studio. An expanded carving studio will provide greater opportunity for both academic use and community-based workshops and residencies, while allowing carvers to increase the scale of their work—for example, to produce full-sized canoes.”

Both studios will provide facilities to support tribal initiatives such as the annual Tribal Canoe Journey, in which artists create ocean-going canoes, paddles, regalia and gifts of art.

The Indigenous Arts Campus is supported by The Evergreen State College, the Ford Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Toi Maori Aotearoa, Creative New Zealand, the Surdna Foundation, and individual donors. Seven Washington Tribes have provided financial support, in-kind donations of timber, and sponsorship of artists. Those include Muckleshoot, Snoqualmie, Shoalwater Bay, Chehalis, Squaxin Island, Nisqually and Skokomish tribes. The expansion is made possible, in part, by a newly-announced $1 million grant from the Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies.

“The skills and traditions of indigenous art are handed down person to person and generation to generation,” noted Evergreen President George Bridges. “And much of that involves actually carving, painting, weaving or creating, side by side with artist mentors. These studios and facilities represent a vision for creative spaces inspired by the art itself, hands-on learning, international collaboration, cultural preservation and artistic work that really has no parallel.”

With a master plan designed by award-winning architect Johnpaul Jones (Choctaw), who also designed Evergreen’s Longhouse and was the principal architect of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, the Indigenous Arts Campus has regional, national and international implications. In particular, the fiber arts studio was collaboratively designed by Jones and Māori sculptor and designer Lyonel Grant, whose work was primarily supported by the government of New Zealand.

“The completion of these studios will bring the Indigenous Arts Campus much closer to its full aspiration, which also includes the addition of a cast glass studio, faculty/student studios, a water feature, meditation space, and other landscape elements in the future,” said Kuckkahn-Miller.

About the Longhouse Education and Cultural Center

The Longhouse Education and Cultural Center, or “House of Welcome,” opened at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. in 1995. It is one of five public service centers at the college. The Longhouse promotes indigenous arts and culture at a local, national and international level. To learn more about the Longhouse and the Indigenous Arts Campus, visit:

About The Evergreen State College Foundation
Since 1976 the Foundation has supported the goal of fostering access and excellence at Evergreen by raising and managing private gifts from generous donors and charitable foundations. While public funds, tuition and fees maintain the college, private gifts and grants provide scholarships and underpin the development of innovative programs. To learn more about the Foundation, visit: