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Southeast PortlandÔÇÖs Hawthorne Street Fair Celebrates Art and Culture

Southeast PortlandÔÇÖs Hawthorne Boulevard filled Sunday with artists, musicians, small business vendors, and revelers as the 40th annual Hawthorne Street Fair took place. This vibrant event brought together people from all walks of life to celebrate the local art and cultural scene.

However, just two blocks north, in the 3500 block of Southeast Main Street, another event offered a more tranquil atmosphere for visitors seeking a deeper connection with art and creativity. The Portland Indigenous Marketplace provided a space for Indigenous artists and craftspeople to showcase their handmade products.

At the marketplace, vendors displayed a variety of unique items, including beaded cords, pottery mugs, painted canvases, spirit masks, handmade earrings, leather pouches, and bracelets. All of these products reflected the artistry and dedication of their makers, highlighting the rich cultural heritage of Indigenous communities.

The Portland Indigenous Marketplace, founded in 2018 by executive director Lluvia Merello, serves two important purposes. Firstly, it aims to create a culturally inclusive space for everyone, fostering diversity and mutual respect. Secondly, it encourages people of Indigenous origin to embrace and celebrate their heritage. The marketplace provides a platform for Indigenous individuals to connect with their roots and find a sense of community, especially for those who live away from their tribes.

The market attracted vendors like Hana Doe, a member of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe of Massachusetts, who finds solace in the urban Native community in Portland. As a market vendor using repurposed materials, Doe draws inspiration from nature, family, and human interaction to create a wide range of culturally appreciative items, including earrings and buttons.

The Indigenous Market not only serves as a platform for cultural awareness but also as a space for Indigenous spirituality. Katana Connelly, from the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, uses ink paintings to pay homage to the fluidity of her community. For her, having a market specific to Indigenous cultures allows her work to be received and appreciated more readily.

This market is not limited to people of Indigenous descent. It welcomes anyone who wants to embrace creativity and share their stories, regardless of their ethnicity. Cheyenne Kouri, a member of the Red Lake tribe in the Minneapolis area, values the marketplace as a means for people to express themselves and showcase their views through creativity.

The Indigenous Marketplace owes its success not only to its dedicated founder but also to its partnership with the SE Uplift neighborhood coalition. This collaboration helped bring the outdoor event to life and further promotes community support for Indigenous art and products.

Lluvia Merello, the founder of the Indigenous Marketplace, is heartened by the public’s response to the event. She sees it as an opportunity for Indigenous cultures to be appreciated and celebrated without the need to conform to anyone else’s expectations. Merello hopes to continue organizing the marketplace for as long as possible, to provide a safe and welcoming space for Indigenous people to be themselves.

The Portland Indigenous Marketplace, along with the vibrant Hawthorne Street Fair, contributes to Southeast Portland’s thriving art scene and reinforces the city’s commitment to inclusivity and cultural appreciation.

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