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Charlie Banks-Altecruse, Jordan Clark, Haroleen Bowlan, Paul Irwin - Photo by Claudia Chavez

Local Treasure: What’s Next For Sierra Mono Museum?

NORTH FORK — Tucked away in the exact center of California, the Sierra Mono Museum is conveniently located along the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway, open for visitors to catch a glimpse of Mono lifestyle, and treasures of yesterday and today.

This year, Sierra Mono Museum is celebrating 50 years of leadership in the protection and preservation of Western Mono Indian culture, artifacts, and language. They’re celebrating and growing, and the community is invited to come along on the journey.

The museum’s holdings currently includes the Tettelton Wildlife collection, with over 100 freestanding taxidermy animals from Northern America, Asia, and South America. Artifacts and baskets are on display, donated and on loan by members of the Mono Tribe. There’s also a gift shop.

In September, the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians of California received a $605,000 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Indian Community Development Block Grant (ICDBG) Program grant to begin a planned expansion and renovation of the Sierra Mono Museum.

The Tribe will be leveraging additional grant funds for parking improvements, for a total project cost of $699,282. The renovation and expansion will address accessibility to the museum, as well as the collection environment including temperature, relative humidity, and lighting for preservation of the collection. Improvements will provide additional storage and display space, and a 1,360 square foot expansion will create an entry lobby and reception area, gift shop area, dedicated office space, and a multipurpose room to be used for workshops, meetings, and exhibits.

The influx of funds is welcome news and, meanwhile, organizers are keeping an eye on what will keep the doors open after renovation. The HUD grant can only cover specific costs such as expanding the building, parking lot, restrooms and other necessary renovations.

“Most of the Museum revenues are currently derived from private donations, modest museum entrance and membership fees, gift store sales, and proceeds from its annual event, the Indian Fair and PowWow Day,” says Executive Housing Director, Paul Irwin.

Outside of the expansion grant, the Museum is self-sustaining with no operating funds from the county, state or federal governments. The “Half-Century Capital Campaign” is underway to raise awareness, support, and short-term operating funds for the state’s oldest Native-owned-and-operated historical museum.

At the 47th Annual Indian Fair Days and PowWow held in August, the museum and North Fork Rancheria kicked off the campaign with an official target goal of raising $250,000.

Jodie Ramirez, Carrissa Engle, Haroleen Bowlan, Logan Ramirez, Colt Engle, Levi Ramirez, Tom Wheeler, Sandy Clark – photo by Gina Clugston

Money raised from the “Half Century Capital Campaign” will go towards designing and developing interactive displays inside of the museum, along with programs, and classes to preserve Western Mono Indian culture.

“Part of the campaign is to build up the number of programs we have to keep the museum vibrant and alive,” says Campaign Director, Charlie Banks-Altekruse.

The museum is holding an Annual Membership Thanksgiving Dinner Drive at North Fork School in Kennedy Hall on Saturday, Nov. 18. Doors will open at 11 a.m. and dinner will be served from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.

The campaign will conclude with a charity golf tournament and gala dinner scheduled for Spring 2018.

The community can look forward to Mono Indian Storytelling updates in the future, and a Soaproot Workshop scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 2 and 3, from 9 a.m.- 3 p.m. In this 2-day workshop local basket weaver Sandy Clark will teach participants how to make a soaproot brush.

“You will get down and dirty digging your own root, cleaning the hair from the root, and combining the fibers to create your own brush.”

Everyone is welcome and there will be a limit of 16 attendees, so please call to reserve a seat: (559) 877-2115 or email Mono Museum.

The Sierra Mono Indian Museum has been a private, non profit 501(c)3 institution governed by a Board of Directors since May 9, 1966.

For more information on the campaign, contact:

Visit the Sierra Mono Museum website to donate or become a member at www.SierraMonoMuseum.org

You can also visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/sierramonomuseum

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