New art at People’s Park salutes Native American ingenuity

Peoples Park Art
Ernie Vela

SPOKANE, Wash. — Local artist Sarah Thompson Moore oversaw the finishing touches on the art sculpture, Convergence at People’s Park on Thursday, celebrating the history and ingenuity of traditional fishing technologies.

It involved sandblasting and engraving 16 pictographs and their Salish titles, created by tribal youth from the Wellpinit School District. Industrial Creations, Inc. was on site doing the work, along with Thompson Moore. The sculpture is located on the south side of the Sandifur Memorial Bridge in Peaceful Valley.

Spokane Parks and Rec said the sculpture represents a fishing weir, which were built into the rivers to funnel the fish into areas where they were easier to trap. The Spokane River Gorge is where Native Americans, especially the Spokane Tribe, used weirs to help catch and cure hundreds of migrating salmon.

“I became fascinated by the fishing technologies that were used and the amount of salmon that used to come through here. I really wanted to do something that celebrated that ingenuity and technology,” Thompson Moore said of her sculpture. “It’s really cool to think about it being here a very long time and also, our human connection to the river, past, present and future.”

The department said the artist worked with art teacher Cheryl Brown and her K-12 students via video conference. The submitted designs were provided to the Spokane Tribe’s Culture Department, where the final 16 designs were selected and their Salish translations were provided.

The department said the sculpture celebrates the history and ingenuity of traditional fishing technologies utilized by the original inhabitants of this land for thousands of years. They added the pictographs are a way of tangibly connecting that history to the present and the future of the Spokane Tribe, through the youth of today.

In the near future, the department said a webpage will be created where visitors can learn more about each pictograph. This will include the name and grade of the young artist who created it, a personal description of their work, as well as translations and pronunciations for the Salish words engraved next to each image.

The sculpture was created through collaboration with the Spokane Tribe of Indians, Spokane Arts, City of Spokane, Spokane Park Board, Joint Arts Committee, and the Peaceful Valley Neighborhood Council, as well as funded by the City of Spokane.