September saw the opening of Portland’s Tilikum Crossing, the newest of Portland’s bridges. This one is special for a few reaasons. First, it’s a pedestrian/transit bridge that is only open to pedestrians, the MAX light rail line, buses, bicycles and emergency vehicles. Second, it is named in honor of the people who inhabited this area long before the Jacksons, Hawthornes and Morrisons. Tilikum is a Chinook jargon word that means “people, tribe or family.” It was chosen to honor the Multnomah, Cascade, Clackamas, and other Chinookan peoples who have been here as long as 14,000 years ago.
The name was chosen through an initial round of popular vote, with the final name being chosen by a Trimet committee. The Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde were part of the bridge’s dedication, and donated artwork by Chinook artist Greg A. Robinson. The three pieces are collectively titled, “We Have Always Lived Here.”
Two basalt pillars stand at the east and west ends of the bridge. The bronze medallion, five feet in diameter, hangs at the eastern side of the bridge, facing north. According to the tribe. “The basalt carvings depict Tayi, or headmen, with their people, and the medallion shows Morning Star and her children in the center, which is a reference to the heavens, and Coyote and the first humans on the outer ring, referencing the Earth.”
As part of the opening ceremony for the bridge, The Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde commissioned a limited edition blanket from Pendleton Woolen Mills, incorporating the stunning artwork by Mr. Robinson.
Each blanket bore this special patch.
As we understand it, most of the commemorative blankets were given as gifts, and a small amount were sold on Tilikum Crossing’s opening day. We are so honored to have been asked to participate in this event. Below, enjoy some shots from the bridge’s dedication, including those of the artist being wrapped in another Grand Ronde blanket, and some beautiful closeups of his work. Photos courtesy of Trimet.