RICHLAND, Wash. – EM’s Richland Operations Office (RL) has transferred nearly 200 boxes of artifacts and records of importance to tribes in the northwest U.S. to the Wanapum Heritage Center for long-term curation.
“I’m proud of the work that has gone into taking care of these important pieces of Hanford’s history,” EM Assistant Secretary Anne White said while on a recent visit to the center near Priest Rapids Dam west of the Hanford Site. “We’re very lucky to have a facility where they’ll be taken care of with the respect and honor they deserve.”
Large tracts of the 580-square-mile Hanford Site retain significant historical and cultural significance for the indigenous tribes that called it home for hundreds of years — including the Wanapum Band, Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, and Nez Perce Tribe. These areas have been undisturbed for more than 75 years, spanning the eras of plutonium production and EM’s cleanup.
"The archaeological sites and the historic sites are very well preserved,” said Warren Hurley, RL’s cultural resources program manager.
Built in 2015, the center met significant criteria for such archaeological collections: the tribes want the collection to stay local, and it’s held within a state-of-the-art collection management facility, Hurley said.
The collection is property of the U.S. government and was previously housed at Washington State University Tri-Cities after it was curated by DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Mid-Columbia Archaeological Society.