Grand Ronde Tribe tells own history through new exhibit, Rise of the Collectors

Cynthia McGowan, assistant collections manager at the British Museum in London, holds up a cooking basket for The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Tribal Council member Kathleen George, second from right, and Grand Ronde Tribal Council Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy so that they can see the bottom during the Summers Collection welcome event held at Chachalu Museum & Cultural Center in Grand Ronde, Ore., on Wednesday, May 23. Photo: Michelle AlaimoMichelle Alaimo

The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde is telling their own history through a new exhibit, Rise of the Collectors

News Release

The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde

The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde is telling their own history through a new exhibit, Rise of the Collectors, opening today at the tribe’s Chachalu Museum and Cultural Center in Grand Ronde. Featured in the exhibit are 16 items that are on loan from the British Museum in London that have spent much of the last century out of the public eye. Today’s opening culminates a 20 year effort by the Grand Ronde Tribe to return these collections to the Grand Ronde Reservation for the tribal community and share these culturally significant artifacts with the public.

*“*The Rise of the Collectors exhibit is a story of a people who were meant to be, a people’s resilience, a people’s relationship to place, and a people’s perseverance through their culture,” stated Grand Ronde Tribal Chairwoman Cheryle Kennedy. “As a tribe, we have the responsibility to tell our own history and our own story. The Rise of the Collectors is our story. ”

Rise of the Collectors features the personal belongings of Rev. Robert Summers and Dr. Andrew Kershaw that were collected between 1870 and 1910. Dr. Andrew Kershaw resided on the Grand Ronde Reservation for 20 years as the physician, and then superintendent, for the Grand Ronde Agency. His collection is the result of friendships established with the tribal members that he served. Rev. Summers began purchasing artifacts and journaling about tribal life on the Grand Ronde Reservation with his wife, Lucia, who collected and dried plants from the area. Rev. Summers and his wife spent approximately 25 years traveling throughout the West in pursuit of their collections.

“This exhibit is about reclaiming our ancestor’s belongings as living objects,” stated Grand Ronde Cultural Resources Department Manager David Harrelson. “These belongings will be studied and replicated by our people to keep the traditions and cultural practices of our ancestors alive for future generations.”

The Chachalu Museum and Cultural Center and the Rise of the Collectors exhibit is open to the public and will run through May of 2019. The Chachalu Museum and Cultural Center was originally opened by the Grand Ronde Tribe in 2014 and is being developed through a three-phase process. The June reopening marks the completion of Phase II of the three-phase development.

For more information contact the Grand Ronde Tribe’s Cultural Resources Department. They can be reached at cultural.resources@grandronde.org or by phone at 503-879-2226.

About the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde: The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde is a federally recognized tribe located in western Oregon. It includes more than 30 tribes and bands from western Oregon, southwestern Washington and northern California that were relocated to the Grand Ronde Reservation between 1855-1875.

For more information, visit www.grandronde.org.

Comments
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Jacki Rand
Jacki Rand

Community-based projects were just beginning to be imagined during the original NMAI consultations. Tribal scholars and cultural activists believed that they could only happen through partnership with the Smithsonian which was in no way prepared for such work. Community-based initiatives such as this represent a significant advancement from those conversations in the early 1990s. They look quite different from what community scholars imagined back then. It’s kind of amazing that they’re happening all over Indian Country now.