Reach museum in Richland receives traditional tribal blessing

Tri-City HeraldJuly 5, 2014 

The newly opened Reach museum received a traditional tribal blessing Saturday evening.

Armand Minthorn, a board member with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, rang a small bell and chanted. He praised the facility for telling the story of the Hanford Reach from the time tribes used it to protect themselves from the Missoula floods 13,000 years ago.

"This is where we all come together with one heart and one mind so we can have an influence," he said. "So we know our past and we can know where we are going. This building will help with that."

The Reach opened to the public Friday after a week of events. About 150 people paid $125 to attend Saturday's dedication ceremony, featuring live music and hors d'oeuvres served by people wearing black T-shirts with the names of the food they were offering.

Speakers praised the assistance of the Richland Public Facilities District, as well as donors and federal agencies like the Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife.

The event was capped by the announcement of two new educational programs to be housed out of the Reach. Washington River Protection Solutions, the Hanford tank farm contractor, is donating $50,000 for an environmental and natural resources education center, while Sunheaven Farms in Prosser is giving the same amount for an agriculture sustainability program. The institutes will work closely with Columbia Basin College, Washington State University Tri-Cities and local school districts to increase student interest, said Reach CEO Lisa Toomey.

"They'll be teaching children about stewardship and protecting natural resources," she said. "They will do field work with kids to get them out to the farms, to get them out to public lands and have those direct, hands-on experiences."

Students involved in the education programs will be able to work at the Reach, which tells the story of the area from prehistoric times to the Manhattan Project and beyond, said program and education coordinator Stephanie Button.

"We do everything from pre-K all the way up to college level," she said. "We're really just at the beginning of making our education programs bigger and fun."

The Reach's regular hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and from noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. It is closed Mondays. Admission is $8 for adults and $6 for students and seniors. Children younger than 5 get in free.

-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; gfolsom@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom

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