The Northwest boasts a rich Native American history. From Alaska to Oregon, the nations and tribes native to our region are evident throughout our communities—from the art displayed in our museums, parks and neighborhoods to the names of local cities and destinations, such as Chelan, Klamath Falls, Denali, Nez Perce and Kelowna. Celebrate this cultural bounty by planning an event at a venue that honors the Northwest’s roots. Here are just a few to consider for your next gathering.
Alaska Native Heritage Center
The Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage is the only center in the state that represents all of Alaska’s native cultures. “We’re connected to all the different Alaska native people because we employ people from every region in the state,” says Kelsey Wallace, public relations and marketing manager for the center. “There’s only one federally recognized tribe in Alaska, and that’s the Metlakatla in the southeast part of the state. We represent those people, too, but people here don’t see themselves as tribal people. We just see ourselves as Alaska native people.”
The center offers guests the opportunity to immerse themselves in the various cultures of Alaska, but more importantly, it gives them the opportunity to speak to and learn from Alaska native people. Says Wallace, “We offer interactive experiences in our museum exhibit space for guests to come and learn the history and speak with Alaska native people about the lifestyles that our ancestors have lived. Although we do have similarities, and we do share the same Alaska native cultural values and some of the same traditions, our people, the languages and our dialect aren’t the same.”
The Gathering Place, the center’s largest event space, can accommodate as many as 240 guests for a seated dinner and as many as 500 for a cocktail party. The Mabel Pike Room, the smallest event space, can host as many as 50 guests both seated and standing. Groups can rent the entire venue for up to 900 guests. During the summer months, the center offers a patio café, and tents with gorgeous views of Lake Tiulana can be erected and utilized.
Groups can use any of the center’s preferred caterers or, if they like, bring in their own.
Tamástslikt Cultural Institute
For an authentic tribal experience, pay a visit to the Tamástslikt Cultural Institute near Pendleton, Oregon. You can immerse yourself in the history, culture and hospitality of the people who have lived in the region for more than 10,000 years. In addition to the Umatilla Tribe, the institute celebrates the traditions of the Cayuse and Walla Walla tribes.
“The institute is owned and operated by the tribes, so you’re working with a lot of tribal members,” says marketing consultant Michelle Liberty. “You get a real sense that you’re on American Indian property and in a facility run by tribes.”
A state-of-the-art museum offers not only interactive exhibits, but also a spectacular view of the Blue Mountains. Items for sale in the museum store include books, CDs, blankets, tribal art and handcrafted items, such as jewelry and apparel.
The institute’s largest event space is the theater, which can accommodate as many as 125 guests seated or 250 standing. The smallest event space is the classroom, which can host a meeting for 35 people or a reception for 60. An event space located in the Naamí Nisháycht outdoor living culture village can accommodate as many as 75 guests seated and as many as 100 standing.
Catering is provided through the on-site Kinship Café, which offers Native American– inspired menu items. The café specializes in desserts made with huckleberries, a traditional ingredient for the Umatilla Tribe.
Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA
The Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Art in Vancouver, British Columbia, is a public gallery dedicated to the contemporary indigenous art of the entire Northwest Coast, a cultural area that includes portions of northern Washington state and southern Alaska as well as the coastline of British Columbia. It is also a legacy gallery that is named for Bill Reid, considered one of Canada’s most renowned indigenous artists. The gallery has a permanent collection of works by Reid, who was of Haida descent.
“We refer to the indigenous groups as First Nations,” says Todd Tregilges, special event and group tour coordinator. “We don’t use the term ‘tribe’ in Canada. Tribe refers to a small group of people and is not appropriate to apply to large multivillage groups.”
The gallery offers private group tours of the collection, which highlights the region’s arts and culture.
Currently, the entire venue is undergoing a renovation, which is scheduled to be completed this spring. The main area will be able to accommodate up to 100 guests seated and up to 200 standing. The second-level mezzanine gallery will be able to host as many as 30 guests seated and 60 standing. A separate education space with theater seating will accommodate up to 50 guests both seated and standing. Catering is provided by Bon Vivant Catering.
The pilot episode of the popular 1990s television series Twin Peaks was filmed at Kiana Lodge in Poulsbo, Washington. “Because of that, people from all over the world come here to see the property. In the pilot episode you can see the main lodge,” says director Jay Mills.
Affiliated with the Suquamish Tribe, the main lodge has a true Northwest feel to it. “There are a lot of Northwest native designs by local artists, including totem poles within the structure,” Mills says. “It’s a beautiful place with manicured gardens throughout the property.”
Located on Agate Pass, on the same beaches where the Suquamish people have gathered for generations, the main lodge can accommodate up to 80 guests seated and up to 150 standing. An adjacent building can host up to 600 guests seated and up to 1,000 standing. In addition, the lodge can arrange for Native American performances for groups, and catering is provided on-site.
Shoshone-Bannock Hotel and Events Center
FORT HALL, IDAHO
The atmosphere at the Shoshone-Bannock Hotel and Events Center in Fort Hall, Idaho, directly reflects the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, which own and operate the facility, which is located on the Fort Hall Reservation. “A lot of our décor was inspired by the culture of our tribes through the design and construction process of the hotel,” says Director of Sales and Marketing Echo Marshall. “We had a committee of local tribal members that assisted with the interior design and the artwork.”
In addition, the textures and color palette of the wall and floor coverings throughout the property were inspired by the ShoshoneBannock culture and local landscape. “In our restaurant there’s a backdrop behind our hostess station that’s a replica—a large wall mural—of beadwork. The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes are renowned for their beadwork— purses, moccasins, dance regalia and things like that—many items of which are available in our Donzia Gift Shop,” says Marshall.
A casino adjacent to the hotel is in the process of being expanded. It is scheduled to be completed this summer.
A large ballroom can accommodate as many as 800 guests seated and 1,500 standing. The ballroom can also be separated into 10 meeting rooms, the largest of which can host up to 70 guests seated and 150 standing, and the smallest of which can accommodate as many as 30 guests seated and 60 standing. Catering is provided on-site.