AIS Instructor Joe Seymour Brings Coast Salish Salmon to Olympia Waterfront

Submitted by Kai Wise on
Artist Joe Seymour stands in front of his installed salmon artwork

Squaxin artist Joe Seymour talks about his migrating salmon artwork that adorns the new Views on Fifth apartment complex on the downtown Olympia waterfront. You can see the video interview, and read the article featured in The Olympian

"The salmon for the Views on Fifth tower are meant to be swimming up stream to spawn. The top three salmon have already begun their journey up river, while the bottom salmon is waiting in a shallow pool at the bottom of the falls. The building sits on the mouth of the Deschutes River and empties into Budd Inlet, traditionally known to the Squaxin Island people as Steh-Chass (place of the black bear). Before Olympia was settled, that area used to be an estuary with a very diverse ecosystem. There is a movement around Olympia gathering momentum to return that area back to an estuary and remove the fish dam on the Fifth Ave bridge. This installation honors the promise that the ancestors of the Squaxin Island tribe made to the salmon people that humans would always treat the salmon people and their home with respect and reverence. It’s my wish that with the salmon on that building, we will always remember our promise to be stewards of the land and to ensure that the salmon will always have a home to return to."

Joe Seymour will be a guest instructor for AIS this Spring 2020, teaching the department's first hands-on art course in years. AIS 350 will focus on traditional drum making and we hope to have Joe back for more classes in the future. This position was funded by the Center for American Indian and Indigenous studies as part of its Native Knowledge program. Native Knowledge lecturer grants support instructors who enhance the teaching and learning experience at UW in ways that draw deeply upon Native knowledges.

Olympias capital building at night with view of salmon lit up