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First Thursday Speaker Series: Southwest Washington Native American Music

From the Heartbeat of the Earth to the Return of the Drums

VANCOUVER — On Thu., Nov. 1, the Clark County Historical Museum (CCHM) will host its next First Thursday Speaker Series event, which is sponsored by Clark County’s Historic Preservation Commission.

Our speakers will highlight the long history of Native American Music in Southwest Washington. Speakers from Southwest Washington Nations and Tribes will discuss the origins of music in their history, how music was central in their lives, and silencing and the subsequent return of Native songs.

Speakers at the upcoming First Thursday Speaker Series will highlight the long history of Native American Music in Southwest Washington. Photo courtesy of Clark County Historical Museum
Speakers at the upcoming First Thursday Speaker Series will highlight the long history of Native American Music in Southwest Washington. Photo courtesy of Clark County Historical Museum

General admission is $5, seniors and students are $4, children under 18 are $3, and the evening is free with a CCHM membership. Doors open at 5 p.m., the event begins at 7 p.m. The museum encourages attendees to get there early, as it is first-come, first-served seating.

Music continues to play a central role in the lives and spiritual expression of the Southwest Washington Native American Nations, according to Cowlitz Tribe Spiritual Leader Tanna Engdahl. Photo courtesy of Clark County Historical Museum
Music continues to play a central role in the lives and spiritual expression of the Southwest Washington Native American Nations, according to Cowlitz Tribe Spiritual Leader Tanna Engdahl. Photo courtesy of Clark County Historical Museum

Music continues to play a central role in the lives and spiritual expression of the Southwest Washington Native American Nations. According to Cowlitz Tribe Spiritual Leader Tanna Engdahl, “Our drummers and singers are not just musical performers to be called forward to events. The music that they play is spiritual, no different than when people sing praise songs in the house of the Lord.”

Music also remains at the center of Cowlitz art and culture. This is prominently displayed during the annual Cowlitz Tribe pow wow, a celebration that includes drumming and inter-tribal dances.  

An important piece today of the Chinook Indian Nation’s musical tradition exists with the Cathlapotle Plankhouse. Sam Robinson, Chinook Indian Nation vice chairman, notes, “The songs that we share are always, always greatly important.” Within the walls of the Plankhouse, people are brought together to drum, share songs, dance, and provide blessings, passing forward the musical legacy of the Chinook Indian Nation.

CCHM is honored to have members of Southwest Washington Native American Nations present this special event and share this unique window into Southwest Washington’s past with our community.

For more information, contact the museum at (360) 993-5679 or by email at [email protected].

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