Tribe contributes pieces to 'Tools of Survival' exhibit

06.29.2011 Dean Rhodes Culture, Events

"Tools of Survival" is the new show at the Willamette Heritage Center at the Mill and includes artifact contributions from the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde.

The show opened on Friday, June 24, in Salem.

Co-curators Peter Booth, executive director of the museum, and board member Michael Carrick, a weapons historian, say that weapons - from the dawn of time - tell a compelling story.

Weapons, of course, tell stories of defense and offense, but they also have always been used to put food on the table. For Booth and Carrick, they tell the story of time.

"It's about the part that weapons play in history," said Carrick, at the "members only" opening held on Thursday, June 23.

"A museum," said Booth, "is all about having the items that tell the story. Weapons are a constant in history. This is Oregon's past as told by the weapons that witnessed its history."

Of some 65 guns and almost 100 artifacts in all, Booth added, "We have some wonderful stories up there to tell."

He pointed to the first repeating firearm that took 20 minutes to reload.

He pointed to the 1917 Enfield "tree" rifle. It was found in the 1990s where it had been left leaning against a tree at the Biak Training area near Redmond, Ore. According to Tracy Thoennes, curator of the Oregon Military Museum, which owns the artifact, a soldier likely out of Camp Adair's 96th Division left it by that tree during a 1943 training before shipping out overseas. Notably, over the years, the tree grew around the rifle and ate away at the wood stock butt.

Stressing the longstanding requirement that soldiers hold on to their weapons, Thoennes said, "How the contingent could leave without that weapon is still a mystery."

The Tribal contribution to the show includes many artifacts from the Cultural Resources Department, including a cannon ball from Fort Yamhill and a few items - a trade ax, powder horn and bag - traced back to the Hudson's Bay Company of the early 1800s. The Tribe also contributed a bow and arrow from the 1830s, Kalapuya points, a fish club, a stone ax head, and a buckskin quiver to the exhibit.

Representing the Tribe were three Tribal members from the Schultz family: Khani Schultz, Julie Brown and Kevin Schultz, Operations commander for the Marion County Sheriff's Office.

Khani, who is Cultural Collections coordinator for the Tribe, put the artifacts together for the show, and Kevin pulled double duty, also representing the Marion County Sheriff. The Oregon State Sheriffs' Association also contributed artifacts to the exhibit.

The design of the show is chronological, starting with Grand Ronde artifacts that go back untold years and moving forward to World War II artifacts. Grand Ronde artifacts start the show with the Native Oregon section, and also are included in the Trappers and Indian Wars sections, said Booth.

All of the Grand Ronde contributions but one comes from the Cultural Resources collection. Tribal Elder Peachie Hamm Petite loaned the exhibit a little dagger that came from her grandmother, former Tribal Elder Mary Susie LaBonte, who "tucked it in her belt," Khani said. As a single mother, she used it for protection.

The exhibit runs through Saturday, Aug. 20.