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A Sacred Meteor To Be Celebrated, Blessed, Through New Art Installation

Garrick Imatani

Friday morning, a Native American blessing ceremony will be held at the University of Oregon’s Straub Hall.  As KLCC’s Brian Bull reports, it’s for art commissioned to commemorate an out-of-this world object.

Westerners call it the Willamette Meteor.  But the Clackamas people call it Tomanowos. The original meteor was carried to the region by glacial activity 15,000 years ago. Native people deemed it sacred, but were driven off by colonization. In 1902 it was discovered by developers, and ended up in the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Credit LewisClark.edu
Garrick Imatani, Assistant Professor of Creative Arts at Southern Oregon University.

Artist Garrick Imatani says he’s done a wall painting, a series of photos, and a cast aluminum sculpture of the meteor based on 3-D scans.  He wants people to know of its relevance to Oregon tribes.

“This object has a whole another history to it, has a whole ‘nother story," Imatani tells KLCC. "Here is this extraterrestrial object, it’s not even of this planet, and yet it still becomes a container for the fraught politics of the American West.”

Credit granderonde.org
Members of the Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde hold a private ceremony with the Tomanowos meteor, at the American Museum of Natural History in 2014.

The Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde hold annual ceremonies with Tomanowos, as part of a deal worked out with the museum.

Copyright 2018, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.