Cedar Rose, Painted Sky, and Border Crossing

Karen KitchenHello, my name is Karen Kitchen and I’m a member of the Osage Nation of Oklahoma. I grew up in Oklahoma, but I’ve lived here in Oregon since the early 1980s. I work as an educator and a musician. I’ve worked for Portland public schools for many many years and for the last 10 yrs I have been at the Indian Education Program, which is a Title VII program. I have the wonderful opportunity to work with American Indians, Alaskan natives, students, and their families – grades K-12 – although primarily my focus is high school and making sure that the students get all the credits they need and successfully complete high school and move on and hopefully go to college or some kind of great career path. Also, I get to teach music – particularly Native songs to children ages 3-5 that go to our Native Montessori program. That’s been a real delightful new aspect of my work here at Indian Ed.

I’m a vocalist. I sing with the group Border Crossing. We’ve been performing regularly in this area for about the last 15-20 years. I sing with another woman, Nico Wind, from time to time. We have a little group called Cedar Rose. I’ve recently been appearing with the Trail Band. They’ve created a Lewis and Clark-themed program and I guest star and sing a wonderful Yakama round dance with them.

Also, I’ve been fortunate to get to be involved in some of the theater aspects of the Native community here. I was recently in a program called ‘Ghosts of Celilo’. A few years ago I was in a Lakota play called ‘Trail of Tobray’.

I’m also outreach director for not for profit organization called Painted Sky. With Painted Sky, our mission is to provide music and dance opportunities for American Indians and Alaskan native youth. One of the folks that’s a part of Painted Sky; one of the founders is the great Dine musician Arlie Neskahi. It was partly through meeting Arlie several years ago that I decided to pursue learning and performing native songs. In fact many of the songs I do perform I’ve learned directly from Arlie.