The Art Museum : the NW Coast Tribes, finally seen in real life

Because we were studying the NW Coast Native Americans a while ago, I looked around town to see where we could go see in person something that will help us learn more.  That’s when I came across the exhibit at the Portland Art Museum.

So you can imagine how exciting it was when we saw the real Patlatch Hat, or the real Chilkat blanket at the museum.  Lucas and Siena seeing them with their own eyes looking back at me, with surprise yes… amazed really!  Yes, we all were just besides ourselves and surprised and excited to be standing right in front of real items made by Native Americans, that we’ve been learning and studying from books.

Really! Be standing and looking items from as far north as from the Inuit tribe, and the Tlingit, Makah, and the Salish, and as close as to the Chinook tribes… all foreign names, but now, more common in our daily life and playings.

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Look at this… a Feast Dish from 1900.  Carved, one piece of cedar and paint.  It is huge! 10 feet long maybe? Beautifully carved, and the painting… can you imagine the festivities?

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I would love to attend one of these celebrations, wouldn’t you?


These masks from the Kwakwaka’wakw Tribe from the British Columbia region.  Made from red cedar and its bark, string, feathers, and paint.

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(Look at these other images online… amazing art!)

DSC_0078-small DSC_0087-smallTransformation Mask also from the Kwakwaka’wakw Tribe, used by ritual dances.  Can you imagine being able to see one of those dances in person, be part of that.  It just amazes me the beauty and incredible work they put into so many of the ritual costumes.  And also doing all this with tools, we find today to be “old style”, where no machines were used, all done by men’s and women’s hands.  I am in awe.


Have you’ve read the kid’s books, the Magic Tree House series, by Mary Pope Osborne?  I think she should write one about the Tlingit tribe.


And their clothing, so delicate and amazing work.

DSC_0131-smallThis Cradle is from 1890 from Kiowa or Comanche Tribe.  Made of wood, metal tacks, leather, cloth, bear’s ear, glass beads, and gourd.DSC_0133-small

And the cradleboards.  Siena made a cardboard cradleboard, maybe 5 years ago?  We were reading something back then that made us read a little more about them and then she wanted to carry her doll in one.



So we made one the perfect size for the doll she had and her size, back then.

DSC_0185-smallSo now, when we saw a real cradleboard, looking at all the bead work, I could look at them for hours. Wouldn’t it be more fun to carry a baby in these than those Kelty backpacks?

DSC_0183-smallAnd this necklace.  Impressive.  So exciting to see in person, all the things we had been reading about.  That’s a fun feeling and a great reason why we love homeschooling!


A beautiful and fun trip we had.  If you have a chance to visit the Portland Art Museum, you should go.  WE just visited the Native American Exhibit, and I think we should go back.  We learned so very much.  Actually, I’m so excited because we are going to go to another museum in few days, and I’m wondering what other Native American fun things we will learn!


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