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Effort to rebuild longhouse gets traction at conference


Albert Andrews addresses the 43-tribe ATNI gathering this month at Warm Springs. - Meghan Francis photo

The Chief Joseph Nez Perce Longhouse, destroyed by fire three years ago, may soon be replaced by a new building if a committee working for it can settle with insurance and find more funding.

The new replacement building is projected to cost $3 million, a press release from the Colville Tribes said, but a settlement with an insurer still has to be worked out. And the effort must break ground by July 1 this year or face the loss of the insurance funds.

At the time of the fire, Dec. 26, 2012, it had been reported that the building was insured for $350,000.

The Nez Perce Longhouse Rebuilding Committee met with the Affiliated Tribes of the Northwest Indians (ATNI) earlier this month to promote fund-raising and to ask for support in the construction of the building.

"They were quite receptive to our request," said Glo Simpson, secretary of the committee, noting personal donations after committee President Albert Andrews spoke at the gathering came to $1,460. "They gave us an excellent boost."

The committee stated that the new facility would be similar to one built at the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, where ATNI's winter convention was held Feb. 1 – 4, when representatives of some 43 tribes from across the region gathered.

After Andrews spoke about the effort for an hour to a packed House of Awakened Culture during the event's Culture Night, a motion was made to ask the Washington Indian Gaming Association (WIGA) to allow tribes with casino revenue to assist other tribes without "all the red tape" currently required, so the process would become similar to how gaming tribes can donate to non-profit foundations.

Simpson said Tuesday the committee is working on that new language for WIGA.

On the insurance effort, Simpson said that a consultant has been found to help them place a value on the many artifacts that were destroyed in the blaze the day after Christmas. She said the group must break ground by July 1 or lose the insurance funding.

The cause of the fire was stated at the time as an electrical malfunction. Firefighters had reached the scene at about 12:30 in the morning and found the longhouse engulfed in flames.

The longhouse committee members who made the presentation at ATNI were Andrews, Rodney Cawston, Veronica Redstar, Simpson, Gloria Atkins and Collene Cawston.

The Nez Perce Longhouse just south of Nespelem was constructed in 1975, and was a part of a bicentennial project.

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