Two cedar logs topped with crossed canoe paddles with a cast-glass sculpture of a Chinook woman’s face, greet visitors to the Land Bridge, a historic tribal crossroads and a historic point of contact between European and Native people on the Columbia River. The Welcome Gate by artist Lillian Pitt represents how Chinook people welcomed someone arriving by canoe and serves as a fitting entry to the Vancouver Land Bridge (Link: https://nativeamerica.travel/listings/confluence-land-bridge-in-vancouver).
At this location, the Hudson’s Bay Company stood as the first European trading post in the Pacific Northwest, and Lewis and Clark camped at this site during their expedition. Fort Vancouver was built twenty years later.
“The Land Bridge is a real link connecting back to the Klickitat Trail, Lewis and Clark, and the development of the Northwest. It completes a circle that’s been broken,” states Johnpaul Jones, acclaimed Native American architect and landscape architect who worked on the project along with designer Maya Lin.
The Welcome Gate is the perfect creative entryway to the Land Bridge, which tells the story of river, land and people along the Columbia River. Artist Lillian Pitt states, “The site was built to honor the Chinookan people, who were awesome traders. They lived and traded from the mouth of the Columbia River in Astoria, all the way upriver to the area where my ancestors lived at Celilo. And this area they established within modern-day Vancouver was a major gathering place for them . . . and so it was here that they welcomed many people to trade.”
Lillian Pitt is a Pacific Northwest Native American artist. She was born and raised on the Warm Springs reservation in Oregon and her ancestors lived in and near the Columbia River Gorge for over 10,000 years. The focus of her work is on creating contemporary fine art pieces that delight today’s art lovers, and at the same time, honor the history and legends of her people.
For more information about Lillian Pitt’s work and a list of her other public art pieces to view in the area, please visit http://lillianpitt.com.