Chachalu hosts Oregon Museums Association workshop

By Dean Rhodes

Smoke Signals editor

More than 30 members of the Oregon Museums Association attended a five-hour workshop at the Chachalu Tribal Museum & Cultural Center on Monday, March 9, to learn about Grand Ronde efforts regarding historical interpretation and collections care.

The presentation opened at 10 a.m. with drumming inside the replica plankhouse at the entrance to Chachalu by Lands and Culture Manager Jan Looking Wolf Reibach, Tribal Council member Jon A. George and Land and Culture employees David Harrelson, Bobby Mercier, Travis Stewart and Brian Krehbiel.

Veronica Montano, Tribal Cultural Collections supervisor, shows attendees of the Oregon Museums Association Spring Workshop one of her favorite baskets in the Tribe’s collection at the Chachalu Tribal Museum & Cultural Center on Monday, March 9. (Photo by Michelle Alaimo)

George welcomed workshop attendees in Chinuk Wawa along with fellow Tribal Council members Tonya Gleason-Shepek and Denise Harvey.

“It is a blessing to have these gifted and talented people in our Land and Culture Department,” George said, “and you will learn from them about who we are. The Tribe brings it all together here in the hands of these beautiful people. We are honored today to have you on our lands and in our cultural center.”

Inside Chachalu, Oregon Museums Association Vice President Kathleen Daly gave a program introduction, saying it was a day of “reciprocation” between the association and the Tribe. Daly is a museum technician at the Oregon Military Museum in Clackamas.

Reibach then gave a Tribal history overview, explaining first how Chachalu received its name, which means “place of the burning timber” in Tualatin Kalapuya.

“For our Tribal people,” Reibach said about the forest fire that burned through the area before Tribal ancestors arrived on the Reservation in the 1850s, “fire is not a bad thing. Fire brings renewal and purification. And we’ve been burned over a couple of times and now we’re healing.”

Reibach also covered the Tribe’s history from time immemorial through the treaties and Reservation era through Termination and Restoration. He received helped from Restoration figure and Tribal Elder Kathryn Harrison, who recalled the efforts of Tribal members in the late 1970s and early 1980s to regain federal recognition.

“Can you imagine living on your land for 14,000 years?” Reibach asked attendees, adding that is what Grand Ronde Tribal members have done. “Our goal is to have a voice and be a steward of our lands,” he said, adding that Tribal members are still connected to western Oregon as their homeland even though it was ceded to the federal government in seven treaties during the 1850s.

Reibach was followed by Tribal Historic Preservation Officer David Harrelson, who spoke about the Tribal perspective concerning collections.

After a buffet lunch prepared by Nutrition Program Manager Kristy DeLoe and her staff, attendees learned how the Tribe processes cultural collections from Cultural Collections Supervisor Veronica Montano, who gave a curation demonstration involving basketry.

The event wrapped up with Exhibits Supervisor Julie Brown and Museum & Cultural Center Specialist Reina Nelson giving guided tours of the museum.

Heather Kliever, registrar at the Linn County Historical Society, said she attended the workshop because her organization does not have any Native historical interpretation in its museum.

“We hope to work with the Tribe (in doing so),” she said.

“This is a great honor for the Tribe to be called upon by the OMA to share about our history and the museum,” Reibach said.

The Oregon Museums Association is a nonprofit membership organization that provides resources and services to more than 200 museums, cultural institutions and associated professionals in Oregon.