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

OMSI District

Restoring Tribal presence on the Willamette.

The creation of a Center for Tribal Nations and a waterfront education park developed by Tribes, Indigenous organizations, and community partners is intended to restore Native communities’ presence on the Willamette and address shared 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.

The Center for Tribal Nations Advisory Committee created a vision for the 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. The Committee also created a vision for the park: The waterfront education park is a place of healing to explore and experience the river through a tribal lens of culture and science.

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).

The Northwest Native Chamber has now taken the lead on securing land and early funding for a feasibility study for the Center for Tribal Nations.

In May 2023, the Metro Council committed up to $7 million to OMSI and CRITFC toward the construction of the waterfront education park as part of its Large-Scale Community Visions Grant program. Contract negotiations are underway.

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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