"Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect." —Chief Seattle, 1854
On April 11, Spencer Beebe and Tina Kuckkahn Miller were recognized by the Museum at Warm Springs at the museum’s annual honor dinner. This year’s ceremony took inspiration from the powerful words above, attributed to Chief Seattle.
More than 150 people attended the dinner and ceremony, hosted by the Museum at Warm Springs in the Billy Frank Jr. Conference Center at Ecotrust. Master of Ceremonies Stanley Speaks welcomed guests from many Northwest Native tribes in attendance, as well as other communities throughout Oregon and the region.
Spencer received the TWANAT Award, which was created by the museum in 2003 to honor individuals whose tireless efforts on behalf of Native communities can serve as an example to all Americans. Carol Leone, the Museum’s executive director, said that Spencer was nominated to receive the TWANAT award this year because his lifelong work reflects a spirit of interconnectedness and a deep commitment to honoring indigenous knowledge.
Spencer was introduced by Elizabeth Woody, who worked closely with him at Ecotrust for many years. Both shared stories about their work together, including the creation of the Indigenous Leadership Award and many projects in partnership with Northwest tribes. Liz remarked that Spencer is a man who has traveled widely and walks in several different worlds, but that he is most at home outdoors in the Pacific Northwest region that has been home to his family for four generations. “One thing to know about Spencer is that he is just as much at home in a conference room in downtown Portland as he is camping out on the beach without a tent,” Liz said.
Liz described Spencer as an unobtrusive leader and a strong collaborator, with a vision that has always included partners throughout the region. Spencer spoke of his conviction that all people who live within this region have a responsibility to act as citizens of this place. He recalled learning from indigenous wisdom that the best way to show true citizenship of a place is to take care of it and to think of future generations. One of the best ways we can all do that, he noted, is to listen to and learn from the people who have lived longest in this place and who have built and passed down place-based knowledge for thousands of years.
“One thing to know about Spencer is that he is just as much at home in a conference room in downtown Portland as he is camping out on the beach without a tent.”
Tina Kuckkahn Miller (Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe) was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award for her work with the Evergreen State College Longhouse “House of Welcome,” which promotes education, cultural preservation, economic development, and creative expression for indigenous artists throughout the Northwest and along the Pacific Rim. In accepting her award, Tina recognized the staff and partners of the Longhouse, throughout the Northwest, and as far away as New Zealand, who are continuing to build and strengthen Longhouse programs. Tina asked members of her family to join her in sharing a special family song with the gathering.
The Museum at Warm Springs works to preserve, advance, and share the knowledge of the cultural, traditional, and artistic heritage of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs with visitors from around the world. Throughout the year, the museum holds educational exhibitions and programs that raise awareness of the art and culture of many regional indigenous tribes.