January 13, 2022

Future Memories of This Land: The Confluence Project, Indigenous Counter-Narratives, and Maya Lin’s Counter-Monuments

Lewis and Clark College

Maya Lin, Nez Perce Dedication Ceremony at the Listening Circle, 2015. Photo: Miranda Ross. Courtesy of Confluence.

The Hoffman Gallery at Lewis & Clark College presents Future Memories of This Land: The Confluence Project, Indigenous Counter-Narratives, and Maya Lin’s Counter-Monuments, an exhibition that brings together works by contemporary Indigenous artists with selected archival materials from the Confluence Project, a project reconsidering the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804-6), a foundational “discovery” narrative of the US, from an Indigenous perspective. In doing so, Future Memories of this Land considers how the Confluence Project intersects with today’s conversations on monuments, decolonization, and social justice.

Co-initiated in the early 2000s by tribal representatives and community activists, the Confluence Project’s goals have been materialized by celebrated artist Maya Lin, in a series of earthworks on six significant sites along five hundred miles of the Columbia River. Encompassing extensive land restoration, these works foreground the ecological unfolding of the region and highlight 15,000+ years of Indigenous land stewardship. Renowned as the designer of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington DC, Lin suggests that her “memory works” “invite people to think”. The Confluence sites are resonant place-keepers for the past, present, and future generations of the Indigenous Tribes of the Columbia River system.

The Confluence Project extends beyond an act of commemoration to encompass 20+ years of public gatherings, outreach and education programs. This exhibition juxtaposes selections from its archives with artworks by some of the most acclaimed Indigenous artists in the US, whose practices raise urgent questions around cultural and linguistic self-determination, water preservation, land reclamation, and Indigenous futures. Taking place on a college campus named after Lewis and Clark, the exhibition is accompanied by a public program to generate opportunities for critical discussion and collective reflection. Organized in collaboration with the Native Student Union, these events will take place in person and by zoom.

Curated by Lucy Cotter with Steph Littlebird.

Contributing artists: Sky Hopinka, Gail Tremblay, Lillian Pitt, Cannupa Hanska Luger, Lehuauakea, Adam Khalil, Jason Clark, Ka’ila Farrell-Smith, Joe Feddersen, Shirod Younker, Bobby Mercier, Annelia Hillman pue-leek-la’ and Natalie Kirk Moody.

For further details, event schedules, ongoing updates, and COVID safety protocol see here. For press information and images, please email: gallery [​at​]

Maya Lin
is acclaimed for her large-scale environmental artworks, her architectural works, and her memorial designs. Following her early debut as the designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, she went on to a remarkable career in both art and architecture, whilst remaining committed to memory works that focus on some of the critical historical issues of our time.

Lucy Cotter is an independent curator and writer, whose practice engages with contemporary art as a form of knowledge and a site for cultural transformation. She was curator of the Dutch Pavilion, 57th Venice Biennale (2017), and is the author of Reclaiming Artistic Research (2019). She holds a PhD in Cultural Analysis on the agency of curating in decolonization processes.

Steph Littlebird is an artist, curator, writer, and a registered member of Oregon’s Grand Ronde Confederated Tribes. She received national recognition as curator of This IS Kalapuyan Land (2020) at Five Oaks Museum, Portland. Littlebird’s artistic work combines traditional and contemporary aesthetics to forge connections between our collective past and imminent future.

Confluence is a community-supported nonprofit that works through six art landscapes, educational programs, and public gatherings in collaboration with Northwest tribes, communities, and the celebrated artist Maya Lin. It seeks to connect the public to the history, living cultures, and ecology of the Columbia River system through Indigenous voices.

Organized by Lewis & Clark College in collaboration with Whitman College, Walla Walla. With the support of the President’s and the Dean’s Offices at Lewis & Clark College and the Mellon Foundation’s Northwest Five Consortium grant for community-engaged learning. This exhibition reconceives and expands upon Along the Columbia River Nch’i-Wána: Maya Lin and the Confluence Project, Maxey Museum, Whitman College, where the archives are held in the Northwest Archives.

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