A museum of Native American history has a new home in Belcourt.
The Turtle Mountain Chippewa Heritage Center officially opened today, with the promise of showing off the rich history of the people and the land.
Jim Olson was there as the new building was dedicated.
(Loann Jerome, Tribal Council Member) “This is one of the Red River Carts. This particular one was made by my uncle Dan and my cousin Owen.”
Loann Jerome is proud of this example of tribal craftsmanship from long ago – a cart used to transport trade goods to and from nearby rivers where the Chippewa met trading partners.
(Loann Jerome, Tribal Council Member) “It’s all handmade, there’s not any bolts or anything. It’s all just wood.”
And it sits inside the brand new Turtle Mountain Chippewa Heritage Center – that Jerome, a new tribal council member, worked to get open.
(Kathy Peltier Zaste, Turtle Mountain Chippewa Heritage Center Director) “Wonderful. It’s going to be great for the community, great for our children, great for our school system, and bringing in tourism.”
Kathy Peltier Zaste says the new location for the tribal museum – right across the parking lot from the Sky Dancer Casino – is ideal.
(Kathy Peltier Zaste, Turtle Mountain Chippewa Heritage Center Director) “We’ve had a lot of people walking over and stopping in.”
(Les Thomas, ND Native Tourism Alliance) “It’s all about teamwork in putting everything together.”
Les Thomas leads the statewide effort to promote tourism in Indian Country. He says this new center will be a key part of the effort to attract visitors.
(Les Thomas, ND Native Tourism Alliance) “This is going to be the hub for the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa to develop amenities and a tourism package.”
(Kathy Peltier Zaste, Turtle Mountain Chippewa Heritage Center Director) “We have artifacts from the 1800s, we have our own artifacts that date back even prior to that and we want our own tribal people to bring in artifacts that they have they want to share.”
Whether its a tribute to Native Americans’ contributions to the US military, or war clubs used long ago, the Heritage Center is designed to show the world how the Chippewa culture evolved.
(Kathy Peltier Zaste, Turtle Mountain Chippewa Heritage Center Director) “That’s what our Heritage Center is – to share our culture.”
Near Belcourt, Jim Olson, KX News.
The Heritage Center is located just a few miles west of Belcourt – along Highway 5 – adjacent to the Sky Dancer Casino.