Steph Littlebird


Greg Archuleta and Lifeways: Cultivating resilience through education

When Greg Archuleta realized the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde didn't have any cultural education classes, he created them himself.

This series, “Indigenous Resilience in Oregon,” focuses on different aspects of Oregon’s contemporary Tribal culture and explores how traditional ways of life have continued forward throughout colonization and settlement of Oregon. This collection of writings and interviews showcases the history and resiliency of Oregon’s First Peoples. The first installment of the series, “Steph Littlebird: ‘Am I honoring those who have come before me?’,” is here.


TUCKED AWAY JUST SOUTH OF THE ROSS ISLAND BRIDGE in a nondescript building off Barbur Boulevard is the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde (CTGR) satellite office, which serves Portland-area members. The Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community includes over 30 Tribes and bands from western Oregon, northern California, and southwest Washington. Some of these tribes include the Kalapuya, Molalla, Chasta, Umpqua, Rogue River, Chinook, and Tillamook. It’s here where contemporary artist and CTGR member Greg Archuleta works, where everything he does is centered on protecting and restoring the history of Western Oregon’s Indigenous people.

Image of Greg Archuleta sitting on a rocky outcropping above a river.
Greg Archuleta, the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde.


The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde were formed when the United States government forced the aforementioned Tribes to surrender their lands and move to a remote Reservation in Oregon’s Coastal Range. In February of 1857, Federal troops marched Indigenous people on a 260-plus mile trek from Table Rock, near present-day Medford, to the new Grand Ronde Reservation. 


Steph Littlebird: ‘Am I honoring those who have come before me?’

The launch of Oregon ArtsWatch's new series Indigenous Resilience in Oregon

My name is Steph Littlebird and I am an Indigenous artist born and raised in Northwest Oregon. I am a proud member of the Grand Ronde Confederated Tribes and a descendant of the Kalapuyan and Clatsop Chinook people. Some readers may be familiar with my 2018-2019 curatorial work for the Five Oaks Museum’s This IS Kalapuyan Land, a hybrid historical and fine art exhibition highlighting the lives of the Willamette Valley’s Atfalati Kalapuyans, while also featuring the work of 17 contemporary Indigenous artists from the Pacific Northwest.

Steph Littlebird, the Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde.


Vision 2020: Ella Ray

"There is this level of resistance coming from formerly colonized people who are marginalized, and I feel something bubbling under the surface"

Ella Ray is an art historian who, as she puts it, “produces environments, partnerships, and texts that explore the relationship between the interpersonal, the public, and the in-between.” She has a B.A. in art history/critical theory from Portland State University, and works for the Portland Art Museum and Portland Institute for Contemporary Art. She is community partnership coordinator for Portland Art Museum’s Hank Willis Thomas exhibition All Things Being Equal, which closes Sunday, Jan. 12.

Ray is a multifaceted creative who uses Black studies and Queer studies to examine the ways Black popular culture and Black fine arts are defining contemporary culture. She earned her degree from Portland State University in Art History with a focus on Critical and Queer theory. As a historian and a community member, she is leading challenging conversations around race, historical erasure, and the fruits we all can gain through open institutional critique.   


What I’m going to do is go through a list of questions. Just whatever is on your mind, go ahead and let it flow. Give me whatever is in your crystal ball. Let’s start with your current professional background.

Currently, I work at the Portland Art Museum, formerly as a Kress interpretive fellow through the Kress Foundation. At the same time I am the community partnership coordinator for the Hank Willis Thomas All Things Being Equal exhibition. In addition to that, I work with PICA in their youth program, freelance consult for various arts organizations, and art adjacent things, and I write about Black theory, Black studies, and performance.

Art historian Ella Ray, using “Black studies and queer studies to think about the ways in which Black popular culture and Black fine arts are defining western culture.” Photo courtesy Ella Ray

You also have a background in art history. Can you tell me just a little bit about your education and what you went to school for?