Nisqually Middle School to create murals inspired by Nisqually tribal history


In honor of its tribal namesake, Lacey’s Nisqually Middle school plans to commission murals inspired by the people, landscape, and wildlife that reflect the tribal culture and history of this area.

At a special joint work session between the North Thurston Public School Board and the Nisqually Tribal Council on Tue., June 8 the district unveiled its plans for several related projects at the middle school.

The project was a part of the school’s goal to create a culturally responsive academic environment. The project is funded by a school improvement grant.

In his presentation, Nisqually Middle School Principal David Crane shared that the project would be a result of a community collaboration of artists, school staff, and students as he recognized that the “Nisqually Middle school resides on tribal ground.”

To help conceptualize the mural, the school invited two artists, Joe Seymour and Tim Kerr, to design its walls.

Seymour is an award-winning Native artist. His accomplishments include winning the 2008 Native Arts grant in Seattle, and the National Native Creative Development Program grant at Evergreen State College.

For the project, Seymour will work on creating a 3-D design of the moon and Mount Tahoma, complete with LED lighting. In addition, he will work on the south wall to create a forest theme design.

Kerr is an international artist who has showcased his work both within, and outside of the U.S. In fact, the artist showed his portraits in several art galleries in London, and Germany. He also had his own solo show at the Rosa Parks Gallery Museum.

For this project, Kerr plans to fill the east wall with portraits of influential Nisqually figures including Chief Leschi and Billy Frank Jr. He also wants to add a map of the Nisqually land especially since the school is situated on historic tribal grounds.

Nisqually Middle School’s visual arts teacher, Shay O’Day is tasked with creating landscapes for the mural.

 Principal Crane added that they would also fill the school hallways with Nisqually river scenes and salmon images. He added that each of the fishes would represent a student’s ancestor.

The mural will also coincide with the school’s plan to expand its Nisqually history advisories next year. The staff’s goal is to educate students about history through the native perspective.

In a statement, 11th-grade teacher Alison McCartan shared that she wanted to retell native experiences and educate students about the myths and misconceptions surrounding Native Americans. McCartan believed that it is necessary, “for kids to get a well-rounded idea of what history is and even [what] the unpleasant parts of history are.”


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