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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.

This spring, the In Dialogue series engages Contemporary Native Photographers and the Edward Curtis Legacy. The exhibition juxtaposes Curtis’s 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. Join in the conversation as we explore Native identities and representations through topics in law and sovereignty, literature and film, art, history, and environmental justice. Register for all four seminars or choose just one or two.

Participants are asked to spend time in the exhibition before the seminars begin and to complete short readings before each session.

Sundays, April 3, 17, 24 and May 1; 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Trustee Room, Mark Building

Space is limited. Registration required.
Please contact Hana Layson ( if you purchase a ticket but are no longer able to attend or if you would like to be added to a waitlist.

Educators and students enter promotional code EDUCATOR16 to receive discount.

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


April 3: Frank Pommersheim, The Doctrine of Discovery

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.

April 17: Grace L. Dillon, Contemporary Native Art and Indigenous Futurisms: Nimikadaadi’ing, Reaching Out to Dance With Each Other

Grace L. Dillon (Anishinaabe) is a professor in the Indigenous Nations Studies Program, School of Gender, Race, and Nations, at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon, where she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on a range of interests including Native American and Indigenous studies, Indigenous Futurisms, science fiction, Indigenous cinema, popular culture, race and social justice, and early modern literature. She is the editor of Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction (University of Arizona Press, 2012) and Hive of Dreams: Contemporary Science Fiction from the Pacific Northwest (Oregon State University Press, 2003).

This seminar explores the emerging movement of Indigenous Futurisms, forms of Indigenous-created science fiction and speculative literature/film (fusing sf, fantasy, and horror); we will watch a number of Indigenous Futurisms short films with time for conversation about each showing.

April 24: Roben White, Who Controls the Narrative?: Visual Representations of Native Histories

From rock art to computer-generated art, how do we identify what is Native and what is not? Have we increased our voice or been lost in the world around us? Is Native art relevant? What can we learn from its historical aspects for application to today’s issues? Can Natives control the narrative?

We encourage you to visit the Clark County Historical Museum exhibition One November Morning in preparation for this seminar.

Roben White is Cheyenne/Lakota and enrolled Oglala Pine Ridge. Roben has varied experience as a labor leader and community, Native, ecological, and food systems activist/organizer. He has a business background including International Business and is politically active. He is currently reviving his life as an artist after a several decade hiatus.

May 1: Judy BlueHorse Skelton, Indigenous Resurgence: Reclaiming a Post-Industrial Landscape for Food, Medicine, and Ceremony

This seminar explores how Northwest tribal and urban Native communities are reclaiming the post-industrial landscape as part of the Indigenous Resurgence movement.  An herbal tea will be served.

Judy BlueHorse Skelton (Nez Perce/Cherokee) is on the faculty of the Indigenous Nations Studies Program, Portland State University. She teaches Environmental Sustainability through Indigenous Practices, Contemporary Issues in Indian Country, and Indigenous Gardens and Food Justice and is a co-founding member of the Inter-Tribal Gathering Gardens. She has worked with federal, state, and local Native organizations and tribes throughout the Northwest for more than 25 years, creating cultural activities focusing on traditional and contemporary uses of native plants for food, medicine, ceremony, and healthy lifeways.