General Council briefed on re-organized Cultural Resources Department

03.07.2017 Dean Rhodes Culture, General Council, Tribal Employees

Cultural Resources Department Manager David Harrelson briefed the membership on the newly re-organized Cultural Resources Department during the Sunday, March 5, General Council meeting held in the Community Center in Grand Ronde.

“The Cultural Resources Department exists to ensure knowledge of our ancestors and that our actions are known today and into the future,” Harrelson said. “I think of this like persistence. If we exist as a department, what our goal and what are we working toward is to make sure that we, as a people, persist and knowledge of us in the past and present is known in the future, as well as known today.”

Harrelson said the department went through a re-organization that started in June 2016 and saw the Lands and Culture Department split into two separate entities. The re-organization lasted through September, resulting in Harrelson being named department manager.

Harrelson displayed the department’s organizational chart during a PowerPoint display.

Harrelson broke down the different areas in Cultural Resources: Cultural Protection, Archaeology & Research, Collections, Chachalu Operations, Cultural Education and Cultural Interpretation.

Harrelson said the Collections Program has more than 600 Tribal baskets, which are displayed on a rotating basis at the Tribe’s museum and cultural center in the former Willamina School District building at 8720 Grand Ronde Road.

In response to Tribal Council member questions, Harrelson also discussed the recently created $3.28 million Cultural Resource Reserve Fund, as well as attempts to retrieve Grand Ronde artifacts included in the Summers Collection housed in the British Museum in London.

“As a part of that (reserve fund), we will be working this year on priorities and strategies for the use of those funds,” he said. “Primarily, that intent would be to focus on those core functions, such as now that we have all of these objects within our collection, we have an obligation to take care of those things first.”

The Summers Collection, gathered by a clergyman from myriad Native Tribes on the West Coast in 1870s, includes Grand Ronde items and the Tribe has been working on either getting those items returned or loaned to the Tribe for display.

Harrelson said the Tribe is currently hoping to have three items loaned to Chachalu for display so that Tribal artisans can examine and learn from them.

After his presentation, Harrelson fielded four questions and comments from the membership.

In other action, it was announced that the next General Council meeting will be held at 11 a.m. Sunday, April 2, at the Valley River Inn in Eugene. The program will be a presentation from the Tribal Employment Rights Office.

Tribal spouse Bob Duncan and Tribal Elders Dorothy Shortt and Gary Williams won the $100 door prizes and Tribal Elders Louise Coulson, Russell Wilkinson and Cherie Butler, as well as Dustin Hawks and Hallie Brewly won the $50 door prizes. Necklaces donated by Tribal Council Secretary Jon A. George also were raffled off.

Bobby Mercier, Eric Bernando, Harrelson and George performed the cultural drumming and singing to open the meeting.

The meeting, in its entirety, can be viewed on the Tribal website,, by clicking on the News tab and then Video.

Following the General Council meeting, approximately 35 Tribal members attended a Community Input meeting facilitated by General Manager David Fullerton. The meeting sought input from Tribal members about possible advisory votes of the membership.

The final Community Input meeting will be held immediately after the April 2 General Council meeting in Eugene.