Report reviews efforts to preserve Tribal heritage

08.28.2014 Dean Rhodes Culture, Education

A lunchtime report presented on Tuesday, Aug. 26, signaled completion of a Spirit Mountain Community Fund grant and remaining funds from an earlier National Endowment for the Arts grant to help preserve the Tribe's cultural heritage.

Specifically, the project aimed at providing tools to integrate Tribal language with basketry tradition, said Emily West Afanador, program manager for the Oregon Folklife Network based at the University of Oregon in Eugene.

The funding allowed ongoing work on the traditional craft of weaving to continue to grow. Efforts included:

  • With earlier grants, the Tribe published three children's books describing the process of weaving cedar materials into baskets. The Oregon Folklife Network published the books in a run of 100 copies each, as well as presentation as e-books.
  • The grant enabled different tools to teach the practice, including the production of videos to show the process of traditional weaving.
  • A PowerPoint presentation was another tool in the process.
  • A curriculum was developed to serve as a basis to teach the books and the craft of basket weaving.

Kathy Cole, manager of the Cultural Outreach Program for the Tribe, observed the wide variety of ways these projects can be used, including teaching traditional weaving at many levels of learning and in different formats, including web presentations.

The book titles are "We Go Gather," "How to Make a Basket" and "Grandmother Cedar."

The help of many - educators, writers, translators and illustrators - went into development of all these tools. One book was illustrated by a kindergarten class in the Tribe's Education Department.

Videos describing the traditional process of weaving are presented three different ways: Chinuk narration with Chinuk subtitles; Chinuk narration with English subtitles; and Chinuk subtitles with English narration.

These presentations allow the material to meet different classroom needs, said translator Henry Zenk, a longtime language consultant for the Tribe and an expert in Chinuk languages.

Zenk has worked with Grand Ronde Tribal language and culture staff for years and contributed to the Chinuk language dictionary started in 2001 and published in a finished version by the Tribe in 2012.

Margaret Mathewson prepared the original PowerPoint presentation about traditional weaving practices. She is a nationally recognized expert in traditional basketry and plant materials, and has long been a consultant for the Tribe on various questions of Tribal tradition,

Judith Fernandes turned the PowerPoint into a curriculum for teaching the material. She is a curriculum specialist for the Northwest Indian Language Institute, and also a longtime consultant to the Tribe.

Fifteen attended the presentation held at the Chachalu Tribal Museum & Cultural Center, including project participants, language and culture staff, and Tribal Council member Denise Harvey.

The Grand Ronde drum group, with drumming and singing by others at the presentation, introduced the event.