Local Culture and Tribal Community

Historically an affordable city for the arts, as it has grown so has the visibility of its deep culture. Whether you’re a fan of theater, live music, funky foods or just being outside, Portland has something for you. 

You might even consider visiting these communities or attractions by bike. With miles of protected bike lanes (many of which are adorned with special designs), and even a month-long bike festival every summer, Portland is any bicyclist’s dream. Click here to learn more about Portland’s thriving biking culture.

Portland's Cultural Communities

Native American Community: Portland’s urban Native community is descended from more than 380 tribes, and there are nine sovereign Native American nations located throughout Oregon. Each nation inhabits its own reservation and welcomes visitors in their own way, according to their respective customs and traditions. The Portland Art Museum's Center for Contemporary Native Art showcases the work of modern-day Native American artists. The innovative gallery hosts annual exhibitions along with a range of related talks and activities co-created by the artists.

Hispanic and Latinx Community: Oregon’s growing Hispanic and Latinx population is concentrated in the Portland region and offers rich resources for visitors. Points of interest include the Portland Mercado, The Grotto, and The Venderia: Portland’s Wacky, Whimsical Vending Machines.

Portland’s Black Community: Of the non-Native people who settled in Oregon, Black pioneers were among the earliest to arrive. In the years since, Black people have overcome barriers and discrimination to make significant contributions to politics, medicine, the environment, sports, and the arts in Oregon. Portland today is home to nearly 40,000 Black residents with a vibrant Black culture, most of whom live on the city’s eastside.

Japanese American Community: Japanese Americans have been a vital part of Portland's history for generations. Connect with Portland's rich Japanese-American heritage at sites around the city including the Nichiren Buddhist Temple of PortlandJapanese American Historical Plaza, and Friendship Circle.

Chinese American Community: From 1880 to 1910 Portland’s Chinatown was second in size only to San Francisco’s. Today, the growing Chinese population is spread throughout the city, as are a variety of Chinese-owned businesses, Chinese schools, and activities. A year-round wonder, the Lan Su Chinese Garden is an authentic Ming Dynasty-style garden built by Suzhou artisans that brings together art, architecture, design, and nature in this 2,000-year-old Chinese tradition. The garden takes up an entire block of the city’s historic Chinatown district.

Jewish Community: Portland is home to more than 40,000 Jewish residents, and Jewish history in Oregon goes back to 1849. In times of social upheaval and political uncertainty, museums like The Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education are more relevant than ever. Explore the rich history and ongoing resiliency of Oregon’s diverse Jewish community with interactive exhibits and experiences for all ages.

Indian American Community: Portland and neighboring suburbs are home to a thriving and growing population of almost 10,000 Indian American residents. The India Cultural Association (ICA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing Indian cultural awareness in Portland. The Association was established in 1980 and hosts the popular India Festival every year in mid-August to celebrate India’s independence day.

Arab American Community: Oregon’s Arab American community is one of the fastest growing in the U.S. More than 31,000 Arab Americans are living in Oregon. Their diverse presence and rich culture are felt across the region through community centers, festivals, popular restaurants, and other social and educational events.

Keeping Portland Weird: In Portland, being dubbed “weird” is never an insult. Locals delight in enjoying the pleasantly unexpected, whether it be watching adults zoom down an extinct volcano in soapbox derby cars, or crafting deliciously strange new types of doughnuts. Do as locals do and embrace the city’s quirky vibes using this guide to Portland’s weird culture

Learn more and plan your NDiSTEM visit by visiting Travel Portland's site today!

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