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Ninepipes Museum holds Heritage Keeper benefit

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CHARLO — The Ninepipes Museum of Early Montana held its second annual Heritage Keeper Benefit on Sunday; this year focusing in on the tribe and our valley.  

First held in 2022 in honor of museum founder Bud Cheff Jr. after receiving the 2021 Heritage Keeper Award from the Montana Historical Society – an award honoring those who have had a significant impact on generating interest in preserving Montana’s history and heritage –  Executive Director Jo Cheff shared that the event had been so popular that they’d decided to hold it again. 

“What’s nice about this year’s presentation is we’ve got kind of a nice program with the Flathead Reservation or the Salish and Kootenai Tribes presentation,” Cheff commented. “This year we really wanted to focus on the tribal aspect and the valley, so that’s why we went this direction with it.” 

This year’s event included entertainment from a variety of local talent, including Pat Matt with a traditional drum and song and Ryder Parot on the flute. Aspen and Cameron Decker with Xwlxwilt, which translates to Alive and Well, gave a Salish Cultural Art Presentation, and JR Parot performed Hoop Dance. A live auction was held with many items donated from local community members and organizations, all to a soundtrack of live music performed by Del and Cheryl DesJarlais and Richard Tobel. 

Their main fundraising event of the year, Cheff shared they hope to gain enough funds to upgrade their audio tour system, as well as perform further work on an education program. The education program, already in progress, will include winter storytelling in the museum for schoolkids. 

“We’re so grateful for the support of the community,” Cheff said. “It’s been really phenomenal and keeps us going. There’s so much good feedback and so many people seem to enjoy (the museum) and support it, and we’re really happy to see an increase with the school, not just in the valley but up the Flathead and down through the Bitterroot, getting more and more people and schools involved. We’re pretty excited.” 

Those interested in contributing items to the museum can learn more by calling 406-644-3435 and asking for Collections Curator Amy Webster. Anyone interested in contributing monetarily to help the museum keep local history alive can do so by visiting:

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