Visioning a Center for Tribal Nations and Waterfront Education Park in the OMSI District

OMSI District

A design rendering of the proposed Center for Tribal Nations.

Dreamt into existence for decades, the Center for Tribal Nations celebrates and catalyzes the power of Indigenous peoples’ cultures and presence on the river.

Despite historical ties and current influence in the region, Native Americans lack opportunities and resources for a common location to work, develop business, recreate, conduct cultural activities, and showcase their remarkable history, resilience, and future. Despite consistent tribal efforts over the past sixty plus years, the City of Portland has failed to construct a Native center, despite passing resolutions and completing one study in 1987.

The Center for Tribal Nations (CTN) project aims to leverage the redevelopment of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) property to establish a collaborative partnership between Native and non-Native organizations, Tribal, and non-Tribal governments. This integrated project will restore Native peoples’ connection to the Willamette River and address challenges of sustainability, resilience, and inclusion.

Together in 2020, OMSI, the City of Portland, the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI) and the Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission (CRITFC) received an Equitable Development Grant as part of the Metro’s 2040 Planning and Development Grant program. ATNI led Tribal outreach in January 2021, and the Center for Tribal Nations Advisory Committee then led a process to consider the optimal combination of programs, uses, and activities as well as the values and principles that should guide future efforts to bring this vision to life.

In September 2022, ATNI convened its Annual Conference and invited the Advisory Committee facilitators, the City of Portland Office of Tribal Relations, and OMSI to share information about this project. Using its most influential policy mechanism, ATNI passed a resolution to “support the Center for Tribal Nations and Waterfront Education Park projects, including the visions and tribal and community-centered planning processes deployed to design and develop these projects for  the benefit of Tribes, tribal and inter-tribal organizations, and American Indian and Alaska Native residents of the greater Portland region.” (Resolution #2022 – 44).

This was an important step forward in solidifying Indigenous support for a Center for Tribal Nations and waterfront education park. A full report by the Center for Tribal Nations Advisory Committee and design teams was completed in January 2023 and continues to inform the ongoing work toward making the Center for Tribal Nations and waterfront education park a reality. Meetings are ongoing with various community groups to gather feedback on plans for the center and park.

For more information, please visit centerfortribalnations.com.

Future OMSI District

The OMSI District Master Plan is to create a one-of-a-kind neighborhood that is an inclusive community destination with innovation, culture, arts, and science learning at its heart.

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