PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A new art exhibit in Southeast Portland is putting a spotlight on indigenous artists from Alaska with the nationally-touring exhibit “Protection: Adaptation and Resistance.”

On Friday, Portland’s Native Arts and Cultures Foundation is hosting a grand opening celebration of the exhibit including an artist and curator tour starting at 6 p.m. followed by a 7 p.m. reception.

“This exhibit centers indigenous ways of knowing. So, over the last few years, as we’ve all weathered the pandemic, I was really amazed to see some of the incredible age-old and customary art forms that indigenous artists across Alaska were excited in many Zoom-based or masked, socially distance kind of gatherings, to reinforce community across tremendous distance,” Exhibit Curator Asia Freeman said.

The exhibit renews traditional art forms to tell stories of resilience and adaptation and explores issues including climate change impact on indigenous communities and missing indigenous women and girls.

Mandy Yeahpau, the director of marketing for the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, says one of the most striking parts of the exhibit is a 12-foot traditional hooded shirt with hand-drawn portraits of over 200 missing Alaskan native women that have been missing since the 1950s.

“It really personalizes that these women existed and their families are still searching for them,” Yeahpau said.

Freeman added, “most of all, indigenous lifeways are sustainable lifeways and that’s what this exhibit uplifts. What we have to learn to perpetuate a good future really comes from listening to our elders and from our past and the artists really carry those stories.”

Beyond Friday’s celebration, the exhibit will be open on Fridays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. through August 4.