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With its "On Native Land" exhibit, Tacoma Art Museum pays respect to the people who lived here first. And still do.

Curator Faith Brower calls her research into indigenous place names "intense." #k5evening

TACOMA, Wash. — On land another people still call their home, the Tacoma Art Museum has devoted an entire gallery to recognizing its place in the world.

“We're here on the unseated homelands of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, as many of you know” curator Faith Brower tells a group of visitors on a tour.

"On Native Land" is a collection of 14 paintings, paired with land acknowledgements to recognize the Native American communities who have always called these places home

“I really want to focus everyone's attention to the idea that these are homelands for communities that continue to live and thrive today,” Brower says.

Using mostly landscapes already owned by the museum, Brower reached out to tribal communities for the original place names.

“The research has been very intense in learning about the various histories of these 14 places throughout the United States,” she says.

Credit: KING TV
Faith Brower, curator of the "On Native Lands" exhibit at Tacoma Art Museum, gives a tour.

The landscapes include places most of us know as Green River, Galiano Island and The Grand Canyon. But of course each one has been called many things in many languages.

“In Yellowstone National Park we have recognition from 27 Native American communities who have deep and meaningful ancestral connections to the space,” Brower says. “And for me that was new!”

The first work of art visitors will see is called Grandmother by Shaun Peterson of the Puyallup Tribe. The tribe also provides a video introduction to the exhibit that hits home. It features Tribal members Charlotte Basch, Chris Briden, Chris Duenas and Amber Hayward.

“Land was assigned to our people,” says one member in the video. “The Caucasians said this is your land and then they took that land from us too.”

“I hope some people will feel seen and heard in this exhibition,” says Brower.

We live in a land rich with stories and tradition that go back not hundreds of years but thousands. “On Native Land” is one step towards acknowledging a land and history shared by us all.

The exhibit runs at the Tacoma Art Museum for the next two years. During that period, Brower hopes to expand on the information visitors will get from each painting.

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