An opportunity to visit with and watch demonstrations by American Indian regalia artists is part of this weekend's exhibit, "The Art of Ceremony: Regalia of Native Oregon."
The exhibit, which runs through May 28, hosts regalia-makers at work Friday and Saturday from 1-5 p.m., at the Tamástslikt Cultural Institute, 72789 Highway 331, Pendleton.
Featuring regalia-makers from Oregon's nine federally-recognized tribes, the exhibit includes hand-crafted dance outfits, jewelry, staffs, headdresses and musical instruments.
On Friday, Warm Springs tribal members Levi and Katy Blackwolf will demonstrate and exhibit beadwork from in the gallery and on Saturday, Umatilla, Walla Walla, and Cayuse tribal artisans Thomas Morning Owl, Joey Lavadour, and Delphine Wood, will demonstrate traditional skills.
"The Tribes are unique, but they are all guided by the aesthetic of wanting to reflect the beauty of nature in their work," said Randall Melton, collections curator at Tamástslikt.
Organized by Willamette University professor Rebecca Dobkins, in partnership with tribal leaders, artists and collectors, the exhibition is designed to introduce non-tribal audiences to the history, beauty and function of regalia within tribal life and thought.
"Most people have never really seen Oregon's traditional regalia," Dobkins said.
The only time much of the regalia is worn is during private events, including funerals, feasts or dance ceremonies.
"These items are not largely shared outside their community," Dobkins said.
"A lot of people attend intertribal powwows and mistake what they see there as our traditional dances and regalia," explained Bud Lane, vice chairman of the tribal council for the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians. "We want people to see that each tribe has its individual traditions and cultures that vary from region to region."
The exhibit features what the tribes consider as their finest artwork, items they wear and use in private ceremonies and rituals.
Melton said rather than focusing on elaborate regalia, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation selected the simple essentials of tribal life by lending artifacts of the sweathouse and plain buckskin clothing typical of "Sunday best" clothing.
"We are honored that Tribal elder, Les Minthorn, lent several hand drums to the exhibit that he himself had crafted," Melton said.
Additionally, an eagle staff was constructed by artist, John Bevis, who's also a CTUIR elder.
"Indian tribes view the eagle staff as the counterpart of the national flag," Melton said.
Tamástslikt Cultural Institute is owned and operated by the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. In addition to the museum and interpretive center, Tamástslikt operates a museum store and the Kinship Cafe.
There is no charge to view exhibits on the first Friday of the month. Costs during other operating hours are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors 55-and-older and $17 for a family of four. Call 966-9748 or go to www.tamastslikt.org for more information.