Visit us at Priest Rapids
Before the Columbia, there was Chiawana. The Wanapum, which means the River People, are part of the river and the land through which it flows. Coyote created the river in his efforts to care for the Wanapum. The Wanapum people have been supported by the river’s bounty for thousands of years. We honor the spirit of the river. We are the caretakers responsible for the land and for passing on the teachings of the natural world to the next generation.
Wanapum Heritage Center Events
New Hours starting JUly 1
Mon, Thur, Fri | 8:30 am - 4:30 pm
Tues, Wed | CLOSED
Sat, Sun | 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
July 15 - October 15, 2023
Portraits in Red: Missing & Murdered Indigenous People Painting Project
“I want to paint them the way the spirits would see them.” – Nayana LaFond
Artist's statement: I began this painting project without the intention of it becoming a project at all. I intended to make one painting as a catharsis and tribute to a domestic violence survivor and my matrilineal line.
The response to the first painting was so strong I decided to paint another. This began on May 5, 2020 when I was in quarantine and looking for something to occupy my time.
After an even larger online response to the second portrait, I decided to tell people that if they send me their images, I would paint them to raise awareness about the crisis. Within the first day I received 25 emails and private messages with images and stories. I soon figured out that I needed to paint them all. I could not say yes to some and say no to others. As of September 2022 I have completed 90 works and have a constant queue of 30 or more at a time. I paint them all for free, and I provide unlimited free prints to the families while exhibiting the originals to raise awareness. Because of so many messages and requests coming in, I declared it to be a project – the MMIWG/P Painting project began.
Each portrait is painted in black and white with red being the only visible color because spirits can only see red. Through painting these people I seek to elevate their voices, promote healing and spark discussion while contributing toward change. Each painting brings me healing from my own experiences and the experiences of my family members and I hope it brings some healing to those I paint and their families.
I also hope to raise awareness about this issue through exhibiting the work. Eventually if I do make the work available for sale I will donate to various charities including the NIWRC (National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center).
Nayana LaFond is of Anishinaabe, Mi’kmaq, Abenaki, Metis, French, German and other descent and is very active in her indigenous community.
Preserving Lodge Building Traditions
What our visitors are saying about The Wanapum Heritage Center
There, in pictures, dioramas, and words of youth and elders standing in two worlds, is the relationship of the Wanapum to the river, the land, the food and the dominant culture. It is still in my mind.
Wander the Wanapum Heritage Center. Read the words of the elders. Imagine living in two worlds, and recommit to the spirit which connects you to the gifts of Earth which sustain you and yours.
The permanent exhibit, with great care and nuance, tells the historic and contemporary stories of this tribe. Very well done.
Honestly, this is one of the best museums / cultural centers we’ve ever been in (and that is saying a lot)! Wonderful people.
This is one of the most amazing places in America – no one knows about it. Please go. It will change your life!
It is not your average Heritage Center and well worth a visit!
A powerful story…a memorable experience…
The exhibit is refreshing as it blends past and present, conveying the powerful message that the Wanapum are still here and will always be.