Panel Discussion, Partner Event, Online Video     

Tools of Survival: Tribal Education, Relationships, and Sovereignty in Oregon

Since the early 1800s, Native peoples in the place that became Oregon have used a variety of tools to resist genocide and cultural erasure. The U.S. government and the dominant culture have employed practices including land theft, violence, boarding schools, political and economic discrimination, and termination policy in repeated attempts to destroy tribes and their cultures.

Because of the power of Native resistance, those attempts have failed. Today, tribes in Oregon are working to heal from the centuries of trauma while forming relationships with and educating non-Native organizations, students, and neighbors about the histories, cultures, and governments of their people. Join us for a discussion with Lisa Watt and Brent Spencer about what tribes have been forced to do to survive and how they are utilizing education, relationships, and sovereignty to maintain their cultures and benefit the broader community today. This program is part of Rising Up for Human Dignity, a free series of events in April for Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month.

Ability Accommodation Information

This event provides the following accommodations:

  • Hearing-impaired
  • Handicap Accessible

Lisa Watt is the director of the Indigenous Leadership Program at Ecotrust, a Portland-based nonprofit that seeks innovative solutions at the intersection of economic prosperity, racial equity, and environmental well-being. She is responsible for the Indigenous leadership initiatives and works closely with staff to identify areas where Ecotrust can be most helpful to Native communities throughout the region on a wide range of initiatives. Prior to Ecotrust, Watt worked in the museum field for over 30 years, the last 18 as an independent consultant. She is a citizen of the Seneca Nation, from the Allegany Reservation in western New York State, and has lived in Oregon for 30 years.

Lisa Watt

Brent Spencer joined the Office of Indian Education as the Indian Education Coordinator and has primarily supported the implementation of Tribal History/Shared History (SB13), while also supporting the ongoing efforts of the Office of Indian Education. Spencer is an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) in Pendleton, Oregon. He earned his bachelor of science in 2005 from the University of Oregon and his masters of education from Lewis & Clark College in 2007. Prior to joining the Office of Indian Education, Spencer worked in the CTUIR education department for more than 11 years, working in various capacities including as Youth Services Manager, managing Title-VI, Career and Technical Education (CTE) Revitalization, and the CTUIR’s Senate Bill 13 lesson planning.

Brent Spencer

About Rising Up for Human Dignity: Resisting Cultural Erasure

In the face of cultural erasure, what can a community do to ensure the survival of its core identity? What are the shared responsibilities of the greater community? Join community partners for a series of events, in honor of Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month, exploring historical attempts at erasure of various communities’ ancestral cultures, the lived consequences of existing within ongoing erasure, and the radical resilience communities are exhibiting to not only secure survival but to thrive. 

Rising Up for Human Dignity: Resisting Cultural Erasure, April 7-28 (logo)