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New exhibit sheds light on Chinook tribes' struggle for federal recognition, Our Coast Magazine

support tribal recognition

By Lissa Brewer

Amiran White has a message to share from the Chinook people. The photographer, who has spent many years documenting the five tribes together known as the Chinook Indian Nation, hopes to increase public awareness of the tribes’ decades long struggle for federal recognition.

The Clatsop, Wahkiakum, Kathlamet, Lower Chinook and Willapa tribes “have resided at the mouth of the Columbia River since time immemorial,” writes Tony A. (naschio) Johnson, chairman of the Chinook Indian Nation. Johnson’s words appear in a book of photographs and essays, also featuring White’s documentary work. These images showcase Chinook ancestral lands, canoes, garments and ceremonies, aiming to illuminate the tribes’ history, challenges and enduring cultural traditions. “I got involved about seven years ago when I first heard their story at the University of Oregon. Tony Johnson and some of his family were there and gave a talk,” White said. “It is quite remarkable, everybody continues to have this true resilience, just marching forward,” she added.

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