Written by The Herald-News
National Park Service director Jonathan B. Jarvis recently announced more than $645,000 in historic preservation grants to 17 American Indian tribes, Alaskan Natives and Native Hawaiian organizations. In all, 42 proposals were received requesting approximately $1.55 million. Since 1990, over $21.8 million has been awarded to approximately 593 projects in Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian communities.
“These grants will be used to help preserve the rich heritage of human experience from architectural and intellectual achievements to cultural identities,” said Jarvis. “Whether used to create oral history programs, operate museums and cultural centers, or develop training and education programs, the grants will help all Americans gain a greater appreciation of our nation’s rich traditions and cultures.”
The competitive grants can be used to fund projects such as nominations to the National Register of Historic Places, preservation education, architectural planning, historic structure reports, community preservation plans and bricks-and-mortar repair to buildings.
Tribal Heritage Grant funds will be used at Fort Peck to continue the renovation of the historical 1915 Fort Peck Indian Boarding School dining hall and kitchen in Poplar. It is one of the few remaining structures of the Fort Peck Agency Indian Boarding School and Town of Poplar from the late 19th century.
Since the school’s closure in the 1930s, the building has served as the Fort Peck Agency administration building and the first tribal substance abuse treatment center. The building has been designated for rehabilitation as a cultural/historical resource and for use as a tourism office and museum space while retaining its historical architectural integrity.
“The history of this building is the history of the Fort Peck Reservation” says project coordinator Shawn Olson. “Funding of this project will move the Fort Peck Tribes one step closer to preserving a building that represents an important piece of the history of the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes on the Fort Peck Reservation and northeastern Montana.”
Fort Peck Tribes received $40,000 to hire a historic building preservation specialist to do conduct a Historic Building Report to assess the building condition; hire an architect to develop a master plan for restoration of the building based on the specialist’s assessment; and develop a master budget for the restoration work. The building underwent asbestos and mold removal in September 2012 with grant funds from the Environmental Protection Agency.
The long-range plan is for the building to be a part of the Fort Peck Tribes museum complex, house the museum and tourism staff, and be the Reservation Visitor Center for tourists. The building itself will serve as part of the museum collection used to teach new generations and the general public about the agency boarding school and its role in the lives of several generations and impact on the people of the Fort Peck Reservation. The walls in the main hall will be used to exhibit photographs and text about the history of the building from its original purpose, its years as the BIA Agency headquarters, the time used for alcohol treatment, the preservation and renovation process and the “finished” product. Architectural and “green” features incorporated into the building will be highlighted with signage. Transforming the building into a visitors’ center and museum exhibit space the building will continue its original purpose of educating the public, both local and visitors.