Acknowledgements -> Beginnings
Beginnings of the
The Confluence Project was born through a series of twists and turns, coincidences, and chance encounters. In 1999, organizations from St. Louis to the Pacific Coast were planning how they would observe the Lewis and Clark bicentennial in 2005.
In Washington State, several people were thinking in visionary terms. How could this occasion be a way to reflect on a larger story of change in the Northwest? Instead of a focus on the explorers, they believed a meaningful Bicentennial observance would honor Native peoples and the unique environments the Corps encountered. A few individuals in Eastern Oregon, Southern Washington, and at the mouth of the Columbia River, were working independently but came to the same conclusion.
Antone Minthorn, Chair of the Umatilla Reservation in eastern Oregon, began thinking of artist Maya Lin with his colleagues. They believed she was an artist who could take on a work based on Native perspectives. Meanwhile, Jane Jacobsen and David DiCesare, at the Fort Vancouver National Site, concluded that Maya Lin was the person for the conceptual scope they imagined. In Pacific County on Washington’s coast, a working group had the same thought.
Soon the three groups learned of one another’s ideas, and decided to invite Maya Lin jointly to create a series of art works in Oregon and Washington. They prepared a proposal for an ambitious commission, and with support from Governor Gary Locke, sent it to Maya Lin’s Studio. Lin was interested in hearing more.
In 2001, a group including representatives from the Nez Perce, Chinook, and Umatilla Confederated Tribes travelled to New York to ask Lin to accept the commission. The artist responded positively, and in her words, “I asked the group if I could talk about not just the cultural history of this place, but the ecological history of this place, I would love to work on this.”
The following year, in 2002, Lin came to the Northwest and visited potential sites for the commission. The hard work of pulling together people and communities along the Columbia River, raising $27 million, selecting sites, and facilitating the design and construction of a series of installations, had begun.
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