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Local Museum receives federal humanities grant

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News from Ninepipes Museum of Early Montana

CHARLO  – The Ninepipes Museum of Early Montana was recently awarded a “Preservation Assistance for Small Institutions” grant in the amount of $5,775 from the National Endowment for the Humanities. This grant will span an 18-month period and allow the museum to contract with Pat Roath of Specialty Museum Services out of Kalispell to conduct a general preservation assessment of the institution’s 2,000 plus objects.  

“We have artifacts of local and national significance and we want to ensure we have the highest standards of care so that future generations can continue to enjoy these treasures,” said Amy Webster, project director and collections manager at Ninepipes Museum. 

The assessment will address short and long-term needs of objects in the museum’s care and will include a five-year conservation preventive plan. The grant will also fund some storage and monitoring materials and culminate with a training and open house to share findings with board and staff, local museums and tribal members.  

Todd Buffalo, an intern at the museum and SKC Tribal Historic Preservation student said: “This is a rare opportunity for me. It’s huge because preservation is my passion and this will be a great learning experience for my future career.”

Ninepipes Museum of Early Montana is located on the Flathead Indian Reservation just 10 minutes south of Ronan and only 45 minutes north of Missoula on U.S. Highway 93. It was founded in 1997 by Laurel and Bud Cheff, Jr. who had a strong desire to preserve the culture and history of early Montana and the Salish, Flathead and Pend d’Oreille tribes. The museum cares for native objects from across the nation. Bud was born and raised in the valley and shares the historic objects he collected over a lifetime.  Many other residents have donated items over the last 20 years to make the museum a national treasure.  

Jo Cheff, executive director of the Ninepipes Museum said: “We’re very excited. This is one important step needed to ensure good stewardship of our collections as we work toward our goal of becoming a nationally accredited museum.”

The National Endowment for the Humanities is an independent federal agency created in 1965 and is one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the United States. Grants typically go to cultural institutions such as museums, archives, libraries, colleges, universities, public television and radio stations, as well as to individual scholars. The endowment awards grants to top-rated proposals examined by a panel of independent, external reviewers and is highly competitive. Applicants undergo four levels of review before a grant is officially supported.  

“Less than a quarter of the applicants are funded, especially first-time applicants such as ourselves.  So we feel extremely fortunate and grateful,” said Kathy Senkler, associate director at the Ninepipes Museum.  

The museum and gift shop are open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please call 406-644-3435 or email for questions or to schedule a tour. For more information, go to

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