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Artwork, Reflection & a Seat at the Table

Updated: Oct 9, 2023

Artwork, Reflection, and a Seat at The Table

In honor of Native American History Month, we are sharing local Indigenous artists that are being showcased -- at the Gonzaga Family Haven’s Reflection Space.

The first artist is Randall Schleufer (a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe), who has been working alongside Peggy Haun-McEwen, the Director of Community at GFH.

As the Reflection Space art collaborator and a self-made indigenous local artist, Schleufer is also the President of the Board of Directors for the Salish School of Spokane.

When collaborating with Gonzaga Family Haven, Schleufer made it clear that it was through the Indigenous American gaze that the Reflection space was to be geared toward, being more than happy to lend his artistry and expertise to the project.

Developing The GFH Refection Space

Developing the Reflection Spaces art components held a lot of meaning; it was important that people understand that the lines of the past and the future are connected but that people shouldn’t be stuck on harmful and dismissive past narratives.

“People keep holding us back in the past, and so it’s hard to show our relevance today.”

Focusing on this fact is where he sparks change as he leads his community forward.

When confronted with the question of what makes a native artist, Schleufer is reflective and hopeful, as he understands the relevance of the work, he, and other indigenous artists are currently doing in public spaces.

Schleufer embraces his indigenous heritage fully. Understanding that as indigenous people-- their community and cultural identity are needed to express who they are without the constraints of what indigenous art and culture are perceived to be.

Concluding, “I am a native artist because I am native, and I can’t not be a native artist.”

Scouting out other artists who would be contributing to the Reflection Space was a fairly easy thing for Schleufer to do it seemed. Randall shared that it was important that-- “artists have free reign, just to express whatever they want and whatever they need, and to let people know that we are still here, and that is how, and why our work is completely relevant to everything we’re doing.”

Interactive Learning- A Seat at the Table

Gonzaga Family Haven’s Reflection space is a calm oasis-- meets teaching space, meets socializing hub-- and because of that, Schleufer has made sure to make some of the artwork interactive for people utilizing that space.

One such mural has been painted on one of the north-facing walls. Within the images houses a technology that interacts with smartphones.

The image above is an interactive mural by Randall Schleufer - Couer d'Alene Tribe

Visitors can learn Salish words by using their smartphone camera.

Using a smartphone camera activates the voice of a late elder speaker who will pronounce the image that the viewer has selected with their camera in Salish.

Experiencing the Gonzaga Family Haven Reflection space firsthand is a breathtaking and beautiful experience if you are lucky enough to stop by.

Through it all, there are layers of trauma that Randall does not want to brush under the carpet. Trauma that involves Native Americans throughout the United States, and the Catholic Church.

Barrier Free Learning

Schleufer’s approach is to teach the Salish language (which is incredibly diverse throughout different regions of the Pacific Northwest), to as many people as will listen and are willing to learn, as well as partnering with Catholic-centered non-profits like CCEW, to allow for that healing to occur.

In fact, Randall devotes as much time to his family and career as he does to his indigenous roots.

Randall teaches Salish at the Salish School of Spokane on Wednesday evenings from 6-7:30 p.m. His wife is also an educator at the Salish School, while his children attend as students.

Schleufer believes that healing comes from dealing with issues head-on, and because Salish is a dying language, he wants as many people (with the right intentions) to learn it as possible.

Inclusion is also a big part of the Salish School of Spokane, where most of the students in his class are not native but are interested in learning and want to help in preserving the language, while other members of his class are native and are trying to keep family and tribal traditions alive.

A Love of Community

Mr. Schleufer loves the community and culture that indigenous communities foster.

“In American culture, you have to pay to participate in your own culture; you have to pay for your music, you have to pay for your stories, you have to pay for your clothes, that’s something that we try...that we don't do."

One of the things that the Salish School believes in is removing barriers by making accessibility to services a standard in their curriculum-- as they offer free daycare and free dinner to families who attend evening Salish classes.

Removing barriers continues at the Gonzaga Family Haven Reflection Space-- the hub of its community outreach.

Walking into the Reflection Space, you will see connecting blue cushions (representing water, which is an important element to the Coeur d 'Alene and Spokane tribes).

When you visit the GFH Reflection Space, you will see artwork from Emma Noyes (Confederated Tribes of Colville Reservation), Danica Parkin (Sinixt), Stef Marchand Rueben (Sinixt), and other featured artists.

Above: Artwork by Emma Noyes - Confederated Tribes of Coville Reservation

Artwork by Danica Parkin - Sinixt

Stef Marchand Rueben - Sinixt

Mr. Schleufer is an impressive act to follow, and his life and experiences have guided him to be the leader his community needs.

Peggy Haun-McEwen and Randall Schleufer have created an inviting meeting space for the Gonzaga Family Haven community. One that has the building blocks of inclusion and also removes barriers.

Schleufer, R. (2022, November 16). (N. Griffin, R. Schleufer, Peggy Haun-McEwen, Eds.).



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