ST. IGNATIUS - It's another new beginning for the Three Chiefs Cultural Center in Saint Ignatiuswhich is opening a new center in Pablo.
We found out it's a homecoming of sorts and one that comes with not just a fresh start, but a fresh opportunity to share Indigenous culture.
Moving day is always stressful but imagine moving centuries of priceless Indigenous artifacts. It's what the women running the spent the last week doing, as they moved from their leased building in Saint Ignatius to a new location in Pablo.
“The Tribe wanted to get us into one building that was going to be able to safely house our collections and they bought the bank building and that’s in the process of continuing to be renovated,” explained Three Chiefs Cultural Center Program Director Marie Torosian. “We'll have a repository there. We can bring our collections back. Right now, they’re being stored in Helena at the [Montana] Historical Society’s warehouse.”
The last thing we want to do is go through another catastrophe with what we have left,” Torosian added.
That catastrophe happened in the fall of 2020 when an accused arsonist set fire to what was then called the People's Center in Pablo. He was found dead inside the building. Additionally, more than half of the museum's collection in the repository was lost.
The center won’t be returning to its former home. Instead, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) are leasing the old Glacier Bank building in Pablo where they are busy setting up.
“This is another temporary move for us. We’ll be there for — they told us for three to five years — until they get the new building planned and designed and go through all of that,’ Torosian told MTN News.
As the Three Chiefs Cultural Center rebounds, it continues to grow and recently hired an education coordinator to share and teach the Indigenous culture of the area.
“So, my job is to basically to educate anyway I can. So, if you need help with crafting or making things, making regalia or beadwork. If you want to learn something, I'm your girl," Nadia Adams explained. "It's my most important goal is to make people know we’re still here and to advocate for my people and be the person that helps in any way I can."
It's a new start to celebrate and teach the old ways and traditions of Salish, Kootenai and Pend d’Oreille people — and they’re ready for this next chapter as the caretakers of culture.
“This is something from my people. It’s so powerful, It's almost unexplainable. The connection is deeper than what can be explained," Adams said.
The Three Chiefs Cultural Center plans on holding an opening celebration in the near future but the date hasn't been set yet.