Preliminary discussions underway on where to build the Nisqually Tribe Historical Museum

By Eric Rosane / [email protected]

The Nisqually Indian Tribe is in preliminary talks with two towns in Thurston County on where to build a new historical museum, and the town of Yelm is one of them.

Yelm and the Town of Lacey have been approached with concurrent talks still underway on the project, said Hanford McCloud, tribal council member and Nisqually culture specialist.

The tribe is currently looking to build an official museum space to better tell the story of its people while possibly displaying artifacts of historical significance. Related to this is the Yelm Prairie as well, as the locals have made it their home for thousands of years.

“I’m quite happy that we’re working towards a museum that tells the story of Yelm and also the Nisqually people, and shares this rich history that we have,” McCloud told NVN. “The need for a Nisqually museum is really great.”

McCloud and Yelm City officials stressed those talks were still preliminary, with no venues having yet been locked down. But that didn’t stop a group of stakeholders from forming in Yelm.

The group – made up of members of the city, local school districts, the city arts commission and the Yelm Historical Society – held an informal meeting on February 5, Yelm public works director Cody said. Colt. The ad hoc group discussed what they believed to be an appropriate museum while clarifying the needs.

Colt said this opportunity presents a special opportunity for the tribe and the city to collaboratively tell their stories together.

“Every bit of the story has to be recognized… I think it’s extremely important,” said Colt, a former history teacher at Yelm Middle School. “You don’t have a really good historical museum in the area. There is a real need for that.

The Nisqually Tribe currently does not have an official museum, McCloud said, although it maintains its own library and cultural center.

Yelm currently has a museum, although it is staffed by volunteers and barely opened, even before the coronavirus pandemic. The museum is overseen by the Yelm Prairie Historical Society.

The town of Lacey operates a museum with specialized exhibits. It is currently looking to expand into a new, larger space near St. Martin’s University – a project that has been underway for 10 years. The schematic design for a new museum in Lacey was completed last year, according to the city, and could be a real draw for the tribe.

Yelm is currently in the design and costing phase of building a new business incubator-training center at the corner of Washington and Third Street, and there has been talk that the tribe museum could be built jointly or in parallel with this project if chosen for the location.

Last October, Yelm City Council approved a design agreement and a cost estimate of nearly $ 135,000 for the proposed joint-use building, which is expected to rise two to three stories in downtown Montreal. city. One possible idea thrown around, Colt said, is that the group would add the museum to the property or structure if it suits them.

“The idea is that it could either be in conjunction with the economic development center, with the incubation center being part of it, or it could be a separate thing,” Colt said. “And that’s kind of what we’re looking at right now.”

Colt said Yelm’s stakeholder group is also looking at funding prospects, what grants the tribe or city might apply for, and the possibility of eventually bringing in state or federal lawmakers.

McCloud said the new tribe museum would also seek to highlight work on fishing rights and environmentalism that has taken root over the past 40 to 50 years in the Nisqually Valley, particularly work on the estuary and the prairie with state and federal tribal partners.


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