Seminar: In Dialogue with Native Identities and Representations

April 3, 2016 @ 10:30 am – 12:30 pm
Edward Sheriff Curtis, A Gray Day in the Bad Lands, 1905
Edward Sheriff Curtis (American, 1868–1952), A Gray Day in the Bad Lands, 1905, plate 86 from the portfolio The North American Indian, volume 9, photogravure, gift of Henrietta E. Failing.


The doctrine of discovery describes the legal rationale for the assertion of federal title to all Indian lands within the United States.  The doctrine is rooted in the 1823 Supreme Court decision in the case of Johnson v. McIntosh.  This result is no mere historical artifact, but rather it is a case that continues to cast a long and dark shadow over Indian lands and the American conscience.

Frank Pommersheim is currently the Walter R. Echo-Hawk Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law at Lewis and Clark Law School and is on the faculty of the University of South Dakota School of Law. Prior to joining the South Dakota faculty in 1984, he lived and worked on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation for ten years. He currently serves on a number of tribal appellate courts throughout Indian country including Chief Justice for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Court of Appeals and the Rosebud Sioux Supreme Court. He is the author of Braid of Feathers: American Indian Law and Contemporary Tribal Life and Broken Landscape: Indians, Indian Tribes, and the Constitution. His newest book is Tribal Justice: 25 Years as a Tribal Appellate Justice. Frank is also a poet.

In Dialogue is a new occasional series of interdisciplinary, discussion-based seminars that explore art on view at the Museum in relation to works in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences.

Contemporary Native Photographers and the Edward Curtis Legacy stages a conversation through images. The exhibition juxtaposes Curtis’ monumental, romanticized record of tribal lives 100 years ago with the work of twenty-first-century Native artists who challenge popular myths of the “noble savage” and the “vanishing race.” Taken together, these works raise critical questions about the portrayal of Native American experiences over the last century. The In Dialogue series of small-group, discussion-based seminars invites you to join in the conversation as we explore Native identities and representations through topics in literature and film, education and citizenship, law and sovereignty, and environmental justice.

Space is limited and advance registration is required. Cost per session: $10 Members/$19.99 non-member. Educator and student discount available.

The series is co-sponsored by Portland State University-University Studies.

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The Portland Art Museum is pleased to offer accommodations to ensure that our programs are accessible and inclusive. All spaces for this program are accessible by wheelchair. Assistive listening devices are also available for lectures. All restrooms have accessible stalls but no power doors. There are single-stall all-gender bathrooms available. Please ask staff for directions.

We will do our best to accommodate your needs when you arrive, however, we need 2-3 weeks advance notice for some specific requests. Please email requests to, or call 503-226-2811.