Chachalu capital campaign moves into second phase of fundraising

03.13.2014 Dean Rhodes Culture, History, Tribal employees, Events

The $2 million first phase work on Chachalu, the Tribal museum and cultural center being constructed in the former Willamina Middle School building off Grand Ronde Road, will open Thursday, June 5.

The capital campaign to raise funds for the second phase of development has started. 

Approximately $2 million is needed to complete Phase II of the project. The second phase of work will include 4,500 square feet of additional exhibit space, areas for permanent museum features and rotating exhibits, exhibit preparation room, additional areas for proper collection processing, classrooms, a research room and conference room, offices for operations, areas for cultural demonstrations and space for a potential gift shop.

The completion of Phase II will support increased operations, including extended and expanded operating hours for public visits and tours, development of permanent museum-like exhibits and demonstrations, additional culture classes, workshops and events for Tribal members and a volunteer program for Tribal Elders and members. It also will qualify for additional grants, increased intake of public and private artifact collections, and evaluation of potential cultural tourism opportunities. 

To date, the capital campaign has raised 8 percent to 9 percent of the expected Phase II costs. Work will begin once the necessary funding is raised.

As of March 10, $31,859.92 in donations had been received, which includes income from raffles, a silent auction at the 30th Restoration Celebration, a direct mail effort, online donations, and direct donations from Tribal members, their families and the community.

The capital campaign for Phase II also has been awarded $28,484 in grant funding specifically earmarked for the project.

Applications have been made to Tribal foundations and more mainstream foundations, including the Meyer Memorial Trust and Ford Family and Hearst foundations.

The Chachalu Museum and Cultural Center is a long-sought and widely cherished project that has been part of Tribal thinking from as long ago as 1983's Restoration. The dream was formalized in the Tribe's 2010 Strategic Plan, and now is being implemented by the Land and Culture Department, headed by Manager Jan Looking Wolf Reibach.

"The effort started years ago with many people who worked hard to make this happen," Reibach said. "The Tribe was looking for the right location and opportunity to develop the center in a way that would be sustainable for generations to come."

The project fits into the Land and Culture Department's Mission Statement that reads in part "to identify, protect, preserve, restore, procure and manage the Tribe's ancestral lands, cultural places, cultural places, cultural collections and practices throughout the Tribe's ceded lands and areas of interest."

 "This is a historic time for the Tribe," Reibach said. "The first time that we have ever had an adequate, committed place to process and store Tribal artifacts; the first time for permanent museum exhibit space, cultural center and a place for Land and Culture programs to work together."

Phase I, started in 2013, involved partial construction and renovation of the building, relocation of Land and Culture Department staff, and the building and opening of the project's first exhibit space. It is slated for completion in March.

Construction and renovation in the first phase established an archive room, collections processing center, storage areas for the Tribe's collections, an archeology lab and office space.

The Tribe contributed about $2.6 million to that phase, including, in 2011, almost $685,000 for the purchase of the Willamina Middle School building that also included more than eight acres.

Tribal Historian David Lewis called the project's progress "awesome."

"I came into the Tribe (in 2006) being told that we were building the museum," Lewis said. "I've been a part of this and working toward it since. Now we are doing it.

"A museum and cultural center is the height of development for any community and culture, and in Grand Ronde it allows us to see and express our highest aspirations for the community.

"We will be able to show people in and beyond the community that we have an amazing history here and a very unique culture here. It is important to all of Oregon to have this development.

"I think as a cultural center, we will be able to concentrate all of our efforts in the research and development of language, in crafts like weaving and carving, and we'll be able to concentrate on the research and history of the Tribe to a greater degree.

"The museum will attract a specific clientele that really wants to know about the Tribe, to learn things in a good way."

Cultural Education and Outreach Program Manager Kathy Cole said, "It's a place to help Tribal members bring back their cultural identity and bring back the ways of our ancestors. It will give Tribal people a chance to see the things that our ancestors made and hopefully inspire them to want to do the same. It will also give us a chance to have all of the cultural activities happen in one location."

As the project develops, the days mark new successes and the arrival of pieces of the final project, large and small. For example, Lewis said, shelving for the building's archives just came in.

The capital campaign team at the Tribe, with the support of Land and Culture Department staff, includes Reibach, Public Affairs Director Siobhan Taylor, Tribal Historian David Lewis, Tribal Engineer Jesse White, Planning and Grants Development Manager Kim Rogers, Assistant General Manager Chris Leno, Tribal Finance Officer Julio Martinez, Tribal Attorney Jennifer Biesack and fundraising consultant Rich Foster. The team works closely with Tribal Council in carrying out the fundraising activities of the campaign.

The builder for Phase I is Corvallis-based Gerding Builders. The architects are Seattle-based Jones & Jones and Roseburg-based Paul L. Bentley Architecture.

John Paul Jones, principal of the firm bearing his name, is a highly respected architect in Indian Country. His firm has done the architecture for the National Museum of the American Indian on the mall in Washington, D.C., and for the longhouses at Oregon State University, the University of Oregon and Evergreen College.

Chachalu is the Tualatin/Yamhill Kalapuya word for "place of burnt timbers." It refers to a huge forest fire that burned through the Grand Ronde valley just before relocation occurred in 1856. Just as the valley forests have healed, the Grand Ronde Tribe continues to heal, Reibach said.

To make a donation dedicated to building Chachalu, go to the Tribal website: