Frog Moon Ceremonial Bowl by Greg A. Robinson, Chinook
Shweekheyk (Frog) Moon Ceremonial Bowl, 2023 by Greg A. Robinson, Chinook old growth red cedar
9.5” tall x 7.5” wide x 7” deep
These intricately carved bowls are used during the Chinook Salmon Ceremony held to coincide with the spring salmon run. The children gather salmon berries to fill the bowl with. When First Salmon is caught, it is brought to those witnessing the ceremony. One by one, the children feed First Salmon a salmon berry to welcome him and honor him. Each of the people eat a small part of First Salmon. The bones are then returned to the river so that First Salmon can return to the salmon to let them know that he was treated with respect and honor, and to provide bounty to the people.
The bowl depicts high status frog, one of the four main deities of the Chinook. According to Chinookan mythology, Frog (Shwekheyk in Chinook language), was given weavable fiber by his relatives, Snake and omnipotent Coyote. With this fiber, Frog was given the task of creating the cordage for the weaving of the first fishing net. The small triangles carved throughout the bowl represent the fishing nets. In this depiction, frog holds dominion over the moon. On the sides are images of Frog in his human form with a high status headdress. There are two small stars, relatives of the moon.
Greg A. Robinson, born in 1957, is a member of the Chinook Indian Nation located in Bay Center, Washington. Primarily self taught, Robinson has been an artist since childhood, with an early fascination for wildlife and tribal art after receiving a small carved canoe as a gift. He sold his first work of art in junior high school.
Robinson produces a variety of work in the style of the Chinookan peoples of the middle to lower Columbia River and Willapa Bay. His sculptural work is primarily in cedar wood, large stone, and bone. He draws inspiration and technical knowledge from the study of ancient works in various private and museum collections. His paintings are contemporary interpretations of ancient story lines, and are informed by the spiritual and shamanic aspects of his culture.
All of his work is a tribute to the Columbia River ancestors, to whom art, life, stories, and culture were inseparable. Through his art and instruction, he hopes to inspire future generations of Chinookan artisans.
In the Fall of 2003, construction began on a full scale traditional plankhouse at the archeological site of Cathlapotle, a settlement of the Chinookan people located in the present day Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. Robinson was the acting construction manager and tribal liaison for the project, overseeing the preparation of the red cedar logs and advocating for the traditional aspects of the house. He received the Department of the Interior’s Cooperative Conservation Award in 2005 for his involvement in the project.
In addition to creating art, Robinson works with the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde as an instructor for the Lifeways cultural program teaching a variety of carving, painting, and design, as well as outdoor curriculums including the gathering of native food and plants for healing, eating, and the creation of traditional basketry.
Robinson’s work can be found in both public and private collections including the Portland Art Museum, Multnomah County’s Central Court House, and The Regional Arts and Culture Council Portable Works Collection. As well, you can view Robinson’s outdoorpublic art commissions at the Multnomah Falls National Scenic Park, at both ends of TriMet’s Tilikum Crossing, and The Japanese Garden in Oregon.