Grand Ronde gifts unique artwork to TriMet, the community

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Three-piece “We Have Always Lived Here” stands on and near Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People

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The name Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People, honors the Chinookan peoples who have lived near the Columbia and Willamette rivers for 14,000 years; now unique artwork by Chinook artist Greg A. Robinson stands at both sides of the structure to welcome people as they cross the bridge.

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Right to left: Jon George, Tribal Councilor of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde; Neil McFarlane, TriMet General Manager; Charlie Hales, Portland Mayor

The Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde donated the three-piece artwork to TriMet on Friday, April 17 during a special ceremony held at the base of Tilikum Crossing, which will carry TriMet’s future MAX Orange Line. Jon George, Tribal Councilor for the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, opened the ceremony with a special invocation honoring the original inhabitants of the region,  and highlighting how MAX light rail connects people today the way paths and trails once connected communities centuries ago.

AThe donated artwork, entitled We Have Always Lived Here, consists of a large bronze medallion, five feet in diameter, and two basalt carvings that represent an ancient tradition among the Chinookan peoples.

“We’re honored to be here today to accept these beautiful art pieces that speak to the long history of Native Americans in this region,” said TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane at an unveiling ceremony at the base of Tilikum Crossing. “Tilikum symbolizes our coming together, so like this bridge, our connections as a transit rider, a pedestrian or a cyclist come together today, and with this art, tie us to the important story of this region.”

McFarlane was joined at the unveiling and dedication by Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Councilwoman Cheryle Kennedy and artist Robinson.

Greg Robinson, artist

Greg A. Robinson, artist

“The value in this gift to TriMet is in the statement it will make now and into the future, the statement that the original Chinookan Peoples of the Portland area are still here, continuing their traditions now and into the future,” said Robinson. “The permanence of the stone carvings reflects well the permanence of Chinookan culture.”

The medallion shows Morning Star and her children in the center, surrounded by the first humans and then Coyote in the outermost ring. One of the two basalt carvings of a Tayi, or headman with his people, stands nearby. The other stands on the western side of the bridge.

About the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project

The 7.3-mile project is the region’s sixth MAX construction project and will improve transit in this corridor that extends from the terminus of the MAX Green and Yellow lines at Portland State University in Downtown Portland to South Waterfront, SE Portland, Milwaukie and North Clackamas County. About the project:

  • 7.3 miles
  • 10 stations
  • The first of its kind multi-modal bridge in the U.S. will carry light rail and streetcar trains, buses, bicyclists and pedestrians, but no private vehicles.
  • Opens Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015
  • Expands the MAX system to 60 miles and 97 stations

Project partners

The Federal Transit Administration, State of Oregon, Clackamas County, Metro, City of Milwaukie, Multnomah County, City of Oregon City, Oregon Department of Transportation, City of Portland, Portland Development Commission and TriMet.