Chachalu fired up over June 5 grand opening

05.29.2014 Dean Rhodes Culture, Events

The Grand Ronde Tribe and community, near and far, are invited to the opening of the first phase of Chachalu, the Tribal Museum and Cultural Center, at 4 p.m. Thursday, June 5.

Chachalu is a Tualatin Kalapuya word meaning "place of the burning timber."

This cultural dream of the Tribal community, almost since Restoration, is now undeniably on its way.

"Word about Chachalu is spreading fast through our Tribal membership and regional academic communities," said Land and Culture Department Manager Jan Looking Wolf Reibach, one of the leads in making this happen.

"With a great interest in this new chapter in the Tribe's cultural history, inquiries to donate artifacts and items into the Tribe's collections have increased substantially. Also, people are coming forward with offers to volunteer after our opening."

Chachalu has already started holding cultural classes in two classrooms and has an interactive iPad station with a new language application where people can practice Chinuk Wawa.

"That's the reason that we are here," said Reibach, "to help connect Tribal members with their culture, with their artifacts and with their history. After all, those things belong to them."

The museum building, the former Willamina Middle School that was purchased by the Tribe in 2011, is partly sheathed in cedar donated by Willamette National Forest. The whole building will have a cedar exterior when completed.

At the entrance of the museum is an exhibit showing the plankhouse experience.

The collections room holds one of the largest basket collections in the Pacific Northwest. On display is a piece of Tomanowos, also known as the Willamette meteorite.

Exhibits tell the Grand Ronde story, a history of more than 14,000 years up to present-day Grand Ronde.

  "So many folks have worked hard for years to make this dream a reality," said Reibach. "Tribal Council's support of Tribal culture and the direction for this project have paved the way to put this together. Staff here is working as a team in developing the many processes to manage Chachalu now that we have a facility in place."

Chachalu is at 8720 Grand Ronde Road. The opening ceremony will occur outside, weather permitting, and include an opening prayer, drum song, welcome, Tribal Council member remarks and recognitions. Those attending will be able to walk through the facility from 4:45 to 6:30 p.m.

Light refreshments will be provided.

For more information, contact the Tribe's Land & Culture Department at 503-879-2226.