Salmon Ceremonial Bowl with Moon Design, 2020, Greg A. Robinson
Salmon Ceremonial Bowl with Moon Design, 2020
Greg A. Robinson, Chinook Nation
Yellow Cedar, Red Cedar
8” tall x 10” wide x 8.5” deep
Chinook Salmon Ceremony
When the first salmon is caught, it is brought amongst the people and is only handled by the elders. Salmon berries are placed in a beautifully carved red cedar bowl that is made specifically for this ceremony. The salmon is then fed the salmonberries by each of the children of the tribe. Once all of the children have participated the salmon is cooked. The elders give a small piece of this salmon to the elders participating in the ceremony. The skeleton of the salmon is left intact and is taken back to the river and returned to the Salmon Chief. This ceremony and ritualized handling and preparing of the salmon lets the Salmon Chief know that the Chinook people are taking care of his children and appreciate the bounty he has given to them.
The Chinook Indian Nation is a confederation of the five most western tribes, the Lower Chinook, Clatsop, Willapa, Wahkiakum and Cathlamet located in SW Washington State near the mouth of the Columbia River.
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. His past and current works in the traditional Chinookan art forms are 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 Chinookan artisans.
Robinson produces a variety of work in the style of the Chinookan peoples of the middle to lower Columbia River and Willapa Bay. Working primarily in wood, large stone, bone and hide, he draws inspiration and technical knowledge from the study of ancient works in various private and museum collections, including the Portland Art Museum.
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 Deptartment of the Interior’s Cooperative Conservation Award in 2005 for his involvement in the project.
In addition to creating art, Robinson contracts for the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde as an instructor for the Lifeways cultural program, teaching a variety of carving, painting, design, and outdoor curriculums for tribal members. You can view Robinson’s public art commissions at the Multnomah Falls National Scenic Park in Oregon and the Parkersville Historic Park in Camas, Washington.