ST. IGNATIUS — While work continues to try and save some of the priceless artifacts lost in a 2020 fire at the CKST's People's Center, no decision has been made on where those are going to be permanently displayed. But in the meantime, visitors are still being welcomed to stop by.
It's a long and meticulous road back for staff and restoration experts working with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT), as they save the artifacts that were caught in the devastating fire which destroyed the People's Center.
Some of the cleaning and restoration is being done locally while some have been sent to restoration experts in Colorado and elsewhere in Montana.
"All the material culture, all the beadwork, any feather work is all, about three-quarters of that, is still in storage out at Ninepipes," Three Chiefs Cultural Center Program Director Marie Torosian told MTN News. "And the rest is with Nancy, down at her studio in Wilsall and she's working on those. And it's the same work for her. It's just tedious.
"It takes one, you know, one at a time. And beadwork, it depends on the type of bead it is. What she can use to clean it."
A few weeks ago, we showed you how conservator Joe Abbrescia of Kalispell has been able to clean and save some of the artwork caught in the inferno, bringing the colorful and important creations back to life with some of the paintings dating back more than a century.
And through it all Torosion says the community's interest and support has been key to keeping the momentum of the work going.
"They've been a part of this from the start for you know, back in groundbreaking in 1993 and opening our doors to the public in '95. And all the years that we had students, their schools and groups, and they've been a part of us. And they were part of us through the fire as well and through the loss and devastation and healing, they've been there for us for our healing. And now still today, here at Three Chiefs they're here with us again."
The tribe still hasn't come up with a permanent plan for where the museum will be long-term. It could be here at Three Chiefs or elsewhere. But Torosian says people should feel welcome to stop by to see the displays and learn of the tribal culture and stories.
"You know, the Museum and Culture Center has always been a welcoming place for everybody, tribal and non," Torosian says. "And we welcome people to come in and learn about who we are as Salish Qlispe Ksanka People."
We'll take you behind the scenes on Wednesday for an exclusive look at the restoration process.