Article Last Updated: Friday, December 12, 2003 - 6:21:45 AM PST
New Indian exhibit at Clarke Museum funded by Simpson grant
By Jennifer Morey The Times-Standard
EUREKA -- A new exhibit on traditional Native American home life recently opened at the Clarke Historical Museum in Old Town. Made possible by a grant from the Simpson Fund, the charitable arm of the Simpson companies, the exhibit features a full-size diorama and a scale model of a traditional Yurok house.
The diorama uses traditionally dressed mannequins in front of an 1890s photo mural of a Yurok village. The figures are shown going about their daily tasks. A woman is grinding acorns while a man is shown preparing to go fishing with net and spear and a child plays with a toy canoe. Display cases around the scene contain items relating to everyday life in the village.
Two members of the tribe, Ernie Albers and Marlon Sherman, worked with local craftsman Michael Meuser to construct the house. (note that the Times-Standard got this wrong. Marlon has been married to Dale Ann Frye Sherman for over 30 years. Dale Ann is a member of the Yurok tribe, Marlon is Lakota). It is built to one-sixth scale and is modeled on the Yurok houses in the Sumeg village at Patrick's Point State Park in Trinidad. The house is constructed in the traditional way with old-growth redwood planks lashed together with grapevines. One side is removed to show the interior.
"The Yurok were making this type of home before Euro-Americans reached this continent," said Dale Ann Sherman, curator of the Native American collection in Nealis Hall at the museum. "The architectural style is directly related to the weather on the North Coast. When the homes are sitting on the land, it's really beautiful the way they fit into the landscape."
Neal Ewald, general manager of Simpson Resource Co., said the museum is an institution on the North Coast and deserves to be supported.
"We're supportive of the Native American communities, particularly those adjacent to our property," he said. "The Yurok, Hoopa and Weott tribes are our neighbors. It just makes sense to support them however we can."
He also said the company had an agreement with the Weott tribe to gather materials on the company's property in Table Bluff, to be used to teach younger members of the tribe about the tribe's history and way of life.
"They treated us to a Native American traditional lunch," he said. "It was great."
Museum director Pam Service said the museum was "very grateful to Simpson for funding this exhibit."
The exhibit is intended to be a long-term part of the museum's Nealis Hall displays. The museum is located at 240 E St. and the hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is free. For more information, call 443-1947.