The North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians has been awarded a $605,000 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Indian Community Development Block Grant (ICDBG) Program grant to undertake expansion and renovation of the Sierra Mono Museum located in North Fork.
The grant is part of a program that supports a wide range of community development and affordable-housing activities, from new housing for individual families to community amenities like recreation centers or water lines.
The North Fork Rancheria is among a small number of federally recognized tribes to receive a HUD grant in this round of funding.
“These grants will support Native American communities as they work to improve housing conditions and neighborhoods,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “HUD will continue to be a steadfast partner to tribes as they design and execute their community development plans.”
“The North Fork Rancheria is acting like all good governments,” said Tribal Chairman Gary Walker. “Our first priority is to protect people, property and culture, and this summer we’ve worked all sides of the equation, from protecting our community against wildfires to preserving our cultural artifacts in partnership with the Sierra Mono Museum.”
According to Paul Irwin, North Fork Rancheria Indian Housing Authority’s director, who prepared the grant application, the grant will greatly enhance the Museum’s ability to preserve its extensive catalog of Mono items and artifacts. Most of the Museum revenues are currently derived from private donations, museum entrance and membership fees, and proceeds from its annual event, the Indian Fair and Pow Wow Day, said Irwin.
“This grant will provide funding specifically to address the assessed facility needs for the long term preservation of irreplaceable cultural artifacts.
“Additional upgrades will focus on accessibility, and overall the expansion and renovation will enhance the museums ability to preserve and share the Mono Indian culture with the public.
“This grant application was the culmination of years of planning, needs assessments, feasibility studies, and collection assessments by the museum board and partners,” said Irwin.
“This is yet another example of the North Fork Tribe conducting vital economic and cultural work in Eastern Madera,” said District 5 County Supervisor Tom Wheeler. “They continue to be great partners investing in a fire house, community center, TANF building, transportation center, housing office, and now upgrades to the tribal office building and cultural museum in our community – and all without the benefit casino revenues.”
At the 47th Annual Indian Fair Days and PowWow held this past August, the Museum and North Fork Rancheria officially kicked off a year-long “Half-Century” Capital Campaign celebrating 50 years of cultural stewardship with an official target goal of raising $250,000 to augment the ICDBG funds. “Over the course of the next year, our fundraising campaign will seek to raise awareness, support, and short-term operating funds for the state’s first wholly-owned and -run Native historical museum,” said Kelly Marshall, Chairwoman of the Sierra Museum Board of Directors. The campaign will involve a series of community information sessions, public education materials, special events, school outreach programs, and membership drives.